If you already own a smartphone or tablet, you can enjoy karaoke at home without investing in a full-size machine. There are numerous apps available that can pull up karaoke tracks and lyrics right on your mobile device. Of course, these apps don't give you the speakers and microphone needed to belt out "I Will Survive" to a crowded room, but they make up for it by making it easier to record a performance and share it with others online. Some of them even turn karaoke into a game, letting you earn points for hitting the right notes.
The karaoke app that gets the most consistently positive feedback from professionals and users is StarMaker: Karaoke + AutoTune (Free). With this app you can add vocal effects, such as AutoTune, to give your singing voice star quality. You can also record your performances to post on Facebook or share with the StarMaker community online, where you can compete to win the most votes. Both MacLife magazine and the GeekSugar blog include StarMaker: Karaoke + AutoTune on their lists of the best karaoke apps for iOS, and it gets a 4.5-star overall rating from about 40 users at the iTunes store.
However, the thousands of reviews we found on Google Play are less uniformly positive. Though most reviewers like the app, there are many complaints that the Android version is buggy and doesn't record smoothly. Another problem is that the app comes with only 70 credits to buy new songs, which isn't enough for most of the songs in the catalogue. To gain access to the hundreds of available songs, you can either sign up for a subscription ($2 per week, $5 per month or $25 for six months) or earn credits by watching videos and completing achievements in the game.
Another free app that's very popular with both critics and users is Sing! Karaoke (Free). What sets this app apart is its focus on the social aspect of sharing music with other users. Reviewer Dale Culp at 148Apps.com describes this app as a "global karaoke party," in which you can join a duet or sing along with a group anywhere in the world. The app also has a game element, scoring your singing according to how well you hit each note. Sing! Karaoke offers only a small list of free songs; to access others you need to add credits, either by paying for a subscription (Est. $3 per week, $8 per month or $40 per year) or by signing up for mailing lists and other online services. This is the most popular karaoke app we've seen for iOS, earning 4.5 stars from 764 users at the iTunes store. However, as with StarMaker: Karaoke + AutoTune, the Android version gets more complaints from users, who describe problems loading new songs.
One problem with both StarMaker: Karaoke + AutoTune and Sing! Karaoke is that these free apps offer little free music. One solution is Karaoke Anywhere (Est. $2). Though you must pay to download the app, it comes with 50 free songs -- though Kit Eaton of The New York Times describes the arrangements as "cheap and electronic." (You can also pay $10 a month to access a catalogue of 10,000 songs, or pay to download individual songs from a list of over 40,000.) The app lets you record, mix and share performances, as well as output songs to your TV with a standard AV cable for the full karaoke-party experience. However, reviewers say the menus are somewhat confusing, and some Android users complain that they had trouble downloading the app.