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Top 5 radio apps for Android

Whether Santa brought you a Nexus 7, a Galaxy Note or even a Kindle Fire, here's a great way of turning your £200 tablet into a £5 wireless with the best radio apps.

Android's rapidly gaining on iOS to become the radio lover's ideal operating system: and with the lower prices of Android hardware - including Google's own Nexus 7 - we predict that Android's growth will continue. We've picked five of the best Android apps for radio lovers across the UK so you've something fun to listen to.

TuneIn Radio
Free, Pro version 61p
Still the easiest and best radio tuner to use, TuneIn Radio contains radio stations and on-demand content from over 70,000 radio stations all over the globe: with a great holo user interface and the most up-to-date database of stations and shows that we can find; many with alternative streaming addresses to allow rock-solid reception. That said, TuneIn is not that good at UK radio. The "local radio" section gives particularly poor results in the UK; BBC local radio stations are marked as 'community' stations, and FM frequencies for national stations like BBC Radio 1 are seemingly picked at random. However, this is a best of breed app for a global radio listener. There's a paid-for version which offers recording.

Radioplayer
Free
Official app allowing access to all UK radio stations, this is a good companion to TuneIn. Where TuneIn fails, Radioplayer works - with accurate data and unparallelled information that accurately knows your local stations and recommends new stuff to listen to, based on local area and trending stations. It lacks, as yet, all the BBC's on-demand content, and some areas of UI are a clear hangover from iOS and slightly jarring on Android, but is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and accurate service for UK radio.

Stitcher
Free
A podcast-catcher with a difference - Stitcher delivers streaming mobile-friendly versions of your favourite podcasts, with a good, if US-centric, catalogue of programmes. This does mean that podcasts stream quickly and reliably, no matter how poor your connection is; it also means no listening in places with no connection, and the audio quality is significantly poorer in Stitcher than a 'proper' podcast-catcher. The in-built random discovery channels are good, but deliver too much US content; and you can't put your own URLs in, if you like niche content.

Pocket Casts
£1.99
Reliable podcast-catcher that works offline, Pocket Casts is a well-written and fully-featured app, including commercial skipping, playback of video podcasts (including, to save your battery, playback of video podcasts in audio-only form), and a host of other extras. It has a decent catalogue of podcasts, with the ability to add new podcasts yourself. A slightly iOS-like user interface takes a bit of getting used to, and the app's not been updated since February 2012 (though it works just great).

NPR News
Free
Pecuilarly-named app - because it has access to all of NPR's programming (not just news) in chapterised form - so you can listen to individual stories, as well as segments of full programmes (or, indeed, those programmes in full). Grab each chapter and playlist them, so you can create your own bizarrely-intonated NPR station. This is a much better way of enjoying radio than, for example, an unyielding lump of 3 hours of BBC Radio 4's Today programme on iPlayer. The app also includes music and arts programming (including Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (aka The News Quiz), and Radiolab (aka The Best Show On Earth), along with Cartalk and TED Radio. Oh, and it also includes all NPR station live feeds too. BBC? This is how to do a radio app.

Have we missed one? What's your favourite? Do let us know in the comments.

Particularly: we've not linked to any radio station specific app here, because most of them offer little that TuneIn or Radioplayer doesn't. But if there are specific station apps that you think make the grade - once more, the comments are open.

James Cridland is the Managing Director of Media UK, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business.
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11 comments

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Recommendations: 0
Martin Phillp
posted

I’ve started using XiiaLive on Android. This allows you to access specific stream links, which is great if you’ve got a restricted data allowance. It allows you to use websites such as Radio Feeds and The Stream Center from your browser to find a station, which then opens up the app.

Recommendations: 0
James Martin
posted

Can’t go wrong with TuneIn, and available for everything from iOS to Blackberry and everything inbetween.

Recommendations: 0
Mike Russell
posted

Excellent list of radio friendly apps. The good news is they’re all on iOS too. TuneIn is well worth the upgrade to pro in my opinion. It’s still my app of choice for discovering radio stations from all over the world.

Recommendations: 0
Graham Mack
posted

Check out Talk Stream Live on iOS. It ranks the most listened to Talk radio shows around the world being listened to through the app right now and it’s free.

Recommendations: 0
Brian Christopher Winter
posted

Got Tunein, found it a doddle for a thickie like me to master.

Recommendations: 0
Larry Gifford
posted

You might want to check out the new KIRO RADIO app out of Seattle with their companion website. Just launched with over 10,000 hours of searchable, chunked audio which has been metatagged for the past five years.

Recommendations: 1
Rupert Brun
posted

I very much like Doggcatcher for podcasts. There are a lot of menu settings and customisation you can configure, making it very powerful. Or you can let each feed run with the default settings. With a plugin it even offers varispeed.

Recommendations: 0
Robin Juste Emery
posted

I use TuneIn on all my portable devices, iOS, Android and my lovely Logitech Squeezebox radio. So many stations to choose from and the Pro version of this app is well worth the money for ad free browsing.

Also I love the way the app suggests stations within my location and based on my choice of station.

The iPad version of this app is brilliant.
I also use XiiaLive for manual stream listening where a listen live link is not available within the Shoutcast directory.

For iPad I also recommend Rad.io – which is also FREE.

Recommendations: 0
Shrey Puranik
posted

Big fan of TuneIn. I use it to listen to stations from all over the world and find that it’s a lot easier to use than some of the more bulky apps where finding that Listen Live option is a difficult challenge. Another point on TuneIn is that you can continue to use your device while playing the radio audio in the background. I was surprised by the number of bespoke stations apps where background streaming isnt an option!

Recommendations: 0
James Anderson
posted

Pocket Casts allows users to access podcasts effortlessly on their mobile devices. This is one great app that I enjoy using myself and would recommend to other users as well

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