As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a news junkie.  I watch or listen to WAY more news then I should, but the news and especially politics is like a soap opera that you know is somewhat trashy, you just cant stop following. 🙂 Anyway, when I drive, I normally listen to a 24hr AM news station.  Unfortunately, AM reception in the bay area is not always that great because of the hills. Solution? Use the iPhone as a digital radio!  So not only can I listen to my 24hr station anywhere/anytime (well, when I’m getting reception at least) but I can get NPR, CNN, BBC, Etc..  Sweet.   Still waiting for a good free app for local collage football. But that is another story. As such, I’ve tried a number of iphone radio, podcasting apps that are free and thought I would share my favorites.

So, lets start at the top..

AOL Radio:  First, it will detect your local stations based on your location which is great.  That is how I get my local news. AOL also have a wide range of music and other news available. 

Revised.  AOL is out, Tunein is in.  Here is why I dumped AOL Radio

Stitcher:  Just updated last week to include many many more pod casts including BBC.  This is not a true radio as AOL Radio is, but pretty close since each pod cast will cue up another pod cast.
Pandora:  Just great.  What more can I say that has not already been said? For those of you that do not know, Pandora will learn what you like based on feedback you provide. Since Pandora is a desktop app as well, I tend to do most of my profile training on the desktop.  It takes a bit a time to get it trained well, but worth it.  This is a bit like Pandora, but instead of matching based on music qualities, it matches based on the songs your friends listen to or the population in general.  More on this in a bit.

For those of you who would like to start using your iPhone as a radio, make sure it has power (more on car iPhone power). Since I use it in the car, I had to use a power adapter which has it own issues of creating engine noise.  More on that here.

For those who have not used either Pandora nor, here is an excerpt from a pretty good write up by Steve Krause:

Nature versus Nurture
Algorithmically, Pandora versus is something like the nature versus nurture debate. Taking the nature side, Pandora’s recommendations are based on the inherent qualities of the music. Give Pandora an artist or song, and it will find similar music in terms of melody, harmony, lyrics, orchestration, vocal character and so on. Pandora likes to call these musical attributes “genes” and its database of songs, classified against hundreds of such attributes, the “Music Genome Project.”

On the nurture side (as in, it’s all about the people around you), is a social recommender. It knows little about songs’ inherent qualities. It just assumes that if you and a group of other people enjoy many of the same artists, you will probably enjoy other artists popular with that group.

Read the full article here..

4 comments on “My top free iPhone digital radio apps

  • Sometimes 3rd party streaming radios just wont do on days when you want to listen to your own stuff. But for some of us who have massive libraries that can’t even fit their foot inside the “limited” 8 and 16 gb drives of their iPhones, then this app is for you.

    If you haven’t already heard of it, you should check out Simplify Media, a free & AMAZING music streaming app for the iPhone & Desktop (Mac/Win). It allows you to stream your beloved music collection over Wifi OR the cellular network with little to no lag. Its easy to set up,

    You load the client on your desktop, it indexes your entire iTunes library to their servers,

    Download the iPhone app to your phone, type in your screen name, and voila!

    You now can access your entire music library. Better yet, you can add up to 15 of your friends’ itunes libraries as well. In addition, it can give artist info and lyrics for any song you play. I tried this feature on some supposedly no-name artists and it still was able to find the artist info and lyrics!

    Oh and since we are talking about music, also check out the iPhone app called Shazam, for when you hear a song being played and want the artist and track info. Just fire it up and aim the mic at the source of the music, and within a few seconds you should be able to quelch those nasty “I need to know what the hell is playing right now” demons in your head.


  • Hey Salim,

    I actually downloaded Simplify Media awhile back, but never got around to trying it. However, since you brought it, one app review on the way. 🙂
    Also, you do not upload your music to their servers (at least that is what the support docs say) you are streaming directly from your machine. The only downside is your machine has to be on for that.
    I also tried Shazam. Pretty cool stuff. The only downside for me is I listen to some pretty obscure stuff. That was awhile ago, so I’ll download it and give it another try.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

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