Why switching allegiance isn't always bad: I'm now using TuneIn Radio Pro

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The moment I purchased my iPhone 4S more than six months ago, my first thought was oddly focused on getting a great radio application for it -- I'm a radio maniac. I spent a few days researching here and there, trying to sift through the App Store, AppleVis and a couple of more relevant websites. At the time I came to the conclusion that ooTunes Radio was the best app of its ilk despite its $4.99 price tag. The app was almost synonymous with the phrase "the most variegated selection of stations" which is enticing in and out of itself. Moreover, it has a developer who responds to all emails and is very much committed to VoiceOver support -- what else did I want? I was happy with ooTunes Radio for a few months; however, once I found and tried TuneIn Radio Pro, (a $0.99 app), it instantly became the major gateway to my iOS radio experience. Now I'm not telling everyone to ditch their radio apps in favor of TuneIn Radio Pro -- I still have ooTunes Radio on my iPhone 4S, but I believe it's very important for us to be able to compare commercial applications to figure out which one does a better job.

Which one really has more channels?

Having used both apps extensively, I don't think ooTunes Radio offers many more stations. It sure has a leg-up on TuneIn Radio Pro when it comes to some TV channels which offer audio streams (CNN and Sky come to mind) -- TuneIn Radio Pro doesn't offer them. That's very much all about it: TuneIn as apparently as rich a radio app as ooTunes is.

Organization carries the day

TuneIn Radio Pro is less cluttered and much more organized than ooTunes Radio. If you search for something in ooTunes Radio, you'll get multiple entries for each channel. That's not bad and everyone appreciates the provision of multiple choices, but such a method of displaying search results on the screen makes navigation very cumbersome. You can't tell which one has a better audio quality and the numbers accompanying each entry aren't always indicative of the oddities of each station. Sometimes entries for each channel get mixed with entries for adjacent channels. TuneIn Radio Pro, on the other hand, tackles this very gracefully. Each search will yield one entry per channel. However, once you open and play it, you can use the Options button for that channel to view and possibly select other entries. TuneIn Radio Pro even selects the best entry for each channel so you need not worry about the possibility of forgoing higher quality. The Options dialog is always worth a look, though.

I don't like stations without program names

What TuneIn Radio Pro does which is an absolute nonentity in ooTunes Radio is providing access to programs and previous episodes of those shows. So in essence it's more of a podcatcher, meaning you can use the Search edit box in the Browse tab of the app to look for programs, find out which stations are carrying them, listen to previous episodes of those programs, and, last but not least, add each of them to your Presets. This way, for instance, I easily listen to my favorite NPR programs "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" and even listen to their previous episodes separated by particular stories and program segments. Honestly that's the feature which ultimately lured me. To be fair, however, ooTunes Radio is the output of a one-man company whereas TuneIn Radio Pro has many developers and is sort of a multi-million Dollar venture. It's available for many platforms other than the iOS and the fine-tuning of its database is better streamlined. Sadly, that describes the difference between the nature of the two.

And what about accessibility?

Both apps are accessible with a couple of minor caveats. ooTunes Radio has a problem with its Search feature -- when searching is complete, one can't instantly move to the results and moving to that area via swiping to the right plays a VoiceOver-related ding. However, re-swiping from the top of the page takes care of that. As others have noticed, V2.7 of TuneIn Radio Pro has a problem affecting the identification of its Search text box with swiping: it's on the screen and should be selected via touch, but doesn't gain focus via swiping left and right. I suggest that those who use it report the bug to the developers. TuneIn Radio Pro gets updated on a regular basis (the last one was made available about 40 days ago), but it's been almost 10 months since the last release of ooTunes Radio hit the App Store.

Final words

If you have purchased ooTunes Radio, don't regret it. On a more abstract topic, I'm glad iOS has reached a point where we have two or more accessible and competing apps to carry out special and routine tasks. However, if you're after the features I mentioned above, take a stab at TuneIn Radio Pro. It's worth mentioning that the developers have made another application, TuneIn Radio, available on the App Store. It's a free app which offers most of the features found in its Pro sibling other than audio recording. If you want to make your first radio app purchase, my recommendation is now TuneIn Radio Pro which is substantially cheaper and loaded with exciting features ready for you to play with.

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Comments

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Monday, August 13, 2012

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by blindgator