We continue our tour through BlackBerry streaming audio apps today with another radio-based app. Last week we looked at TuneIn Radio. I came away impressed. It has a comprehensive list of stations and an intuitive browsing system. It also includes podcasts. This week we’ll turn our intention to an app that has been around quite a bit longer: iheartradio. It provides a different feature set than TuneIn, so let’s see how it stacks up.
After downloading iheartradio you’ll have to create an account. It doesn’t take long at all, and you can do it right from the app. After that you’re free to browse around.
As with TuneIn, iheartradio brings you live feeds from radio stations around the country. You can start by browsing local stations. Just click on the first option, and the app will use your GPS to find stations in your local market. The only problem occurs when you don’t have a freely accessible GPS. This is the case with Verizon. Because the GPS function is locked to most third party apps, iheartradio cannot populate a list of local stations. I have to use the next feature If you want to find your local market you can click into the All Cities option. That will give you an alphabetical, by city, list of all radio markets in the country. The list is unwieldy, though the search function on top helps. Problem is, it only searches by city. So if I’m looking for radio stations in New Jersey, I have to type in the specific market. There are also no shortcuts for browsing up and down the list, so you’re stuck scrolling with the trackball or trackpad. That’s just unmanageable with a list this long. Then we get to the browsing by format. This is a bit better than browsing by market, because the lists are smaller. There are a number of formats provided on iheartradio, but unfortunately there are no sub-genres. So if I want to find my old favorite, WSOU, I have to dig pretty deeply. I could not find that station in any of the lists. If you’re into radio personalities, there is an option for that, too. I didn’t recognize many of the shows or the hosts, but I’m sure there’s something around for everyone. The good thing is that it updates as the day goes along, so you won’t be clicking into a morning show after it’s over. There are also premium personalities. When you click into these you have to enter your email address in order to get a link, or you can create your account by clicking the button, which takes you to a mobile web page. It will cost a fee, of course — it looks like $2 for a day, $4 for five days, and $6 for 30 days.
Playing stations and favorites
Once you browse through and find a station you want, just click on it to play. On the Now Playing tab you’ll see the station’s logo along with four buttons. That’s Play/Stop, Favorite, Tag/Buy, and Lyrics. These are all pretty self-explanatory, though I’ll make some notes on how they function. When you favorite something, you add the station to your stations list and the song to your songs one. I’m not sure why they don’t allow for one or the other, but that’s the way it is. If you want to play one of your favorite stations, just click on the heart tab atop the screen. There are two sub-tabs, Stations and Songs. You can click on a station to start playing it. If you want to listen to a song, you’ll have to buy it. Nothing will happen if you highlight the song — you have to highlight the Buy button. It will then give you an option to download the song or the tone, though the tone is not available on all songs. I actually couldn’t get it for any of the songs I tested. Of course, the buying function isn’t perfect. I haven’t installed Verizon’s VCAST Music on my BlackBerry, so I can’t buy songs from iheartradio. I’m not sure what the purchasing system is through other carriers. You can remove songs and stations from your favorites as well. Just highlight them, click menu, and select Remove Song. One neat feature is the randomizer. This is the circle logo in the main menu bar. Click that and iheartradio will take you to a random station. I tried it once and it took me to a rock station, which works. I did it again and it brought up a sports talk station. You can keep hitting the randomizer until you get a station you like.
All told, I’m far more impressed with TuneIn than I am with iheartradio. TuneIn was easier to navigate and had a much larger selection of stations. Still, that’s not my biggest complaint. While I did enjoy iheartradio in a general sense, I did get frustrated at times with the lag. When I was playing a station the app would just lag and lag and lag. It made it a bit difficult to navigate through the menus. That said, iheartradio provides a decent selection of radio stations from across the country. I wish it were easier to seek out these stations, but it’s not as if it’s just a list of radio stations and you’re left on your own. The ability to search by format is key, as it presents the most manageable lists. If you’re up for it, you can download iheartradio for free at App World.