Chances are by now, you’ve probably heard of the iHeartRadio music app. From being constantly beaten into your head while listening to our favorite radio station, to the endless promos for the iHeartRadio music festival that just wrapped up in Vegas, you’ve no doubt at least heard the name. In my opinion, this app alone is worth the ‘price of admission’ into the smart phone world.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was ecstatic with the idea and realization that I could listen to the “radio” on my PC at home and work. The idea of listening to the same station that I listened to as a kid, which was 800 miles away, just blew my mind. It took me back to those early years – listening to the same DJ’s, the same morning show, afternoon drive, etc. I took myself back to those days while at work or working around the house streaming my hometown rock station. Fast-forward many years to today.
With that same amount of enthusiasm, I was in awe when I found out a simple application on a small handheld device could provide essentially the same experience as way back when. While the app itself is a few years old, in my opinion it’s still one of the best and most used apps on my Android devices. I love this app for much of the same reasons a younger me streamed the radio stations on my PC. I use it at home. I use it at work. I use it in my car. There aren’t too many apps that you can actually say that about. Yes, you look at a few apps in all of those places, but with iHeartRadio, you actually use it.
The interface itself is a very simple, user-friendly experience. Like some other apps that I’ve come across, you begin by signing up with an email account or your Facebook account. Or you can simply opt out of that initial screen and begin right away. Once signed in or opting out of registering, you’re faced with the iHeartRadio home screen. In a pretty cool handwritten style font, it walks you though setting up the app for the first time. You can begin right away by manually searching for radio stations or you can create your own station. I opted to search radio stations first.
Searching for radio stations is very straight-forward. You’re initially given canned options such as searching locally, for specific cities, or by genre (News/Talk, Sports, Rock, Metal, etc). Once you find a station you think you might like, you simply select the station. It’ll begin buffering, and play will begin shortly thereafter. It’ll also conveniently display the cover-art of the song/album. Once you’re listening to the selected station, you’re given even more options. By selecting a little “+” sign, you’re given the option to create a custom station based on the style of music and artist that is currently playing. So if you’re rocking Metallica, it’ll create a custom station tailored towards the song that’s playing and bands like them – again based on the song that’s playing, not necessarily the band itself. Again, pretty sweet given the fact that you can essentially have that perfect “me” station. Other options on this same screen are things such as Save Station so you can quickly access it later, View Artist Bio, View Lyrics, and an option to Buy from Amazon MP3. However, in order to create custom stations and save stations, you’ll have to log into either your email account or Facebook. (Remember, I opted out at the beginning). Another nice feature you’re given while on the screen listening to a song is an option to Scan. This options works just like the Scan button on your car stereo except it doesn’t scan local, strong stations. It scans similar stations across the nation. One press of the button and you’re listening to a similar station in New York. The next press of the button it may take you to Seattle, all while happening almost instantaneously – even on 3G connections.
Additionally by hitting the Menu button on your phone, you can access the app’s Settings. From here you can sign up giving you access to all of the options previously mentioned. You’re also given options to reset your location, play last station on app start-up (love this), and you also have the option to turn off explicit content. Additionally, there’s an option to use the app with Ford Sync for those that have that option on their Ford vehicle. Once you’re accustomed to the app, you’ll soon have it set up the way you want it with custom stations and all. Accessing those custom stations is easy as it’s just a simple click from the app’s main homepage.
As mentioned, this is probably my favorite app on my device. I just love the idea of accessing my hometown’s radio station from work, home, and in the car. It also works wonders for those long road trips where you can’t seem to find anything on the radio except static. It’s also nice to “tune in” to other stations around the country and be exposed to the cutting edge of new music in various markets. The app has recently added ads for featured stations across the nation for immediate access to those music markets. The app isn’t perfect however. Some stations cannot be found when specifically using the search function. I’m assuming this is because they have to be iHeartRadio affiliates while other stations may be affiliated elsewhere, but you’ll definitely find something of your liking. It’s a great alternative to your local radio. Best of all – it’s free.