Top Menu

Saabism logo
HOME  |  RIDES   |   PRACTICAL   |   SAABS   |   DRAMA   |   MUSIC   |   APPS   |   OTHER   |   WORLD MAP

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Car apps : internet radio players for Android

For many music fans the streaming radios are one of the important sources for new music hints. I am not an exception and use to listen to them often on the desktop. But this section of the Internet in my Saab was completely closed due to expensive mobile data. This has now changed, I finally could get a mobile phone plan with the data unlimited.

However to find a good free player in my older Android based phone is a different story. I've tried a couple of them and got very different results. Partially because of philosophy of the players but also because of the quality of the code.

So what do I expect from such a player ?

Required features : 1) search function (full text as well as genres), 2) stability of the music play + reliable reconnect if the connection drops, 3) lightweight and simple, 4) support of Shoutcast and 5) to see the track's metadata - artist, track etc.

Nice to have : to send the selected artist and track via e-mail as a reminder to my home e-mail. On one click. Remembering the last listened station or bookmarks.

How I tested : Very simple. Install and drive a couple of hours inside as well as outside of the city, on country roads between towns and villages, where the GSM signal is weaker. Stop somewhere outside, change the station and continue. Hardware : an older HTC Desire with Android 2.2.

Applications :

XiiaLive™ Lite - Online Radio
Pros : Easy to use, can search in genres and text, has history, support tags, writes artist/tracks. The size of 3.6MB is acceptable, a bit at the edge. It's user friendly.
Cons : Unstable, it loose the signal too often. Maybe a larger buffer would help. Battery consumption, but the car charger solves this.
Fusion Radio
The Fusion set of apps seems to be a separate application for each genre or topic. I would buy that concept for music with added value, f.e. when an experienced dubstep DJ selects the best dubstep stations offered in the app. It's nothing like this there. So search button is expected, but missing. Therefore uninstall.

A Online Radio
Pros : much more stable than XiiaLive. Favorites/bookmarks button is great. Very effective text search, however it doesn't search in genres without typing a keyword into the textbox. Hm. Smart app name - it appears at the top of the app list in the phone.
Cons : most of the time it fails to reconnect when the signal drops, which is annoying. Also it doesn't write the radio station correctly. 

Pros : Simple UI, music flows on 3-4 clicks. Very very stable. Cca 8s buffer. Search is intuitive and fast.
Cons : 12 MB is a lot. But it allows to install it on SD card. Cca 50% success on reconnect. It doesn't write metadata (artist/track), you have to click for it and it's small. Not very safe for a car.

To be honest I am not very happy with the results. Not one of the app was stable enough in terms of not loosing the signal. I was driving the same roads and the drops were not at the same places, so it has nothing to do with the GSM network itself. Also not one of them could really reliable reconnect.

Winamp provided the most stable music stream and has a great user interface at the start. However the most reliable reconnect came from XiiaLive as well as it shows the most visible useful informations plus a big star/stop button. So these are the two favorites, but not one of them is 100% what I've expected.

I will stick with Winamp for a while, but after dropping it from my Windows desktop (in favor of the great foobar) I have a strange feeling because it's so big and packed with stuff without use for me.

There are more players on the Android Market (whatta stupid name Google Play Market now), so there will come a next round of players in the future. Also I've tried just for fun to use my iPad hooked to the wifi hotspot from the phone. It appeared stable, so let's see.

No comments:

Post a Comment