While there are plenty of streaming services these days that allow you to listen to practically any song you want, anytime, some may long for the days of old-fashioned radio. If you prefer to tune in and check out with a playlist that is out of your control, or listen to a talk radio show a la This American Life, there are plenty of apps out there to help. Here are our favorite radio apps for Android and iPhone.
If you like variety, TuneIn Radio is one of the best apps around for listening to the radio on your mobile device. The app offers a vast library of programs, including local radio shows, sports stations, podcasts, and more. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, and the sound quality is good. TuneIn’s most notable flaws are that it can take an annoying amount of time to buffer when you select a program, and the app does sport some ads. If you can get past those inconveniences, the experience is worth it.
If you want a constant stream of great news programs and informative podcasts, NPR One is the holy grail of radio apps. National Public Radio (NPR) purveyor of award-winning journalism, has created an app that make its content accessible wherever, whenever. Users can listen to their preferred local National Public Radio station, or listen to any of the network’s nationally syndicated shows. In addition to a strong library of NPR programs (All Things Considered, Planet Money, and so on), NPR One also showcases podcasts from companies like Gimlet.
This popular radio app serves its users a banquet of live radio streams. You can listen to rock, rap, jazz, comedy, sports, or other types of programming, sampling shows from across the country, as well as streams tailored to your interests. The app displays information about the current song and artist, and you can approve of songs you like or disapprove of songs you don’t. For a monthly subscription, you can gain access to additional features, such as the ability to skip tracks or even save them.
Satellite radio company SiriusXM makes its content available on mobile devices through the SiriusXM app. If you already have a SiriusXM subscription for your car, you get streaming included. Otherwise, you can select a subscription plan that appeals to you, such as Mostly Music or All Access. SiriusXM offers over 200 channels, offering music, news, and even talk radio (such as The Howard Stern Show). The app itself sports a clean interface, and a variety of useful features.
Pandora launched back in 2000 — when the internet was still a vast and wild wasteland — with a simple goal: Help users find new music they like using bands and songs they already listen to. More than a decade later, services like Spotify incorporated music discovery features into their own streaming empires, but Pandora remains a popular service, and for good reason. Users create a playlist by inputting an artist or song they enjoy. Pandora then finds songs with similar musical stylings, and users can upvote songs they like or downvote songs they don’t. The app has a clean design, and is easy to navigate. While it is free, users will have to put up with the occasional ad.