NextRadio - a good FM radio appFollow @jamescridland
A hybrid radio app that makes FM sexy again
The problem is, however, that FM apps on mobile phones aren't very good. Typically, they are bundled with the phone, and carry little extra features. If you're really lucky you get RDS, but that's it. FM apps look like streaming radio's ugly relative.
All that is changing, though. The NextRadio app - despite sharing a name with everyone's favourite radio conference - looks pretty darned smart.
NextRadio works with selected phones, and will be pre-installed on the Sprint network in the US. Screenshots of the app show a nice electronic programme guide, now-playing information, ways to interact with the station by simply pressing a button, and full-colour now-playing information.
The NextRadio app uses FM to receive the signal, which saves consumer batteries and data, and saves US radio stations their extra music licensing bills for online streams. The additional information comes over the internet.
If this sounds familiar, it ought to - it's hybrid radio. Indeed, the visual component is powered by RadioDNS, so I'm told: and if you have one of the supported phones, the app will apparently work in the UK, as far as visuals are concerned. Just tune into a supported radio station (Capital, Absolute, Heart or Classic should work) and the visuals will pop up alongside the FM signal.
As I'll explore in a speech I'm making at IBC, the user experience for radio needs to improve, for the good health of our medium. From what I can see, the NextRadio app appears to be a significant leap forward.
Oh - and one of the major selling points being promoted by NextRadio? Battery savings. So I can use my phone for longer. There's a sweet sound for the mobile phone networks.
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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It’s advertised as being available on the HTC One, but I can’t currently download it on to mine. A shame as I would’ve liked to had a look at it.
This is exactly the direction in which we’d want to take the development of the app for SABC’s Ukhozi FM the largest radio station on the continent.
Not compatible with the ZTE Kis sadly which may have improved the experience I have with the FM tuner app already supplied which is quite frankly rubbish. FM tuners in my older basic Nokia phones are better than this.
Sadly, Sprint is taking it’s fairly heavy handed approach to device control along with the app. Officially, it’s only working for Sprint’s version of the HTC One and HTC EVO 4G LTE, although they state that other Sprint phones will be added. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason that it wouldn’t work on other phones, however; I sideloaded it to an AT&T HTC One X and got it working. According to a post by Mike Reidis (developer of the Spirit FM tuner app) on XDA Developers, it looks like NextRadio is working with the stock HTC FM Radio Service, so theoretically an HTC phone with FM (running Ice Cream Sandwich) should be able to run NextRadio.
One thing missing in NextRadio is support for RDS. My phone receives and decodes FM-RDS fine with the stock app and with Spirit FM, but NextRadio only pulls data information via IP.
That said, it is a nicely done app. It looks good, the EPG is solid, the tuner interface is good. But Emmis, in locking themselves to Sprint and letting Sprint limit the availability of the app, aren’t getting as wide of exposure for FM on cellphones as they should.