For the Squeeze Commander app to work you will need a Wi-Fi router, a PC or NAS drive running the free Squeezebox server software, and of course an Android smartphone or Android tablet. Then install the Squeezebox sever software, and set it up to work with your Squeezebox audio device.
When we launched the Squeeze Commander app it automatically found the Squeezebox server running on our PC.
Squeeze Commander took a while to display the album artwork from the more than 300 albums in our music folder. The nice thing is that Squeeze Commander updates the album artwork and newly added music in the background. So it got on with its business, and let us browse our music collection, playing songs right away. We were not asked to log into the squeezebox.com account, either: a pleasant surprise.
The Squeeze Commander's interface is nothing special. In fact it's a very simple design that, although it works fine on our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, is designed more for a smaller screen of a smartphone. It would be nice to see a specific tablet version of the app which could take advantage of the screen real estate, and perhaps have a grid view option for browsing album artwork. At least the app does support both portrait and landscape orientations.
Navigating though menus using the Squeeze Commander app is pretty easy, and there are many ways to find exactly what you are looking for. You will find all the same options to browse as you do with the Squeezebox server web interface: by Artist, Album, Genre, Playlist, Random mix and so on. You can also log onto squeezebox.com if you wish to listen to internet radio stations, and other music services such as Last.fm and Spotify. There is also a great search option which brings up the keyboard and starts to display results as you start typing, so there is no need to type in the whole name.
Of course the best way to search though a large music library is to flick through album artwork. This is great on a touchscreen device such as our tablet, as you can scroll slowly or very quickly by how fast you move your fingers, and flicking through the album covers feels very intuitive. This, almost, brings back that physical experience of shuffling though our vinyl and compact disc collection. However we can now do it without leaving the comfort of our favourite chair.
The Squeeze Commander icon is displayed in the Android notification bar when the app is running. At any time you can click on the icon to quickly go back into the app again. This was very handy for when we were using the device and needed to change a track, album or add a few more songs to our playlist. A set of back/play/forward buttons in the notification bar would have also been a great feature, for controlling your music without having to jump back in to the app each time.
While navigating through our extensive music library we were able to quickly get to the track that was currently playing by either clicking on the "note" icon at the top right of the screen or by clicking the menu button in the Android notification bar and selecting the same "now playing icon". Navigating back to the main menu from the app was also just as easy by clicking the home button. Alternatively you can swipe the screen to go back through to the main menu.
Squeeze Commander allows you to download a track or full album on to your portable device if you wish. This is a nice feature for those that want to take their music on the go. The music will not appear in your favourite Android music player automatically, however. We had to use a file manager to find the album folder, then pick the track and select which player to open the file with. We found this little to get excited about, as there are many ways to get music on to our tablet.
When you select the track or album, it starts to play and the album cover art (if your music files have it embedded) is displayed in full screen on your device. We found this a nice touch, however you will need to have cover artwork saved at a decent resolution. As was to be expected on our tablet's 1280x800 screen, low-res covers simply looked pixelated.
Once in the full album cover mode, it was not apparent how to change tracks or pause the music. A tiny arrow tab on the lower right of the screen toggles between the control bar being visible and hidden. It took us a while to figure this out, as by default the control bar is in the hidden position.
We tested the Squeeze Commander app by controlling the Squeezebox server on our iMac as well as a NAS drive connected to the same network. The only difference we found was that Squeeze Commander was a little slower to load the music from the iMac. And it took, what seemed like forever, to get the album art to load.
If you own Logitech squeezebox products and an Android tablet or smartphone, the Squeeze Commander app will defiantly give you a far more enjoyable experience when browsing your music library on a touchscreen. It has all the same settings as the Squeezebox server browser interface, with the added ability to download the music onto the device for mobile listening. At only £2.99 it is definitely a worthwhile improvement over the plastic remote that comes with most Logitech Squeezebox products. There are a few alternative apps out there that do almost the same thing, and are free.