A look at Rhapsody Channel playback on Android. (Credit: Rhapsody)

Late last week, Rhapsody finally pushed out a beta of its new app for Android devices. The service was aiming to launch the new feature before the holidays, but finalizing the software for public consumption took a bit longer than expected.

The Android version is noticeably different than the one for the iPhone--for a few reasons. Most notably, due to the parameters of each OS, the Android app will run in the background while you use other functions of your device (the iPhone does not allow such activity at this time). Also, Rhapsody for Android has a noticeably darker look and feel, which distinguishes it a bit more from both the desktop client and the version for the iPhone.

You can expect all the usual suspects in terms of Rhapsody features. From there, the top menu lets you search for specific tracks, albums, and artists; browse by genres or what's new for the week; and access charts, playlists, or Rhapsody Radio (known to seasoned users as Rhapsody Channels).

There's also a section dedicated to your personal library, with sub-menus for artists, albums, playlists, stations, and purchases.

The interface is slick, with plenty of album art and artist pics acting as visually stimulating icons for a more immersive navigation experience. It's fairly snappy, though playback takes a bit to load. After seeing Slacker's nifty home screen widget for its Android app, I can't help but be a bit disappointed by Rhapsody's lack of method for controlling playback while perusing other functions. Still, at least there's an Android app period--and it's free, as it should be.

If you're interested in checking out the public beta of Rhapsody's Android app, follow the instructions here.