Groupon offers Wi-Fi and AirPlay-enabled Pioneer stereo at half-price

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 11:10am
Pioneer stereo

Heading into the frantic end of the year's big shopping season, we thought we'd pass along what looks like a pretty good deal, from radio's best friend Groupon!

For two days, via Groupon, two-hundred bucks (plus $12.95 shipping) will get you the cool Pioneer X-SMC3-S Music Tap AirPlay Music System, which normally runs $399.

It's a home stereo system (the speakers and amp are built-in) that uses Apple AirPlay to wirelessly stream music stored on your iPhone, iPad, and desktop computers, as well as connect to Internet radio. You can even control the Pioneer from your iDevice without docking it, and stream your playlists over Wi-Fi. It also has a 2.5-inch color LCD display for CD cover art and "now playing" song info. The system works with Android phones too (though it only docks Apple devices), or anything "DLNA 1.5-certified," says CNet's Rick Broida.

Get the deal from Groupon here; read more in CNet here.


SiriusXM brings its new Internet radio-like features to Apple mobile devices

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 1:10pm

SiriusXM's new iOS appsSiriusXM has updated its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps with interactive capabilities from the satellite radio broadcaster's recently launched 2.0 service.

The new features include the ability for users to jump back to the beginning of a show or song, even if they started tuning in half-way through. The apps also now enable pausing, fast-forwarding through previously aired programming and rewinding.

SiriusXM's mobile apps stream programming via the Internet, rather than through the company's satellites. "This is a big move, as Internet streaming capabilities are becoming an ever growing segment of the audio entertainment sector," writes SiriusBuzz (here).

SiriusBuzz reports that SiriusXM will update its Android app with these features within the next six months.

SiriusXM unveiled its new 2.0 service, along with a new $140 radio receiver, in October (RAIN coverage here).

Developer mounts Nook e-book reader to dashboard for entertainment and diagnostics

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 11:15am

Nook in Jeep dashboardWe've seen people attach an iPad to their car's dashboard for an easy-to-access mobile web interface, but a Nook (the Barnes & Noble e-book reader -- their counterpart to Amazon's Kindle)? 

Lifehacker reports that XDA Developers forum member "craigbru" has done it, and has a how-to guide for installing and mounting a Nook Color in the car, for both entertainment and to monitor the engine (and hopefully not for reading!). For the diagnostics, he's using a device called a Bluetooth OBD-II reader and an Android app called Torque. And, you can see he's loaded up Slacker for music (the Nook is an Android-based tablet platform).

Read more in Lifehacker, and the XDA Developers forum.

Some find Amazon's Kindle Fire makes a great dedicated Internet-radio device

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 1:05pm

Last week Amazon made big news when the latest version of its Kindle e-book reader, the Kindle Fire, shipped. Actually, all the new functionality of the Kindle Fire makes it more like a tablet computer than a mere e-reader. And apparently, it's a really good Internet radio device.Kindle Fire

"The Kindle Fire is almost perfect for my favorite kind of media: Internet radio," wrote industry observer Matthew Lasar in Radio Survivor. "Its relatively small size, nice WiFi interface, attractive display, and simple speaker outlet make it a great dedicated broadband radio device."

The device is built on a "forked" version of the Android mobile OS, and as such, can run various Android apps (available in the Amazon Appstore). It can stream video, and offers a full-function web browser and built-in e-mail application. 

Taking advantage of the Kindle Fire's smaller size and lower price-point, it's more logical to use it for a dedicated, specialized purpose like Internet radio than, say, and Apple iPad, reasons Lasar. Internet radio Android apps also apparently work well, and look good, on the device.

"Pandora looks much classier on the device than it does on either my Droid X or my desktop screen. Leaning the Kindle horizontally against a paper book (oh the irony) just above my keyboard gives me easy access to the standard Pandora choices: like, dislike, skip, pause, and next. There’s plenty of blank space across the screen—no visual crowding, even with the ads... Ditto for TuneIn Radio... (It) looks and sounds great on the Kindle Fire. For me, TuneIn’s desktop interface is too big and its smart phone interface is too small. But on Kindle Fire it looks just right—just like an Internet radio interface ought to display."

Our own AccuRadio, by the way, worked and sounded great when we accessed it through the Kindle Fire's web browser (AccuRadio does not yet offer a dedicated Android app). What works even better is the beta version of our new AccuRadio user interface, available at new.accuradio.com

And, if you're a fan of on-demand streaming service Rdio: You can access it through the Kindle Fire. Or, might want to pick up the new Kobo Vox tablet, as it comes preloaded on that device (read more here).

Lasar, who wrote the Radio Survivor piece, teaches U.S. history and broadcasting/telecommunications policy at the UC Santa Cruz. He's written two books about Pacifica Radio, and also writes for Arstechnica.com. Read his column in Radio Survivor here.

From iTunes to iPad, RAIN highlights how Jobs impacted web radio

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

Steve JobsYesterday Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away. It's difficult to overstate Jobs' impact on the world -- from PCs to film to digital music and beyond. Today RAIN looks back at just some of the ways Jobs impacted Internet radio.

1) iTunes (January 2001)
An "all-in-one digital music program," the now ubiquitous media program included (as it still does) an Internet radio section. It brought hundreds of streams under one roof and exposed them to a mainstream user base. 

2) AirPlay / AirTunes (first released June 2004)
"Listen to music from all over your house from your mobile device," said Steve Jobs when introducing AirPlay -- a wireless music system that lets users stream music from iTunes, iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches to special receivers around the house. AirPlay supports audio from just about any Internet radio app and can stream to any stereo receiver hooked up with an AirPort Express (in addition to Apple TVs and special third-party receivers).

3) iPhone (January 2007) + App Store (July 2008)
"Before the iPhone," writes Billboard, "custom Internet radio, subscription music...among others, had yet to find their legs and their lack of mobility inhibited their ability to grow." But together, the widely-popular iPhone and App Store created a "platform that freed web-based music services from the chains of the computer and let them enter the real world...mobile usage of Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody and Shazam skyrocketed, bringing users a renewed enthusiasm for music."

The mainstream popularity of the iPhone exposed new consumers to customizable Internet radio. "The iPhone placed web and traditional radio head-to-head, in a face off that continues today. Without it, Pandora and Slacker may not have become household names and many listeners would've never felt the pleasure of personalized music recommendations." (Billboard's full article is here).

4) Apple TV (March 2007)
Though of course geared towards video content, Internet radio was also included in Apple TV, exposing hundreds of streams to yet more consumers.

5) iTunes Genius (September 2008)
Since the debut of the iPod, anyone could create what amounted to their own personal radio station by simply clicking "Shuffle." With iTunes Genius, Steve Jobs made iPods and iTunes a smarter DJ. Genius creates Pandora-like playlists of music similar to a specified song. It also analyzes your library and creates personal genre mixes based on what music you own. Pandora on the iPad

6) iPod Nano, 5th gen (September 2009)
The fifth-generation iPod Nano include, among many new features, an FM radio tuner. The sixth generation generation Nano also includes an FM tuner.

7) iPad (January 2010)
Originally heralded as "the oversized iPhone," Apple's much-hyped tablet device provided yet another platform for Internet radio apps...but with a twist. That looming 9.7 inch screen called for more than just album art and metadata, prompting many webcasters to introduce new visual features to their mobile apps.

How else do you think Steve Jobs affected Internet radio? Did we overlook a service or product? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

iOS app purchases up over last year, study finds

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:30pm

Of users who bought content via iTunes, 39% purchased apps for iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads, according to NPD's iTunes User Report 2011. That's up from 31% last year and compares to 75% of users who purchased music from iTunes. Bizmology has more coverage here.

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