Coming from a Palm Zire/Treo background, I am familiar with Pocket Tunes (or Ptunes) - the default media and streaming audio player that came with both my Zire 72 and my Treo 680. So when Pocket Tunes came out with a streaming audio player for the iPhone, I said sure, I will review it.
Just a quick note, Ptunes (as I will refer to it) does not actually play media files on the iPhone - that is the exclusive domain of the iPod aspect of the iPhone (don't touch Steve's dock!). But it does act as a streaming media player. Also, although I briefly used a few of the other streaming media players for the iPhone, I haven't used them exclusively - so I won't be comparing Ptunes to those, but instead looking at Ptunes by itself.
Ptunes starts you off with a genre list of streaming music - Country, Funk, Comedy, Metal, etc. When you choose a genre, you are then presented with a list of stations in that genre to choose from. In the 5 days that I have had this program, the station list has been updated twice, so I think they will update the list fairly frequently. One thing I liked is that they include a featured, aacplus, and hi speed network stations as categories. I do wish they included a few more - like sports talk, for example.
One problem I had was there was no description of the radio stations themselves. For some stations, it was obvious where they were from, but some stations just included the call letters, so you don't know where it is broadcasting or in some cases, the content of the radio station. As I said, I wish they broke down the "other" or the "talk" categories more - maybe sports, news, politics, etc. Simply listing radio stations under talk doesn't really tell you what kind of talk radio there is.
On the bottom of the screen, there is a tab for favorites - you can add favorites to this list, including stations that may not be listed. You can also use the "search" tab to search for radio stations. Unfortunately, the few general searches I tried (sports) did not reveal any result, but search for call letters or station names directly can yield hit or miss results.
You can also use the web tab to go to web stations directly. This is useful to go to a specific website for a station and add it directly to your favorite list. Also, the Ptunes website lists some search sites that are good places to start looking through the stations. The web browser can also be used for "normal" surfing while listening to the radio.
Lastly, the now playing screen shows you the current station that is playing. On that screen you can add the current station to your favorites, you can pause, fast forward, or rewind. It also tells you the current song/artist that is playing. You can use the iTunes button to search iTunes for the current artist/music. That is nice, because you can go directly to iTunes to purchase music or albums if you like.
This is a nice interface for streaming music. According to the website, Pocket Tunes will recognize a large variety of streaming audio formats, including MP3, AAC, WMA, and more. The sound quality was nice - I didn't have any stuttering and hiss, nor was there any interuption of the station while I was listening. Of course much of this will depend on the radio station and the quality of their stream. I tried using a 3G connection, and the quality of the stream still was quite good, but using edge I had connection difficulties (mostly connection time itself and time to buffer the station).
- Easy to use and add stations,
- remembers radio stations,
- easy to create a favorites list
- Can not skin the player,
- a little expensive,
- some radio station descriptions could have more information
All in all, this is a nicely designed program, and the quality shows. Unfortunately, at $9.99, it is priced significantly more than other streaming audio programs (many of which are free). The interface, program quality, and sound quality may justify some of the cost, but I am not sure how many people will purchase the $10 app when there may be a similar option that is free (even if the sound quality is somewhat worse). Because of the high price point compared to other apps, I would rate this app as four out of five stars, but if you are willing to pay for the quality, it might be worth it to you (and the few other issues were minor).
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[Pocket Tunes Radio is available from the iTunes App Store.]