iPhone Life magazine

Music

Everything you'll ever need to know about listening to radio on the iPhone - Part I

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The iPhone is an ideal platform for listening to online radio stations. In this article, I explain everything you’ll ever need to know about all this. You’ll learn how radio stations can be listened to on even non-jailbroken iPhones, without any hacks to play stations in the background; I also present a very thorough comparison of currently available third-party radio software.

First and foremost, let’s take a closer look at the built-in, out-of-the-box radio support.

1. Built-in capabilities: QuickTime

All versions of the iPhone (and, of course, the iPod Touch – from now on, I refer to all these as “iPhone”), under OS3, already have support for playing back some (not all!) possible radio stream types.



Concert Vault: free app for listening to whole concerts

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Out of the over 50,000 apps in the App Store, MacWorld magazine picked Concert Vault as the best app of 2009. This free app lets you enter in your favorite band or artist, and then you can listen via streaming audio to an actual concert that was recorded sometime in the past — U2, early Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin. The collection spans the 1960s through today. Obviously not every band or artist will be represented, and the current ones less so. But hopefully you'll find something you'll like from among the thousands of concerts.



Bebot - Robot Synth

You may be familiar with the name Jordan Rudess, a well known master keyboard player and electronic musician. He’s been posting some great video demonstrations on YouTube including a relatively new iPhone/iPod Touch app call Bebot-Robot Synth ($1.99) that is an incredibly expressive synthesizer and performance controller. It’s difficult to describe in words so check it out at www.youtube.com/watch.



iPhone/iPod Touch Plays MIDI

Welcome to my new blog here at iPhoneLife.com. It’s about all things iPhone and Music. After writing an article for this past spring’s print edition of the magazine, I realized that things are moving so quickly in iPhone app development that dealing with the long lead time print requires would mean missing out on cool new entries. So time to start blogging!



Slacker streaming radio — Slacker Pro giveaway

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Slacker is a service that, like Pandora, lets you identify the type of music you like and then creates a personalized station that streams this music. And Slacker, like Pandora, makes it super easy for you to create your station, beginning simply by naming your favorite song or artist. These two websites are hugely popular, and both offer a free iPhone app that lets you access your stations or create new ones.



Last FM: Version 2.0.0

LastFM Radio AppLast FM works very similar to Pandora Radio by allowing you to create a custom radio station based on the music style of your favorite band. When you start the app you are given the option of creating your own custom library or going with Last FM’s recommendations. To create a custom library you have to sign up for a free account on their Web site.

Pandora Radio: Version 2.0

PandoraProbably the most popular free radio application on the App Store, Pandora allows you to create personalized radio stations based on your favorite musical group or genre.

AOL Radio: Version 1.2.1.16

AOL RadioAOL Radio was one of the original Internet radio apps offered at the launch of the App Store. AOL Radio leverages the iPhone’s “Core Location” framework to detect a user’s location and automatically display broadcast radio stations nearest to the user. AOL Radio LocalesIt’s the only Internet radio app that does this, but I find this feature annoying because every time I launch the app, it shows me the same two country stations, both of which are not really near to where I live and commute. Still, the app is easy to use, offers every music type as well as live talk radio and news and always resumed on the station where I left it. AOL Radio’s interface is similar to the iPod menu structure, making it easy for new users to find radio stations, add them to your favorites menu, check the recent station list to see where you last left off, and more. You can use AOL Radio without creating an online account. Audio quality was good and buffering times were very fast. The program pauses when you receive a phone call and launches again when the call ends. When the call ends, you must navigate to the station to start the music again.


AOL Radio’s user interface (left) is similar to the iPod UI. The app uses the iPhone’s ability to
detect the user’s location to display a list of nearby broadcast radio stations (right).

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