Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting your album art to show on Android

Traditionally, getting your album art to show on Android has been a complicated task. If your audio tracks weren't initially tagged with embedded album art or a specially named file inside the albums folder before being loaded onto the device, there was no hope of getting the artwork to be displayed. Furthermore, embedded album art on Android is only supported for MP3's, so if your music is in another format like OGG, FLAC, MP4 or AAC, then the file naming scheme for your device was the only option. To make matters worse, the filename required is inconsistent across devices. For instance if you are running stock Android, the file needs to be named AlbumArt.jpg or if your phone is running HTC Sense, it's a cryptic filename like ~hTC_The Name of My Album.jpg.

The only way to make album art show up after initially loading it onto the device was to mount the phone to a computer with USB, copy the files back over with embedded album art or copy the album art image with the correct naming convention to the sd card and store it in the proper location. Then go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > All > Media Storage and press Clear data, then reboot your phone. This also would delete your playlists, video thumbnails, picture metadata, etc., and the reboot would take several minutes as it rebuilds the database. What a pain!

Normally in a case like this, you would turn to the Android Market for solutions. However, until recently the only options on the market were poorly rated expensive apps. Then, Album Art Grabber Free hit the market. This grabber worked for about 75-80% of my collection, but it has a slow interface (it takes 4 clicks to set just one cover); doesn't work with various artist releases, singles or rarities; only searches for album art by artist name; doesn't allow custom artwork to be used; doesn't save album art to sd card so it can be detected by the media scanner after a wipe; doesn't embed artwork into id3 tags; artwork won't show up in 3rd party players that don't read the metadata from Androids internal database; it has a clear album art option but it [works] only on the entire collection, you cant clear a single album, but worse when you click the button, absolutely nothing happens; it is ad supported and it nags at you to donate. There are even reports of the album art not even persisting across a reboot and no way to save album art between data wipes or moving your sd card to another device, so if you frequently flash a new rom or replace your phone you will not have your album art until you download it again.

So this prompted me to write my own, Cover Art Downloader. Version 1.0 was released free on the Android Market on November 1, followed by a quick bug fix release on November 2. I am proud to announce that version 1.2 is now available and is the quickest, easiest and most accurate way to import album artwork on any device running Android 1.6 or higher.

This release features:

* 1-Click download of artwork for any individual album
* Batch download to grab all missing artwork automatically
* Can filter albums list to make albums easier to find on larger collections
* Manual searching for unknown artwork by Artist, Album or any other term
* Can set custom artwork from Gallery (SD Card)
* Option to save album art to sd card in proper location with the proper name for your device so your artwork will still be there if you wipe your phone, get a new phone or flash a new rom
* Allows clearing of artwork from individual albums

Additionally, a donate version ($1.99) is available on the market with these additional features:

* Embed album art to id3 tags
* Automatically scan for and download artwork when new albums are detected on the device

Now, you can quickly download all of your missing album artwork, have it work in 3rd party players and persist across device reboots, factory resets or replacements.

Cover Art Downloader for Android on AppBrain


  1. Very nice, exactly what I was looking for. I'm buying the donation version. How about a Linux port ?

  2. Excellent. Works as expected. After finding this page it had been installed onto phone and got all artwork in less than 2mins.

  3. My music collection, which I regularly sync to my Android phone, follows the Windows Explorer convention: each album folder contains a cover image named Folder.jpg does Cover Art Downloader have an option to search for cover images in the album folders?

  4. I spent ten hours researching how to get cover art into my Android and tried numerous suggestions with almost no success. This thing works!

  5. Oh this is sweet. Spent ages on MAC getting artwork (especially for the elusive Beatles) all sorted out. Thought I'd see if it was possible for my HTC desire hd. Found this and it wad all done in a few minutes...even the Beatles !! Many thanks. Colin R.

  6. At last, someone who knows what they're talking about re Android album art.. (Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > All > Media Storage and press Clear data) I'd made sure I had embedded art in all my MP3s but it was still hit and miss whether or not it displayed. The above worked just fine. All those other people with convoluted "solutions" that took me nowhere. Thanks.