How do you like to listen to the radio? For years I’ve been locked into a cycle of appreciating little that was released since the turn of the century, preferring instead to submerge myself in classic rock and blues from the 1960′s and 70′s – with a dash of prog thrown in.
Aware that I should probably listen to the occasional contemporary sound, I became a convert to the BBC’s 6 Music channel, which plays an astounding mix of great tunes from the 1950′s to the 2010′s. Now able to get my fix of good music, it suddenly occurred to be one day when I was heading out that I would be unable to listen to this digital-only radio station in the street – without a suitable mobile app with which to do so.
That was the day I discovered TuneIn Radio for Windows Phone – and I haven’t looked back since.
What It Does
Available from the Windows Phone Apps+Games store, the free TuneIn Radio app offers 70,000 radio stations and 2 million on-demand streams for you to listen to through your phone. Thanks to new platform features introduced in Windows Phone 8, TuneIn Radio can play in the background while you use other apps and favourite stations can be pinned to the Start screen.
There are various advantages to this app. While Windows Phone 7 handsets ship with FM radio, some Windows Phone 8 devices don’t. If you don’t have a digital radio player in your home or car, TuneIn Radio can probably stream the channel you’re looking for. There is more than just music available with this app, however, which also finds talk and sport radio, searches by language and location and also supports podcasts.
It will also recall your last-played station, offering it as an option on the main menu.
TuneIn Radio Features
You’ve seen the stats, and you know what it does. But what else is on offer?
Available radio can be found via the Browse screen, with various options grouping different radio types. For instance, a look into the Local Radio option will display a list of radio stations in your area, as well as an option to list national networks. TuneIn Radio uses localization to detect your location – you need to allow or deny this feature when you install and update the app. Selecting a location will display a list of appropriate stations from which to choose.
The Settings screen (available by dragging up the ellipses at the foot of the screen) offers functionality for location settings and lock screen options, as well as the opportunity to connect your TuneIn account to the device.
Other Browse screen menus are similarly structured, making it easy to find radio that suits your interests. Once a station is playing, you will be able to swipe left and right to see relevant information such as the channel’s line-up for the day, relevant updates on Twitter, related stations and a choice of streams in different qualities – ideal if you’re having trouble with the strength of your mobile Internet connection.
Ease of Use
TuneIn Radio intelligently separates the selection of radio stations in the Browse screen with your preset stations, enabling you to easily swipe left and tap your preferred choice upon launch. There is also a very good (albeit slow, at times) search box.
The real ease of use with this responsive app comes from its embracing of the Windows Phone design language (that thing we once called “Metro”), and the TuneIn Radio is able to integrate itself with the Music+Video hub easily. But what does this mean?
Basically, that the play/pause and back/forth buttons are available by tapping the volume controls (which when held will alter the sound levels), that the app can be launched from within the hub and that the last listened channel is listed within the hub.
It’s yet another example of how well Windows Phone 8 supports media-based apps, and this integration can either be embraced by the user or ignored, depending on preference.
Comparison With Other Audio Services
Windows Phone has several online radio players available (the Radio Lounge UK app, formerly known as BBC Radio, is a good example) but none has the depth of audio choice that is offered by TuneIn Radio.
Here’s a scenario for you – if I get into my car to head out on a journey, I will make a choice between two outstanding apps that offer music for free. One is the built-in Nokia Music, giving me a choice of various genres and ad hoc “radio” mixes, and the other is TuneIn Radio, which gives me access to the best of the world’s online radio.
It’s an easy choice, really, which is why TuneIn Radio is such a vitally important choice for Windows Phone owners.
Incidentally, this is a multi-platform app, one whose developers are able to focus their energies into making sure that TuneIn Radio is as true to the chosen platform and as stable as possible. Having tried TuneIn Radio on Android and iPad, each version is a shining example to other developers and app publishers that cross-platform support shouldn’t be limited.
TuneIn Radio is available for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 (the differences between can be tricky to understand).
TuneIn Radio was one of the best apps on Windows Phone 7. Following my upgrade to Windows Phone 8 I discovered that the app was nowhere to be seen – as you might imagine, this came as a bit of a blow.
Fortunately Nokia came to the rescue, ensuring that the app was available for its Windows Phone 8 devices the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920, and my faith in TuneIn Radio was restored.
If you love music and have a Windows Phone, there is no reason not to have this amazing, free app. Its presence on the platform is a very good reason to buy a Windows Phone device.