Friday, October 2, 2009

Now that you have that smartphone ...

... you've no doubt been scanning all the options for apps to load on it. Go ahead and get all those geo-locators, games, organizers, and social networking apps, just to see what all the fuss is about. Then go get something you'll REALLY use. Like radio. Yes, I'm glad I can use my iPhone to find decent restaurants in places I've never been just by flicking my wrist, and I definitely spend too much time honing my solitaire skills. But it's the radio apps that are mostly responsible for all that data streaming I see on my cell phone bill each month (fortunately unlimited!).

Not to get too poetic here, but think about that classic American experience of driving for hours across the countryside, picking up radio stations in different locales, especially at night when the combination of FCC regulations and atmospheric conditions make it possible to pick up stations from hundreds of miles away. It's tougher and tougher to have that experience these days because of what's gone on in the radio business.

Now, though, you don't even need to work around those fluky sun spot cycles to pick up radio from hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Load up a few radio apps on the smartphone, plug it into the car stereo or a set of speakers at home, and you're suddenly in the hall for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, or Walt Disney Hall in LA.

Among the options, I'll start with the shameless plug, but there's a good reason for it. The All-Classical WGBH app is something we put together a few months ago to get our own stuff out there. Couple of good reasons to use this to get started: it's FREE, and it's simple. Just launch it, and the music starts. Because it's a pretty basic app, it takes virtually no time to get up and running, and, as we've been doing since we started the All-Classical WGBH, it comes through a high bandwidth stream that offers just about the best sound quality you can get on the net. And did I mention that it's free?

Another nice radio app is WunderRadio, which costs a few bucks but has some really nice features. First of all, it pulls in lots of stations from around the world that some of the other all-purpose radio apps don't seem to locate. So the BBC and Deutschlandradio are right there for you, along with a ton of others. WunderRadio also has a built in web browser, so if you're on an iPhone, where only one app can run at a time, you can still surf while listening. Cool.

More on other smartphone radio apps in an upcoming post.

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