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The UK Radioplayer tablet app

On Android or iOS, you should install this now if you love UK radio

I have a hunch that tablets are more likely to be used as radio receiver replacements, since they have largish speakers. They should deliver considerably more time-spent-listening than headphone-delivered audio from a mobile phone: headphones are largely incompatible with "doing something else while listening", while speakers lend themselves to that task with ease. Nevertheless, many radio stations have decent apps for mobile: but curiously few have capable tablet apps.

The Radioplayer tablet app launched a few days ago simultaneously on iPad and Android. Radioplayer is wholly-owned by the UK radio industry (unlike, say, TuneIn) and should offer the best user experience for a UK listener. You might have their phone apps already installed: or you'll use Radioplayer every time you listen to a UK radio station online.

I played with the Radioplayer app on my new Nexus 7 (2013), and was impressed.

Perhaps taking some cues from Google's redesigns, the app is a card-based experience, showing different columns containing different ways to discover new radio stations. Columns include a station list, recommended stations, stations which are currently trending, catch-up programming to listen to and stations specifically for my location. Most stations come with schedule information, too.

Listen to a station, and you either get a default - but detailed - display, including images of the current presenter and a run-down of the station's current Facebook activity, or you get a bespoke view from stations involved, like Absolute Radio, who also get you to log in to hear a more personalised version of the station. You can 'series-link' programmes that you enjoy, so you can always hear the latest episode, too.

The app feels like a proper Android app, unlike many in the Google Play Store: the right logos, the right sharing intents (I can actually share a station I'm listening to on Google+ now!), and even a way of pausing the playback in the notification area. This isn't a lazy iOS port: and is all the better for it.

Reception appeared relatively strong when I used it. The Nexus 7 (2013)'s speakers are particularly loud, and the unit functions well as a 'radio receiver' when used around the house.

Inevitably, if you're a real fan of a particular radio station, you'll use the "proper" app from a radio station itself, if that exists. The Radioplayer apps (both mobile and tablet) fill the gap of a user that wants to find more radio to listen to. The tablet app is particularly good at surfacing new stations: and, as such, this app co-exists well with station apps.

All we need now is for suppliers of tablets in the UK - hello, Tesco - to pre-install this app as a simple and straightforward way of encouraging tablet use for media consumption. The more encouragement, the more comfortable a user will be using their tablet for entertainment. And that has to be a good thing for everyone.

You can install the tablet version from Google Play and the iTunes App Store on your iPad.

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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Recommendations: 0
Brian Butterworth

Why the fluck is there TWO Android apps: one for tablets and one for phones?

Android doesn’t work like that, it’s apps can adapt to the screen size of the device they are installed on.

Why do it the annoying “Apple” way?

Recommendations: 0
James Cridland

They’re two very different apps, that’s why…

Recommendations: 0
David Henderson

Tried 3 searches for Community Stations in my neck of the woods, none of them found! How can all of UK radio be in one place when they’re not even listed? Secondly, each search returns 100 results? Really? The results shown are not even remotely like what I searched for. Needs a lot of improvement before I’ll switch for Tune In to this!

Recommendations: 0
Martin Phillp

Not every CR station is on UK Radioplayer, although the amount of stations from the sector has improved. My two CR’s local to me are on it, Rinse FM and Reprezent.

Recommendations: 0
Richard Berry

Stations not being on the player is really an issue for them, rather than RadioPlayer. Our station at Sunderland is on and we have been for some time and there are lots of benefits for us in being there. Of course, not every station will see it that way and there may not be the skills needed to make it happen.
Clearly this is still very much a work in progress for the developers and stations. Spurious returns could be as much down to how stations manage their meta-data as it does to the search engine

Recommendations: 0
Phil Edmonds

On David’s comment about not “all” of UK Radio being on the system – that is true. In fact ‘Radio Players’ slogan is “UK radio in one place” – note the subtle lack of word “all”.

Unfortunately in this article James Cridland has been slightly misleading. Specifically using the phrase “you’ll use Radioplayer every time you listen to a UK radio station online.”

Not quite, it seems Bauer are still opening their own players from their websites, I’ve just visited Key 103’s webpage and got sent to their in house player , if I go via the radio player site or search from another station, I get a different Radio Player console

James has blogged about this in the past so “he should know better”.

Then of course there are many Community stations not on the platform. I dare say there must be some of the small Commercial Radio stations who are not on either.

The cost to Community Radio stations to be part of Radio Player is not great in the grand scheme of things, but in these cash strapped times even 99 quid can feel a luxury.

However with the addition of mobile and tablet apps and the new version of the web console rolling out over the coming weeks, with native iOS and Android playback, there is increasing value for small stations for their investment.

Recommendations: 0
James Cridland

Hi, Phil,

You’re right – in certain circumstances you’ll get a station’s own player like Bauer currently do. I don’t understand why Bauer aren’t playing the game properly, and neither, I suspect, do they anymore (everyone related to that decision has left). Since the to-be-released new Radioplayer desktop console has considerably improved support for advertising, I’d hope they see sense there. Bauer are the only large broadcaster doing this: and they have considerable traffic on the Radioplayer anyway. I’m not trying to deliberately mislead.

Richard – I know that the Radioplayer team has done considerable work to make it easy for small stations to get on the platform. There are no ‘considerable skills’ required these days, as far as I know – I think the platform supports an automated ‘design your own player’ that spits out the right HTML these days.

Recommendations: 0
Phil Edmonds

Going slightly off-topic of the tablet app, yes there is an online “console generator”, which as long as you can provide graphics that are the defined size and just want a basic graphic and link to your website in the “content” bottom half of the player, will build everything ready for you to upload to your website. So pretty basic to moderate skills are all you need.

You also need to provide information about your station, again via a web page interface. It takes a little time to collate this, but it’s not massively difficult. Most tricky is defining your broadcast area. However in a lot of cases a ‘square box’ on the map would be close enough to be acceptable.

The mobile interface also looks after itself – as long as you can provide a low bit rate audio stream. (Of course this may involve an extra cost to your streaming provider.)

By the way I can speak with authority, as I work for Community Radio stations both “in” and “out” of the Radio Player system. (The pros and cons of being part of Radio Player probably makes an interesting topic for discussion another day.)

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