Well, believe it or not, I’ve made it back for a second post in three days. With the recent oversaturation of so called “Microsoft News” (I’m not a fan of Microsoft mobile news starting with Windows Mobile 7), I thought we could definitely use some updates from the Google Mobile front. Today we’re going to be looking at my experience with radio on Android after the break.
For those of you just tuning in, I’m Albert Bun, one of the newer writers here, but I haven’t posted in a while. Infact, it’s been such a long time since I posted, that someone in the comments forgot all about me (don’t worry, I would’ve forgot too). Back in 2011, I mostly wrote about Windows Mobile 6, but after that fizzled out, I kinda “forgot”. But then I saw that MobilityDigest needed some more good writings, so now I’m documenting my thoughts on mobiles as they come to me from the perspective of a student on a tight budget. I thought I’d start with a problem that I’ve noticed has plagued the mobile community ever since the departure of the beloved Windows Mobile 6, and that is radio.
For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of owning one, the original Samsung Epic is a great piece of hardware and a welcome upgrade from the HTC Diamond. It really made me from a skeptic to a believer in SuperAMOLED screens and hardware QWERTY keyboards, but it does lack the all important FM Radio (at very least, the software to make it happen). Back when I got the device, I figured this wouldn’t be a big deal because I could probably just use the internet radio, but I was quite wrong. It turns out that it’s not as straightforward as it was on Windows Mobile 6, where all you had to do was click the playlist file and open it with TCPMP (For those of you new to the world of smartphones in general, TCPMP was an amazing mediaplayer for Windows Mobile 6 (and earlier) that could play just about anything you threw at it from videos to music playlists to internet radio). TCPMP is not available on Android, nor are any even remotely similar programs, which means that all those .PLS, .ASX, .M3U, or other stream file formats aren’t very useful. This creates a huge problem for people who want to just listen to the radio on a device without the FMRadio feature or for stations that don’t broadcast on FM near the device.
Luckily, two potential solutions have finally started to rise here only within the last couple months. The first is VLC Mobile. VLC is a great mediaplayer software for the desktop which plays a wide variety of formats very well, similar to MediaPlayer Classic for the desktop or even TCPMP back on WM6. Not long ago, adridu59 from XDA DEVELOPERS started pumping out unofficial releases of a VLC for Android. I haven’t had a chance to test the newer ones, but as of last month, it was able to play streaming radio, but with some strings attached. First off, you first have to open the file with a text editor, copy the URL, then paste it into VLC just to play it in the first place. It also currently has a bug which requires you to restart the player inbetween streams. From what I’ve used of it, it works, but it’s not a really polished solution. Then again, it is only an early prerelease and time will tell if it pans out or not.
There is a second solution to the “quest” though, and that is TuneIn Radio. TuneIn doesn’t play streaming files, and it can’t actually play files of any kind from your device, but it does have an amazing library of local online radio playlists that truly impressed even me for being a “boxed player”. It chooses the correct stream from its list and then begins playing the file. If it isn’t available or doesn’t work, TuneIn will automatically choose an alternative station of a similar genre. Even though it can’t play the playlist files, its selection alone makes it worth looking into.
Anyway, if you have a comment or suggestion, please feel free to leave some feedback and let me know what you thought. Remember, my writings may seem “cruel and unusual” to the loyal Microsoft fans, but no that no hatred is intended toward that audience, there’s just a “sore” deep displeasure toward Microsoft, so don’t take any of it personally ☺.