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TuneIn Radio - App Review

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published May 12th 2013

With the explosion of online services, it feels like you're trying to get the soot and dust from the blast out of your eyes. You need some intermediary to negotiate the information jungle that has overgrown and been fertilised by the fallout, which is what TuneIn Radio acts as. Like the Google Maps software on your iPod, this app allows you to navigate your way through the undergrowth and determine whether a radio station is friend or foe to your tastes by offering you seventy thousand radio stations from every format from talk radio to dubstep, drum and bass to classical and sports stations.

You can tune in by selecting a continent, country, genre or language through the search engine. As with any iPod app, it's clear and easy to read, intuitive to use and can be quite useful in getting news from home while abroad. This is more that what you can get on shortwave, with better sound quality to boot. Plug this into a stereo with an iPod dock and you effectively turn it into an international broadcast receiver. Thus it would be a great way to expose your children to other cultures by showing what people listen to on the radio. This could help with your child's French lessons, promote global awareness of issues or even give your child new music to party to. Educational or other advantages aside, what are its drawbacks?

One of the major drawbacks is that it has to buffer every few minutes, which can be annoying if you're listening to a favourite song or a station has to make an emergency announcement appealing for blood donors. When I tuned to an Angelino station before I got the app, the programme I was listening to cut out every few minutes, or even seconds. Since I had to go back to the stereo and refresh the link, this became a source of annoyance that tried my patience. Fortunately, TuneIn Radio tells you how fast and how much it is buffering by and does it automatically. You have to be in a wifi hotspot put it on a mobile phone to tune in, so an iPhone would be an ideal platform if you're on the move. Since the iPhone and iPod Touch, which I write this essay on, hasn't got an FM or DAB radio, it does show the shortcomings of both app and device. If you want my advice, use fm or DAB for local services and this app for when you're on the move, on an iPhone. If you're using an iPod, connect to a stereo, allowing to keep the battery charged at the same time. If you're at home and want to listen to international broadcasts, this comes into its own, if you can put up with the buffering every few minutes. This may help you cut through the digital jungle and you may find your audio Eldorado, especially in a Cadillac.
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