radio

One "killer app" missing for many on Windows Phone, despite some solid alternatives, is Pandora internet radio. We still see no reason that Pandora won't release an official app now that Mango is around the corner and supports background play--so we won't be surprised if something shows up soon.

However, in the meantime for you die-hard folks out there who are already on Mango (estimate via "I'm a WP7" is nearly 20% of Windows Phone users): you can now browse to Pandora.com via IE9 and stream that way. See, the whole website was redesigned and relaunched today and HTML5 is their new standard. Our browser supports HTML5 and background audio play, so match made in heaven. New Pandora site includes:

  • New Look and Feel: A new centralized content area accentuates each ad execution by increasing the space and immersing the user via an integrated skin for campaigns. Additionally, the modern page design scales to provide more creative possibilities for advertisers with additional ad formats.
  • Additional Screen Real Estate: Ads are seamlessly integrated across the entire site while listeners explore music and artist content and engage in robust social experiences, such as interacting with self and friend profiles and feeds.
  • Simplified Cross Platform Execution: Smooth platform parity between web and mobile, making it easier to execute cross-platform audio and visual ad campaigns.
  • Bigger Videos: Video ads have been upgraded to a larger, full-screen video overlay, prominently showcasing advertisers' videos.
  • Enhanced Social Features: New opportunities for advertisers to connect with listeners as they share and engage with others in the Pandora community and their social networks.

As we said, match made in heaven, right? Well, not quite. While it certainly does work, it's still a bit slow--you'll have that "delay" between pressing a button and the response, which can last a few seconds (leaving you unsure if the button press even registered). We also had some issues with our volume being very low (had to jack it up to 30 and even then was barely audible). Still, that could be hiccups on our end, our device, the network or just some early kinks--others seem to be having more success. The important note here is, technically speaking, you can stream Pandora via IE9 as advertised.

Source: PRNewsWire; Thanks, @burnethanol, Lerimer S. and Damian M., for the heads up!

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BBC Radio Player app chimes onto the Marketplace

Good news UK users (and for anyone else who can gain access)! Igneous Software has released a BBC Radio app that features 6 Music, 5 Live, Radio 1 Extra, Asian Network, World Service, BBC Ulster, BBC Wales and BBC Scotland as well as the main stations. Highlighted features include: 

  • Choose from all BBC Radio stations
  • Now and next programme guide
  • Full integration with music + video hub
  • Playback continues under lock screen
  • Ability to block GSM-based streaming
  • Buffering confirmed with audible “pips”
  • Comprehensive programme caching
  • Dynamic server management

BBC Radio Player is a well polished app and the streaming over both WiFi and 3G is smooth and reliable. You can download the app from the Marketplace for £0.99 ($1.29) - four standalone apps are available for BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 but these stations are included in BB Radio Player itself.

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Custom ESPN Radio coming to Slacker

Slacker Radio is one of our favorite streaming radio apps for both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile. Sports fans can now get their fix as Slacker have partnered with ESPN to bring ESPN Radio content to your phone. We’re assuming this is going to function in a similar way to ABC news on Slacker, where basically you get individual clips that rotate through in the same way you would go through individual songs.

The really cool part of this partnership is limited to paying subscribers. If you’re paying for a Slacker account, your ESPN radio station can be fully customized to fine tune the coverage you are interested in.

Get Slacker from the Marketplace here. The full press release is after the break.

Via: Android Central

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Hands on with Sprint Radio for Windows Phone 7

The Sprint Arrive (see review) barely has any Sprint software on it. One of the apps though (not pre-loaded, either) is Sprint Radio.

Two versions exist within the app: free, with 60 stations and some commercials and "extra" which costs $5.95 a month. The latter is for all intents and purposes, Pandora Radio (but it's actually mSpot). It allows you to create radio stations based on your bands/likes, skip tracks, dislike songs, etc. It also has news, sports radio, weather and some other premium content.

For once, we can actually say we're mpressed with the service and if you don't have a Zune Pass, it is worth considering.

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For those Windows Mobile users, Resco was a standard name for software on that platform, delivering us the much needed Explorer, Radio, Audio Recorder, Contact Manger, etc.

So it's great to see them return to our new OS with an updated and very solid Resco Radio v1.0. Fetching for a modest $1.99 (and no monthly subscriptions). Radio brings straight up internet radio streaming to your phone, with some advanced features like sleep, add station, location search and of course the ability to play under the lock screen (no background though).

We decided to give it a spin and as you can see in the video, we're impressed. We highly recommend for music and talk radio addicts to take it for a trial run. Grab it here in the Marketplace for $1.99.

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Windows Phone 7 custom ROM development got a big boost today with the advancement in two areas:

  • Custom ROM Image Editor (by AnDim)
  • Mixing of HTC ROM images & different radios (by ansar.ath.gr)

The former is what you see above and is basically a simple GUI for manipulation of ROM images, making custom ROM development that much easier. Basically it allows for the "...extraction, replacement, addition, removal" of ROM files. This is still in testing and therefore limited (only read and extract functions) but it's a big step in the process.

The other news comes by way of XDA member ansar.ath.gr. A few days ago, he garnered some attention by successfully swapping ROM images from one HTC WP7 device to another. Today, he has gone further by manipulating radio images as well. He notes:

This is a custom ROM not signed with the new and yet not completely hacked MS WP7 signer. If this is true for all operators and spl's then the game just started.

...Now there is a way to flash only the radio from other operators

Once again, for practical matters, this means little for even those who are itching to flash a new ROM. What it does mean is that progress is being made to allow custom flashing of different regional ROMs, radios and mixing and matching. Although significant, we have to wonder just how much improvement will come down the pike from such maniuplation. Still, it's fun to watch as we know these guys will keep at it, no matter what obstacles they face.

Source: XDA 1, XDA 2

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First Look: iHeartRadio [video]

So one of the "big" apps released today was iHeartRadio, which basically allows you to stream via internet radio stations from around the U.S. Perfect for you folks who travel and need your talk radio fix, or like to have some background radio while you work.

The app is free, though there is a premium area for some high-profile talk radio. Overall it feels pretty solid. The graphics have some banding, which could be easily fixed with a different background and the selection is decent, but not as great as internet radio. Well worth the download though if radio is your thing.

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Review: Slacker Radio

Who says nobody develops for Windows Mobile anymore? Leaked in February only to be yanked, and then announced at CTIA in parallel with the launch of the HD2 on T-Mobile; Slacker Radio brings one of the more robust streaming radio empires to the Windows Phone platform. Slacker Radio is a service designed to bring you a variety of content for little or no cost. In a world where 3G networks and high-powered mobile devices are becoming commonplace; Slacker and similar services have a solid foundation on which to expand their empire.

To get a look at what you can find in Slacker Radio for Windows Mobile, keep reading.

Pros: 
High Quality streaming audio. Wide variety of content. clean interface.
Cons: 
Free version has ad content. Designed only for WVGA screens with Portrait Orientation.
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For those fed up with the glacial movement of Pandora on the Windows phone platform, a new alternative has hit the streets: Slacker Radio.

Showing up on various forums, the .cab and service is actually very, very polished. It is the official version, but SlackerRadio themselves have not published it on their site yet.

No compromises here as you get album images, lyrics, band bio, reviews and a wide selection of music to choose from.  Audio quality is also extremely good, trouncing Pandora's 64kb stream. Plus they got that whole "let me power off the screen without disrupting the stream" thing. 

Two negative's we've noticed: landscape support is not there and we've had a few songs cut out towards the end for some reason (not uncommon with Pandora either). 

Of course, there is the free "basic" version which limits you to something like 6-skips per hour while the program steers you towards the "full" version with upgrade notices in parts.  Likewise, you don't get all those lyric bonuses in the free version.

If you want the subscription, it's $4.99 per month (on a month-to-month basis) or $3.99 a month on a 12-month plan (billed monthly). You can also try out the subscription for 7 days for free.  We suppose if streaming is your thing it's not a bad deal: the quality of the product is quite top notch. If you just like streaming your own music (as opposed to the jukebox, random streaming), give nanoGroove a shot.

Grab the file at XDA or scan the MS Tag below to automatically download it.

Edit: Whoops!  And just as fast Slacker Radio has remotely pulled the plug. The app currently doesn't work and we have to wait for the fine folks at Slacker Radio to drop this app "officially".  Sigh. [Here's their official reasoning]

   

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Well, it's not a mighty re-flash of the whole ROM, nor does it bring any new features to the table and in fact, it actually looks kind of dangerous to apply (see below), but Samsung has released a radio firmware update to help with dropped calls on the Verizon Omnia II (see hands on video).

Yeah, not exactly thrilling, though we suppose if you have been experiencing poor call performance, you may want to look into this lil' patch.

Now the caveat: its a finicky update, meaning it official doesn't work on Windows 7, only XP. Going further, a few users have reported problems with "bricking" their phone during the update.  We don't want to be alarmist, but make sure you follow the directions exactly as described.  Oh, and if you run the update in compatibility mode in Win7, evidently that can work too.

Get the patch right here...if you dare!

[via CareAce.net]

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It's been quite some time since Resco has updated their Radio program (see earlier review), so it's no surprise to see them set their sights on giving it an overhaul.

So far, not too much has changed as can be seen below.  There is still a limited selection of stations (you can manually import Shoutcast) and no way to search for new stations, in that regard, Kinoma Play is still easier with full Shoutcast integration.  List of changes so far:

  • Touch optimized list of radios (All Stations)
  • Letter bar for easier navigation in Categories
  • Icon for stream quality visualization

Still, if you just want a streaming radio app, Resco Radio is a beaut with its simplicity and speed (plus you can record streams, natch).  It's running smooth on the my Touch Pro 2, so go and give it a shot and give the Resco team some feedback!

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Review: Resco Pocket Radio

Internet Radio is one of the things that I like most about the Internet. Having moved around a lot, it’s nice to be able to continue listening to the radio stations that I’ve become accustomed to. Finding an Internet Radio application for Windows Mobile that is worth the cost isn’t the easiest task. SPB Software came out with their Internet Radio App (SPB Radio) late last month to good reviews.

Resco, makers of Resco Explorer and Resco Contact Manager also released an update to their Internet Radio app last month. Resco Pocket Radio offers some similar functionality to SPB Radio, but also offers some variations on the feature set. The complete rundown is after the break.
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Motorola Q9h gets a ROM update

There's an update available for the Motorola Q9h on AT&T. But before you get all hot and bothered, here's what we know:

  • No, it's not Windows Mobile 6.5.
  • No, it doesn't appear to enable some secret WiFi capability.
  • No, Windows Marketplace for Mobile is nowhere to be found.

Maybe it finally opens the Q9h to those over-the-air updates we learned about nearly a year ago. (We're not holding our breath, though.)

About the only thing we can tell is that the radio (as in the thing that connects it to cell towers) appears to have been updated. If you go to Settings>About, our radio version has gone from MODEM4_U_40.11.40R_04 to MODEM4_U_40.11.40R_07.

Also, under Settings>Phone information>APFlex, we've gone from NONORMANATTCORE00040 to NONORMANATTCORE00043. And in the same location, AP has gone from 01.09.28R to 01.09.28DR.

So, if you're not having any problems making calls and getting data, you might what to leave well enough alone. This is a ROM update, after all, and that means you'll be wiping your phone clean. (Is it weird that we did so without thinking twice, at 10 p.m. on a Friday night? Nahhhhh.)

If you're the type who lives on the bleeding edge, hit up the Motorola update tool (get it here if you don't currently have it), and flash away. And if anyone knows anything else that's changed, hit us up in the comments.

Via Everything WM. And thanks, Mike, for the e-mail tip!

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Here's a grilling an interview with a couple of HTC Europe execs from Polish smartphone site PDA.pl. [via] It can be a little painful to watch, for both sides, but the questions asked are reasonable:

  • Where's the 3.5mm headphone jack?
  • There's hardware for an FM radio, but why no software?
  • Why aren't "older" phones getting the latest version of TouchFLO 3D?

We can live without an FM radio. This is 2009, after all. And getting custom ROMS with different software is no sweat on HTC phones. But we'll jump on board the 3.5mm headphone jack beat-down. Like it or not, that needs to be standard.

Update: Yep, looks like there are issues with the video. So, here are the answers -- highly paraphrased, of course. And, really, any answer works for any of the questions. Here goes:

  1. Want a headphone jack? Use the crazy little adapter HTC provides. Or get a Touch HD.
  2. Um, we'll look into it.
  3. HTC has many great new phones.
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WunderRadio for Windows Mobile

 

We’ve seen a number of the Windows Mobile apps that we know and love make their way to the dark side, but the flip side of that trend seems to be kicking in.

One of the iPhone app store’s finest, WunderRadio, is making its way to a Windows Mobile device near you. WunderRadio has gotten rave reviews from various locations in the Blogosphere as an Internet Radio application. Having partnered with RadioTime.com, WunderRadio offers mobile access to over 36,000 radio stations.

WunderRadio will reportedly be available for 30 day promotional prices of $9.99, after which it will set you back $14.99. Notable features include GPS functionality to find local radio stations and the ability to listen to popular programs after they have aired.

Via jkOnTheRun

 

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It's been long speculated that devices such as the Sprint Diamond and Touch Pro have build in FM radios that are disabled. The question is are they disabled at the hardware level (bad) or software level (good)?

Well the news is at least for Sprint Touch Diamond users it is at the software level and you can now enable that ancient technology and get FM jamming through your touchy device.

Thanks to No2Chem, famous for his custom ROMs on various HTC devices, you can go ahead and grab his latest project right here.

Bad news? Don't expect any such FM goodness on the Sprint Touch Pro (see gallery):

HOWEVER, the Touch PRO is a different
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The Consumerist has a couple of bits about the likely end of Internet Radio:

the due date for online radio stations to pay higher royalties for streamed music has been pushed back from May 15 to July 15 by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Read: Internet Radio: Web Broadcasters' Date To Pay Royalties Pushed Back - Idolator

That's good news, as it gives the bill that could save Internet Radio a little more time. I've been told that my doomsaying about Internet Radio is a little premature ("It's been doomed before"), let's hope I was just panicking for no good reason.

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