App Review:IHeartRadio

Streaming radio is awesome, however, no matter where you turn, there’s no set, easy way of listening to radio over the internet.  Sure, there’s a ton of free streams out there, and they’re pretty easy to find, and pretty easy to listen to as well, but on the other hand, many terrestrial radio stations have jumped into the mix, and whenever commercial enterprise is concerned, things have to get difficult.  For example, many terrestrial radio stations will stream free to your computer, but you generally have to stream through their player, because they don’t want you to side step whatever ads they’re going to stream to you while you’re listening to the station.  The odd thing about that is, who’s going to sit there staring at their computer screen and watch ads while listening to the radio?  Radio, at least since television, almost by definition is something that you listen to while doing something else… driving, cooking, cleaning the house, washing the car, partying in your back yard with friends, etc.  So, realistically, it’s pretty stupid for commercial radio stations to sell ad space to flash still image ads on the player as virtually no one is going to be actually looking at their computer screen.  Even if one is sitting there working on the computer while listening to streaming radio, you generally just minimize the player window and go about your business.  Commercial radio seems to consider ‘over the air’ commercials, which you WOULD hear, a separate deal on the internet, at least on some stations, and you often hear a different commercial than what’s going out over the air, or, if they’ve not sold any advertising for the internet, you hear a loop saying the broadcast will continue momentarily.  In either case, terrestrial radio streams cannot be played directly on an iPhone like you can on a desktop or laptop.  So, instead of a generic player, each major radio station company is jumping on board with a player designed specifically for the iPhone.  Clear Channel has come up with IHeartRadio, which is the subject of today’s review.

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IHeartRadio is a free, and easy to use terrestrial radio stream player for Clear Channel radio stations.  Clear Channel, with over 1200 stations is definately the industry powerhouse.  IHeartRadio boasts over 750 of those stations in every format you can think of, with more being added.  The interface is very easy to use.  Using location services, you can call up the local Clear Channel stations in your area, or view stations by city, by a particular personality you’re looking for, if that personality is Ryan Seacrest , Elvis Duran, or Johnjay and Rich.  I think the personality feature would be alot better if I could choose from any personality available, not just a chosen few.  For example, Rush Limbaugh and Dr Micheal Savage appear on some Clear Channel stations, so they, along with every other radio personality, big or small should be on the list, and then instead of just bringing up one channel, as it does, a list of stations that carry those personalities could pop up, along with a dedicated channel that streams just that show.  Along with browsing by local stations, or all listed cities, you can browse by format, which is good for listeners like me that are primarily into listening to talk radio.   The favorites feature allows you to build a  list of favorite stations, but unless I’m missing it, there’s no way to remove a station from your favorites list sans deleting the app and resyncing it to iTunes to reload the app onto the phone.  Sort of like cutting down a tree and regrowing it because you don’t like one particular branch.  ITunes tagging is available if  iTunes tagging is your gig, it’s not mine, but it’s there if you want that feature.  Also, there’s a shake feature where you can shuffle by city or genre or both.  Personally, I don’t see the need for a shake to shuffle feature, but I think that every app developer out there codes it in just because they can.

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When listening to a station, the album art is displayed along with the artist and song title and distributor, which is nice if you’re wondering about the song that’s playing, although, more often than not it seems the album art, lyrics, etc are not available for every song.

Overall, a good application.  I’ve yet to hear it stop to buffer even when streaming over the 3G network, which is probably the biggest thing overall since most of the time, you’re likely just listening.

Rating:4 stars ****

I’m giving IHeartRadio 4 stars, and I’ll think about upping it to 5 stars once they get WRVA out of Richmond, VA so I can listen to my favorite show, The Savage Nation.  I’m looking forward to them adding it soon as Richmond, VA has popped up on the list, but there’s no local Richmond stations listed there yet.  Why I’m not sure, but hey, Clear Channel, if you want that 5th star…. Give me my WRVA 🙂

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