28 August 2009

iPhone streaming audio

A few of my favorite iPhone apps:

Before I got my iPhone, I already didn’t listen to a lot of music on the radio anymore. I tend to listen to talk more when I turn on the radio. With the iPhone, I’m listening to more music in the car again.

Although I’m going to be talking about streaming audio, I’ll start with the built-in iPod app. I didn’t have an iPod before my iPhone, and one reason was that I was holding out for a multi-function device. So, for you earlier adopters, try to remember what it was like when you got your first digital music player. ^_^ Although, the iPod app also gives me access to more options for talk listening via podcasts.

Of course, several of those are guitar podcasts: Talk about music.

When driving around with the kids, we’ve been listening to Disney radio via ooTunes. I’ve got some music for them on my iPhone, but it’s a nice alternative. And there isn’t a local Disney radio station. Although, I think I originally downloaded ooTunes to serve as a portable radio for listening to a local station.

Pandora is like having a personal DJ. You tell it what music you like, and it plays songs it thinks you will like. It actually seems to work fairly well.

Simplify Media allows you to stream audio from your desktop computer to your iPhone. I was a little disappointed that my iPhone didn’t have enough storage to hold my entire music collection, but Simplify almost makes it a moot issue.

It seems so strange to have a radio station’s signal digitized, packetized, streamed over the internet, broadcast via packet radio, and then fed into my car stereo via an audio cassette adapter. That all seems way over engineered and kludged compared to simple FM radio. It’s also amazing that, even on the Edge network, it tends to work so well. Though, you do have the pause for buffering in the beginning and occasionally the network may not keep up.

Pandora and Simplify, however, give you features that FM can’t. All the music in my iTunes library available to me anywhere I can get on the Edge network or a wi-fi connection. Which, for me, tends to be practically anywhere. I don’t find myself in places without coverage very often.

The annoying thing is that—while reading a book with the Kindle or Stanza apps—I can’t listen to music with any of these except the iPod app. Or if I just want to check my calendar or something, that means killing the music.

The iPod app can also display the current song’s title, artist, and album art on the “unlock” screen, which is convenient. And you can use the button on the cable of the earbuds to pause or skip songs with the iPod app. It is really a shame that these features aren’t available to these other apps.

I’ve concentrated on the primary ways I use these apps, but they have other features as well. And, of course, they aren’t the only apps that do these kinds of things. In fact, I also have three other apps that are for streaming specific radio stations.

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