Listening to the radio on your smartphone is like a technological marriage between the past and the present.
I still tend to think of radios as those wooden analogue boxes where you have to jog the dial to find the right frequency, pray for a decent reception and then, somehow, miraculously, you stumble upon the station you were looking for.
The sound quality was rubbish and there was always the danger of losing the signal if you moved to another part of the room, but it all seemed part of the experience.
Those were the days when the radio was also called a wireless. Now, being wireless extends to most of our communication and entertainment devices, and the humble radio has also been swept along in the winds of change.
Radio on your Lumia
The advantages of listening to the radio now are legion. It sounds better, it’s easier to use, you can listen to stations from all over the world and best of all, of course, you can also do it on your Nokia Lumia smartphone whenever and wherever you happen to be.
The big daddy of the radio streaming apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace is TuneIn, a California-based company that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
It has 40 million users from over 230 countries listening every month to one of its of 60,000 stations or 2 million on demand programmes.
It’s easy to see why TuneIn is so popular. It’s simple to use and to navigate through; you can search by location, language or genre and save your favourites in the presets. You can even pin stations to your start screen.
When you are listening to a station, I particularly like the multiple screens that you can swipe through, where information such as schedule, Twitter feeds and related stations are displayed. Alternatively, you can just listen with the app running in the background while you do other things with your Lumia.
TuneIn can be downloaded from the Nokia Collection in the Marketplace.
As well as TuneIn, there are dozens of other radio streaming apps in the Marketplace. Some of them, such as Kerrang! Radio player, are dedicated radio station apps and many specialise in a language, country or region.
Choice is always a good thing, so here are five free apps that you may want to try out.
The miRoamer app is well worth a try, particularly if you just want to listen to music.
The Platinum channels have different genres of music, such as Absolute 80s, Modern Rock, Metal, Chill Out and Soft Jazz. Select your favourite and listen to MiRoamer’s own music playlists. Don’t like a track? Then, just skip it.
It’s not as varied or as wonderfully diverse as Nokia’s own Mix Radio, but then we are biased. All the same, it’s not a bad feature to have on top of a radio-streaming app. Of course, you can also browse through local, national and global radio stations.
Radio Hub has a nice graphic equaliser when you are listening to a radio station – for this feature alone, I think it’s great.
Another nice touch is that where the song and artist information is available it will appear on your screen. Visually, it is an extremely appealing app.
Other functions are not as comprehensive as the other apps though. You can search by country, but not by genre. You can save favourite stations but you can’t pin them to your start screen.
However, the biggest drawback is that it doesn’t support multi-tasking. You can listen under the lock screen, but not if you wanted to play a game or write an email. To compensate, a browser, Twitter and Facebook are built into the app.
This is another radio app for people who only want to listen to music.
You start by choosing by genre, mood or artist – choosing the latter means the app will also play related and similar acts.
The standout feature of AUPEO is the ability to create your own personalised radio station. You can press the ‘Love’ and ‘Ban’ buttons for each song so that your personal preferences are gradually built up. You can then also share your Radio station with friends via Facebook.
The free registration is required to create your personal radio station and the premium version (you get 7 days free as a premium listener when you register) of the app removes advertisements and gives you unlimited skipping of songs, otherwise there’s a maximum six skips per hour.
Webradio is very much intended for Dutch and Belgian radio fans but is worth a mention for a neat feature where you can add your own stations or shows to the app.
All you need is an image, to make it look nice, and the URL that points at an ASX file. This must be great for DIY DJs and underground stations to get their work out there!
How do you listen to the radio on your Lumia? Let us know in the comments if you have a favourite radio streaming app.
Image credit: Rafael Kage