I posted previously about how to listen to radio station streams on an Android phone. In the time between then and now, somebody has come up with a much better way to do it. TuneIn Radio is both a website for streaming and a mobile application for Android and iPhone users alike.
I have found that every local radio station that has a web stream is listed. The major overseas broadcasters like the BBC, CBC, Radio Netherlands, and so on as well as all of the non-government US owned shortwave stations are listed. As their website states:
With over 30,000 FM and AM radio stations from across the globe, TuneIn Radio makes radio local, no matter how far from home you might be.
Far easier than what I posted before. Further, this is exactly the type of service that terrestrial broadcasters needed the most; a concise consolidated listing broken down by genre and locality, to compete with Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, et. al.
In order to download TuneIn Radio, point your mobile web browser to http://tunein.com and it will automatically direct you to the proper download source. Or one could search through the Apple store or Android Market to find the app.
I have been using my Android phone for about 7 months now. During that period of time, I have found many useful applications and some not so useful ones. This is a great time saver for technical people. This list is by no means complete, I did not include any manufacturing or supplier applications like Digikey. These are tools for the most part. They are the applications that I have found that have made my life easier. I focused on the free applications rather than endorse any paid applications.
This is a list of apps that I found most useful for radio engineering:
- VNC Android. Great remote computer control application that will work with almost any version of VNC server. For logging into servers and workstations to fix things remotely, great time/sleep/gas saver.
- ElectroDroid. App has many electrical engineering calculators; Reactance, voltage divider, resistor ratio, resistor series-parallel, capacitor charge, ohm’s law, resistor of LED, LM317, voltage drop, and battery life. Also includes resistor color codes, SMD resistor color codes, inductor color codes, various pin outs, wire ampacity tables.
- Metrics Converter. A general units converter for metric to standard measurements.
- WiFi Analyzer. Cool application that has a WiFi spectrum analyzer, shows all WiFi channels, signal strengths and router name. Can show an * for open networks.
- Kreac Calculator. A full featured scentific calculator, includes all trig functions, roots, pi, log, e, ln, 1/x, etc. Very handy for some quick figuring on the fly.
- RecForge audio recorder. Can record .wav, .mp3 or .ogg in 8,11,22 or 44 KHz mono or stereo. The audio can be stored in different folders and emailed. Great for quick recordings that can be emailed back to the news room or studio. Sound quality is as good as the microphone on the device. My HTC mic sounds pretty good.
- Google maps. Great for finding things, satellite views, etc. Use Itouchmap via web browser to find coordinates of a location by taping a map.
- Flashlight. Self explanatory, three levels, good for emergency use, but I’d not use it regularly as a work light, it runs the battery down too quickly.
- Audalyzer. Small audio analyzer that works pretty well. If something more is needed, professional versions are available for around $5.00.
- Radar now. Uses GPS location to generate moving weather radar picture. This has come in handy when doing tower work during thunderstorm season. Good for pulling tower crews or reassuring tower crews as needed.
Those are the free apps, there are many, many more available from the app store. As far as iPhone apps go, I just don’t know because I have never owned one.
The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), in trying to reach a settlement with the music industry, has decided that cellphones are part of the problem. No kidding, the fact that smart phones like the iPhone and Android do not have FM tuners seems to be a part of the negotiations, even though the cellphone industry has nothing to do with music royalties. The argument is, more people will listen to, and more importantly, buy music if they have an FM tuner in their smartphone.
I don’t know about that.
My HTC Android phone does have an FM tuner, it also has a metal detector. I have found both the be novel applications. Even though I work in radio, I have used the FM tuner twice. Technically speaking, I find it to be adequate. In order to receive anything, a pair of headphones or earbuds has to be used, because the headphone wire acts as the antenna.
That being said, I cannot count the number of times I have used Pandora or other online audio applications. Several times a day at least. Why? Because the content it better.
If consumers want FM tuners in their cellphones, they will ask for them. Cellphone manufacture’s will gladly comply, and make them. The real problem is, most people don’t care about radio because most radio programming is boring and uninspired these days. Let me paraphrase that:
HELLO, BROADCASTERS! ARE YOU LISTENING? YOUR PROGRAMMING SUCKS!
Offer a better product and listeners will return. If there were a compelling reason to build FM tuners into cellphones, it would already be done. Forcing the cellphone manufactures to do something they don’t want to do will simply drive up prices.
The NAB has led the radio industry astray for years now, we really should stop listening to them.
I was fooling around with my HTC Android phone yesterday and discovered something that has a definite use for radio remotes. An Application called Hertz will record .wav files, which can then be transfered via e-mail or ftp to the studio and played back on the air. The program is pretty slick, it allows sample rates from 8 to 44.1 khz.
I made a sample recording, the microphone in the HTC phone is okay, a better microphone would sound better. After it was done, I emailed it to myself and listened on the laptop. The email took about 4 minutes for a 20 seconds of a 32 kHz .wav file. One could cut that down by choosing a lower sample rate. I have found that 32 kHz it the minimal acceptable sample rate for analog FM. Anything lower than that sounds choppy.
In another potential use, a news reporter could use this to record audio to save and transfer to a computer using a USB cable. The recording time limit depends on the size of the SIM card and the sample rate. Additionally, my HTC Android phone will detect and use WiFi networks, where available, for data services. Using a WiFi network will avoid those 3G data charges and also increase download/upload speeds.
My Verizon plan has unlimited data transfer, so it really doesn’t matter what sample rate I use, your mileage may vary.
Couple the Hertz app with the VNC app mentioned previously, and a person could do all sorts of things remotely with a radio station. The Hertz app is available for free download from the Android app store.