Do you want to listen to your music, but not pay for it? Well you can. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating illegal music downloads, but instead a fantastic streaming music app called Sky.FM. Of course, it has its own premium paid plan but the free service is fantastic, provided you don’t mind the occasional advert being thrown in.
Normally I would want Spotify on my phone, since I am a fan of the service. But I refuse on principle to pay $10 a month just to have it on my phone and tablet. Sky.FM fits in nicely – high quality streaming music free of charge, with the option to upgrade later if I wanted to. It advertises itself as a “radio station” with over 40 channels to choose from, including music from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s 90’s and further on. You can also filter between genres such as jazz, pop, rock, hard rock, soul, and more.
Free Streaming Radio
Once you’ve installed it, open it up and let’s take a look at what it has to offer.
The All tab is fairly self-explanatory. It gives you a list of everything on offer. You can filter between the Popular channels or simply bring up an alphabetical list (which suits me, as I prefer to decide on my own what’s good and what’s not).
As you can see, there are two other tabs at the top there – Favorites and Styles. The former lists the stations you have marked as your favorites, so you can get easier access to them later. Styles are all the included musical genres, so you can choose what you feel like listening to. A bit of cheesy pop maybe? Or perhaps some classic rock? Or maybe you are more in the mood for a bit of jazz? Just tap on what you want to hear.
Once you’ve tapped on a category, you will see what is currently playing under Now Playing and the last three previous songs under Track History. The three previous songs under Track History can’t be played once they are over, which seems a little pointless at first but is very handy in case you hear a track you like, and want to later buy it or find the artist to explore more of their discography.
The track under Now Playing immediately kicks in as soon as the page loads, and what is really neat is that the song continues playing in the background as you do other things on your phone, such as opening other apps and even locking the phone. The music can be stopped by shutting down the app completely, or by pressing the pause button.
Sharing & Social
See that button (in the screenshot above) of the three people and the star? That’s the app’s sharing button (and it’s oddly different to the standard iOS sharing button). If you tap on this, you will get your usual sharing options:
One interesting feature there is Sleep Timer, where you can set the app to switch off after a set period. This is ideal for when you are lying in bed at night listening to music, and you know you will fall asleep with the earbuds in your ears. Rather than have heavy metal music blasting your eardrums all night, you can preset the app to switch off after say 30 minutes or one hour.
The Community tab in the app shows all Facebook mentions and Twitter mentions of Sky.FM, both from their official Facebook and Twitter pages, and also from people who tagged Sky.FM in their status updates. Some of this can be a drag to read as you get the usual fools complaining about this, that, and the other (“why don’t you have a channel for polka-dot wearing banjo players? I am DISGUSTED!”) but the status updates from Sky.FM themselves can sometimes be interesting.
And if you decide you do want to go premium, it is a very reasonable $4.99 a month (which is half the price of Spotify), with more channels, no adverts, higher quality audio (for all you audiophiles out there) and the ability to play the music in your favourite music player. They even throw in a 7-day free trial period.
Unlike Spotify, you can’t choose specific song titles or artists, but if all you want to do is listen to music then Sky.FM is definitely the app to download. Let us know in the comments what you think of it. Have you gone premium?
Image credit: Ghetto Blaster (eko)