It’s a bit hard to believe that even today millions of users listen to radio and a lot of them ( 5 million) use TuneIn’s app to do it. For a lot of people radio still holds value, especially local radio, and who wants to use the FM app where you need to connect headphones which act as FM receivers to listen to radio. Not when you can stream it.
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A lot of radio stations are aware of this trend and they offer their own apps on the App Store. But then you need to switch between apps to switch between news stations. Not good.
All those little problems with any other method is why TuneIn is already so successful. It has a collection of more than 100,000 radio stations which you can stream and record for free. A solid app. And now, TuneIn has added social functions to the app and turned the radio experience into that of discovery.
Here’s why you should care about the 6.0 update.
Note: This is a review of TuneIn Radio Pro (TuneIn from here on) which sells for $3.99 on the App Store and Google Play Store. If you are ok with ads and don’t wish to record, check out the free TuneIn Radio app. I used an iPhone to review the app but the experience on Android should be similar. Also, the same streaming experience is available on the web as well.
There are classic radio shows like This American Life, among others that a lot of people listen to. Now you can follow individual shows and get updates for latest episodes. A bit like podcasts. Another feature borrowed from social networks is Echo. Where you can comment (up to 100 characters) on any episode and let the broadcasters know how much you love or hate them.
It also seems like an easy way to communicate if they get something wrong. An empty Echo is considered as a like. A good feature, but the implementation surely could have been better.
Allow TuneIn to access your location and the app will show you available radio stations around you. Stations for bigger cities are easily available, so are online versions of local stations. You can start recording a station by pressing the red record button in the Now Playing view.
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The biggest addition to the app has to the be the Explore function. It’s also what brings the app closer to Spotify more than a social network. The discovery works based on what you listen. Here you’ll find what’s hot in your area, the collection of stations and episodes based on categories like Music, News and Sports.
There’s a featured section of the best shows and you can follow any station or show by tapping the + button.
The Old TuneIn
The old TuneIn, which was just a directory of stations is still there. Tap the Browse button to quickly sort through the top trending stations, the top podcasts, or stationsand shows based on category.
The Homescreen is your gateway to the world of radio. Every station or show you follow, what’s trending and what TuneIn suggests you check out is available here. Frankly, this screen is a bit overly designed.
There’s a lot of wasted space in the name of design. As much as I like looking at great UI, I’d appreciate if I could view more than 3 updates at a time. Without the flair, the app could easily fit 5 updates in there. One good thing about about this screen is you have play, share and Echo options right there.
The New Radio
If this is the future of radio, I am impressed. There are only so many ways to reinvent a hundred year old technology ( can you even call it radio if you are streaming it?), but TuneIn seems to know what it’s doing.
However, one big issue with the app is its dependence on streaming. There’s no option to automatically or manually download new episodes of a program, and it’s not something that just can’t be done. Pocket Casts, which is the best podcasting app, does it quite well and reliably. Even Stitcher Radio which is TuneIn’s chief competition is doing it. It’s not that hard TuneIn, wise up.
What do you think about TuneIn’s interpretation of modern radio? Let us know in the comments below.