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iSoft #36

Just a couple of days ago I happened to try iPhone with the forth version of OS installed. The first acquaintance was quick and rather muddled, but it took place and I would say successfully. First of all, I was surprised by the wallpaper under the icons. Secondly, the type of use is changing momentarily. I think in the summer, when the firmware will be available for everyone, the first apps to I will launch will be Skype, Twitterrfic, IM+ and a pair of other personal favorites. Third of all, the folders. It is really great when you are can gather all games in one place, whereas the other directory can contain messaging apps and the third one can be filled with other software. All of this seems trivial when we are talking about other devices OS from other manufacturers. Of course, it took Apple quite a long time to implement these little functions. The companys idea of multitasking was a laughing stock for long time, but now, I think, the things will go faster, as now Apples lineup has only two central products with the third one likely to appear. There is no splitting into a hundred of different handsets for various occasions within the product range. Not every company can afford such an interesting strategy. I believe in Apples case it proved successful as the company can improve even tiniest OS shortcomings, working to create a true uberphone with vengeance and reap the laurels without forgetting to add new functions. One more important event for the company is likely to happen in a couple of months, so lets wait.

Today Id like to tell you about one paid programm. I had to buy it as there are no free analogues or you can find them, but they are by far not as comfortable in use as the paid version.

Radio

Im really fond of listening to the internet radio, especially before going to sleep and while Im working. I would listen to it on the go if there were no problems with 3G in Moscow (youd better have the unlimited tariff plan for data transfer). I download less and less music doing it only in case when it is something really worth it. Im fed up with downloading huge volumes of music when you are killing gigabytes of space and then they get buried in your hard drive as you feel sorry about deleting them, but at the same time do not have time for listening. That is why Im listening to the internet radio that is rich in stations of any kinds and genres. You can find famous and amateur ones; here and there something interesting can be discovered.

There are some nuances, of course. When working with a laptop, for instance, I make use of standard tools such as iTunes, which possesses a wonderful collection of stations. You just select the station, press Play and enjoy. Some troubles can occur. Thus, sometimes I fail to turn on my favorite friskyRadio station. The reason remains unknown as when it is not turned on in iTunes it can be easily switched on in iPhone.

So about the iPhone. There are plenty internet radio apps for it. I have to say that I tried many of them, but didnt find the ideal one. There is always a trap. Everything works, but looks awful and search is not good or everything looks nice, but you cannot understand how to add a station or even how to use the app.

Last week I found the app that meets all of my requirements in full, so Im eager to share my news with you. Its a great mistake not to use iPhone for the internet radio listening. You can connect the device to speakers and listen to the radio like I do sometimes. You can listen at night to fall asleep. You can listen using headphones when reading a book in a daytime. It was not for nothing that at the OS4.0 presentation words were said about the internet radio launched in minimized mode one more demonstration of multi-tasking.

My Precious

My precious is called Internet Radio Box and costs $0.99, but IMHO the developers could have set the price at $5 and many would have paid with pleasure. When you enter iTunes to learn about the app dont forget to look at comments and remarks. It is a rarity, but you will see only the highest marks and words of excitement. Generally speaking, it is this information that inspired me to buy the app. The icons look well but lets launch the app and look what it has to impress you with.

When you activate the app you see the screensaver headphones plugged in Radio Box. The first page contains links to various radio stations.

  • Favorites your choices. Should you like a station just press + and it will be memorized - very convenient.
  • History - is a list of the stations listened. Id prefer to see some additional information here: when you listened to a station, particularly at what time, on what day, etc.
  • Station collections for now presented by RadioBox Directory, SHOUTcast Radio and icecast directory. Each one contains hundreds of radio stations to satisfy any taste. Of course, nothing prevents you from adding that of your own it they are not in a list, but about this a bit later.

On the main screen we select a radio station and start listening. The lower part of the window shows four icons: radio stations, player, browser and settings. When a station is chosen, the Player opens. To appreciate the appearance look at the screenshots. For me everything looks beautiful and in the right place. You are free to change players wallpaper. You see the title of the station and current track; under them are a volume slider, Wi-Fi and 3G levels indicators. To the lower right the button for adding to Favorites, to the lower left bit rate information. Sometime after the playback started the player gets slightly minimized, so to view all the controls you should press somewhere. There is the Play/Pause button, how can you live without one. And one more button, opening lots of additional options, is +:

  • Go to radio station internet page.
  • Activation/deactivation of SleepTimer for those who like listening to the radio in bed.
  • To publish in Twitter to quickly notify your friends what you are listening to.
  • The implementation of fully minimized mode leaves much to be desired. There is a redirection to Safari (in Quick Time), you are free to minimize it and check your mail or do something else. To stop the playback you have to open the Safari again.

Lets go to settings now. A lot of interesting things can be found here. The app counts data traffic, as you can see I havent used it with 3G yet, only with WLAN. A very thoughtful feature. Then you are can limit bit rate for 3G/EDGE or block this capability all together. Below you can select players background image. You may also make use of shaking function to change stations. The function works well, no problems there. A few words about other menu items:

  • Favorites at Startup displays you favorite stations at the device
  • Autoplay at Startup the playback starts with the program being launched
  • Minimized mode makes the player minimized as I described above.
  • Large Buffer I dont really understand what this is for.
  • Twitter Login contains your Twitter data for quick updates about what and where you are listening to. When I use this function some people thank me for the information and go there to listen to music.
  • Web-Interface helps you to add a station to the player using laptops browser. Just launch Web-Interface, choose the address from the app and the page will open as it is shown in a screenshot. You can look through your favorite stations, add some channels or even playback radio (the playback will be done on iPhone).

With that the app capabilities are not over as in the screen lower part there is one more icon its own browser. Here you can look at everything you wish, search for stations, girls, food, drinks, etc.

Conclusion

Todays iSoft highlighted only one application, but what a good app it is! Some small drawbacks are present though. For instance, you have found the station and added it to the Favorites while player is launching - in this case you may not see the station name. You have to delete it from Favorites and then when playback begins add it again.

As for the rest this internet-player looks good and boasts wonderful functionality, it doesnt devour the battery, works in a bit strange, but nonetheless minimized mode; music sounds good, the connection is fast.

I strongly recommend this app to internet-radio fans. It is the best application available at the moment IMHO.

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Sergei Kuzmin (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal

Published — 04 May 2010

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