In the age of MP3s, Pandora, and Grooveshark, it’s easy to forget that the airwaves are still being endlessly pumped with great programming via old school AM/FM radio stations. The last device you would expect to cause you to listen to more radio is an iPhone, but the app below will do just that!
Today we’re going to take a look at TuneIn Radio, an app that is sure to help you reclaim your long lost love for good old fashioned radio.
What Is TuneIn Radio?
TuneIn Radio is exactly what it sounds like: an app that let’s you listen to the radio. Big deal right? Wrong. I was fully prepared to be utterly unimpressed with TuneIn, but what I found blew me away.
Let’s look at all the things that make this app so great.
Finding Local Stations
The first thing you should see when you open the app is the browse screen. Here you can search for something specific or simply browse by one of the predefined categories.
One of the features you’ll find yourself using the most is the “Local Radio” option. Tapping this link will take you to a page listing all the radio stations available in your area. As this point I was shocked by how many stations I could choose from. I’ve tried competing apps and the list of stations here was far more thorough. Almost every station that I have preset on my car stereo was available right here (only a few of AM stations were missing).
Notice that when you’re viewing a list of stations, whatever is currently playing on that station is listed in gray under the station title. This single feature really boosts the entire radio experience as it is much easier to quickly see what’s on all your favorite stations at once rather than navigating to them one at a time to check manually.
Finding Far Away Stations
I live in Phoenix but grew up in St. Louis and quite often wish I could listen to some of the stations I knew back home as a teenager. TuneIn makes this process super easy. Just tap “Browse by Location” and select your country and the area you’d like to narrow the selection to (in my case Missouri and St. Louis).
Alternatively, you can run a search for any location right from the browse screen.
As you can see, running a search for a city will give you the option to browse the stations in that city or select a major sports team and find corresponding sports talk stations. As a sports fan, it’s really nice to be able to quickly check in on the Rams or Cardinals.
Listening and Recording
When you select a station to listen to, you’ll be taken to the “Now Playing” screen. Here you can see what’s on, complete with album artwork and a link to that artist’s Last.FM station. You can also pause and rewind live radio.
One of the features that really makes this app awesome is the ability to record live radio. Simply hit the “Record” button on the bottom left near the volume slider and a new recording will begin. Your recordings will all be saved to the “Recordings” tab where you can browse, listen to or delete them.
Tapping the button on the top right will add the currently playing station to your bookmarks. These are listed under the bookmarks tab back in the main interface.
Tapping the options button on the “Now Playing” screen will take you to the screen below on the left. My two favorite features here are “View Schedule” and “Set Alarm/Timer.”
Under “View Schedule,” you can view the entire daily lineup of programs and segments (not specific songs) such as “The Morning Drive” or “Commercial Free Hour.” This works well in conjunction with the record timer when you have specific segments that you want to be sure you don’t miss.
For instance, if an important politician is being interviewed on a specific show, you can check the schedule to see when that show is and set TuneIn to record the hour that the person is on.
Another great feature here is “You May Also Like.” This will help you find new stations that are similar to the one you are currently listening to.
Searching for an Artist
Yet another really cool feature available for finding what you want to listen to is the ability to search stations according to the currently playing artist and/or song.
For example, in the images above I ran a search for “Queen” and was able to see all the stations that were currently playing either a song with “Queen” in the title or from the actual band Queen.
Account and Web
The final two tabs are “Account” and “Web.” Under “Account” you can sign into your RadioTime account (the web app equivalent to TuneIn). This will allow you to access any presets from your RadioTime right in TuneIn.
One of the more confusing features is the inclusion of a browser under the “Web” tab. I suppose it was a sort of multi-tasking hack so you could browse the web and listen to music at the same time before iOS 4 came along.
Before finding this app I was a pretty avid iheart radio user (a good free alternative if you’re looking). TuneIn instantly won me over though with its much larger station selection and scheduling/recording features. It is definitely a superior app and well worth the $1.99 if you have any interest in live radio.
My only real complaint was that the interface can take a while to navigate as you get deeper into the menus and want to back out. For instance, when you’re listening to one of your bookmark stations and want to change, you have to exit the “Now Playing” screen and make your way to the bookmark tab to change to another station. As a seasoned commercial dodger, I think it would be great to be able to switch between bookmarked stations with a single tap from the “Now Playing” screen.
Leave a comment below and let us know what radio apps you’ve tried and how they compare to TuneIn Radio. I’d also be interested to see how many of our readers even listen to the radio anymore so be sure to leave your opinion on the subject.
TuneIn Radio allows you to listen to and record over 40,000 radio stations. You can browse by location or language, bookmark your favorite stations and search for stations based on the currently playing song or artist. The huge station selection and recording features definitely put this app a step above the rest.9