Smartphones offer the best of many worlds, including serving as portable radio stations and juke boxes. Here’s a look at the top radio apps available for a wide range of smartphones.
TuneWiki bills itself as a social networking music app that streams music and video files, allowing you to play the music stored on your smartphone’s memory card. The app lets you stream YouTube video, and connect with other TuneWiki users around the globe.
TuneWiki separates itself from other radio apps in several notable ways. For starters, the lyrics are included with each song and can be synced to the music, even if the song is stored on your phone. This is a great tool, particularly for singers who are learning songs, for spontaneous karaoke fun, or for anyone just interested in the lyrics.
Additionally, users can see the hits that are trending at any given time. See what’s hot so you can stay on top of breaking chart-toppers.
TuneWiki also includes a social map feature, which lets you see what other users are listening to, around the globe or right in your hometown. Hear a tune and want to say something about it? Registered users can jump onto the Shoutwall and post comments, or read what others are saying about a particular song. This is a great way to create a social network based on similar musical tastes and preferences.
The app also includes access to the Shoutcast network of radio stations, giving users access to an impressive array of music genres. TuneWiki is more than just a radio app, and is proving to be one of the most useful and impressive radio apps available for smartphones.
At just 1.70Mb, the Last.fm smartphone app is among the smallest footprints available. It’s also a free app, which makes it very attractive. The app is straightforward and works as easily as their website. Simply enter in your existing user name and password, or create one on the spot.
The app lets you browse your recommendations, favorite artists, and stored radio stations, as well as creating new stations in an instant. You can also add new artists to your profile, increasing the breadth of possible recommendations. With their massive back-catalog of artists, and wide array of available genres, Last.fm through its smartphone app is sure to satisfy the musical tastes of even the most demanding music buffs.
The Pandora app is the natural extension of the Pandora website. Powered by the Music Genome Project, Pandora considers more than 400 musical attributes when creating its lists of recommended music designed to match your music preferences.
The smartphone app provides users with the same controls as the online app, including the ability to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” each song. The app also provides one-touch access to all of your stored radio stations.
To help pay for the service, Pandora runs a lot of ads and commercials. If you’re just using the app to provide an endless stream of music and don’t care about popup ads, then the copious amount of ads won’t really bother you. However, if you’re looking for a more visual experience, like checking out album artwork, then the popup ads could prove to be a distraction.
An upgrade to the Pandora One premium service removes all advertising at an annual cost of just $36. Additional benefits of Pandora One include an increased number of skips per day (the 12-skip daily max has been removed), and a wide range of custom “skins” to give your player an appealing look and feel.
If you’re looking for something a little different, a little smaller and super hip, then you’ll definitely want to check out OurStage. They don’t have the impressive music catalogs that you’ll see with Last.fm and Pandora, but what they do have is a fresh platform for fans of new music, indie music, and even unsigned bands.
Unlike some of the other free apps, OurStage contains no advertising and they give away $5,000 each month to the indie artist with the highest rating. Users can rate music with standard “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” features. The app tracks your preferences and begins making recommendations of the new music you’re likely to enjoy.
The focus on new and indie music makes OurStage an excellent app for music fans that are looking for something off the beaten path.
Slacker Radio (FREE)
With more than 100 preprogrammed radio stations, the Slacker Radio app is a true portable radio station. Designed for the BlackBerry, the app lets you listen to any of your personalized radio stations, or choose one that was configured by their music experts. The app allows users to create their own stations on the fly, as well as reading up on musician biographies and album reviews.
Out of range of your network? No problem. Slacker Radio includes an awesome feature that allows users to temporarily store their music preferences offline, which means even if your BlackBerry isn’t connected to the internet, the music is still available. This makes Slacker Radio an overall excellent choice for anyone looking to turn their BlackBerry into a portable juke box.