Before we get started
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There are hundreds of internet radio stations out there, and plenty of digital radio stations that you’ll probably never get the time to listen to. This is partly because digital radios, even though they’ve been around for a decade now, are still not that common place. It’s also because the production of portable digital radios has been very slow to pick up. The portable digital radios currently on the market are ugly, bulky and notoriously bad at receiving signal.
As people are getting used to only carrying their smartphones with them it seems like madness to carry around an extra device just to listen to a small selection of extra streaming music.
TuneIn Radio is an iPhone app that will allow you to listen to almost any streaming internet radio station directly on your smartphone. You’ll need a data connection in order to use the app, though this can be 3G or Wi-Fi (I’d recommend sticking with Wi-Fi unless you’re sure you can afford the data charges connected with constant 3G usage).
TuneIn Radio is available in two formats: the free version (available from Apple’s official App Store here) has plenty of features but will only stream, not record, audio – whereas the paid for version (available from the App Store for only 69p) will let you stream and record any audio you fancy.
The app’s design is simple and functional, allowing you to flick between your favourites (called presets), and browse the large lists of available stations by category, recently listened to, or by which stations are geographically closest to you by using your iPhone’s built in GPS. Most impressive of all is TuneIn Radio’s ability to scan the music contained on your iPhone and recommended radio stations it thinks will match your tastes.
Once you select a station TuneIn Radio will buffer an amount of the audio and then begin playback. You can edit how long the buffer lasts from anywhere between 1 and 30 seconds, which can be very useful if you’re in an area with patchy connections or on the move. The now playing screen resembles Apple’s own music player and you’ll be familiar with the central display screen as well as most of the buttons allowing you to play, skip forward/back, stop and adjust volume.
The red button on the far left will let you record audio (Pro version only) and allow you to relisten to these recordings at any time. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to share these recordings, or export them to your own music/iTunes. This is probably an anti-piracy measure put in place by Apple.
There are some great extra features included in TuneIn Radio, there’s a car mode which presents the app with a large tactile user-interface very useful for if you run the app whilst driving, there’s also a set of options that will let you set the app to act as an alarm clock so that you can be woken up by your favourite internet radio station.
TuneIn Radio is definitely the best choice around if you want to listen to streaming internet radio on your iPhone, most of the features are available on the free version of the app, but if you need to record clips of audio you can upgrade to the pro version for just 69p.