This app is for one of the last gasp of terrestrial radio to try to keep listeners. It is available as an app on Windows 8 but keep in mind I have only tried them once on a webpage and left unimpressed. Plus this is a review of the Preview, so things should improve by the time a final version is released.
Here is what you get when you first run it, although if you haven’t previously played anything, it won’t have the “On Air” or “Recently Played” sections of course. It provides categories for “Live Stations Near You” (which needs you to have location turned on), “Featured Custom Stations”, “iHeart Originals”, “Music & Entertainment”, “Talk” and “Stations by Location”.
The “Featured Custom Stations” are already setup around a specific artist, so you get not only that artist’s music but songs in a similar view. “iHeart Originals” are a few categories of music as in 80’s music, though didn’t see Alternative really, which is what I prefer. “Music & Entertainment” and “Talk” are the only two ways it separates the stations. I really think it could do with more choices here separated into musical style. Plus when you click on either section, you get the same view. Talk only shows 3 stations (although it says there are 262 of them) and the Music section only shows 20 stations (out of a total 984 it says are available). Clearly not that useful.
Oh sure you can search for stations or find many more listed if you choose the “Stations by Location” route. Not so fast there bucko, you cannot Search with this app. As an added detraction even though in the settings it says it is linked with Facebook, you cannot share. You can’t share to Facebook or anything else.
The app when playing music works similar to Pandora (which isn’t on Windows 8 yet) and SlackerRadio (which is on Windows 8). You can easily keep the music playing in the background or snapped to one side. The snapped view gives you full view and use of the app. iHeartRadio also gives you the option to tailor the music to your tastes with like/unlike buttons. You can create custom lists and pin the station to Start.
Above is a look at the “Featured Custom Stations” section with the song controls and info showing. It is a nice enough view, but has something interesting about it. It shows ALL the stations it says are available (158) not just some as in other view. Also they are nicely divided into sections, but they should either be grouped alphabetically (with semantic view to aid discovery) or grouped so that similar types are nearby. Usually someone who likes Rock isn’t into the vocal styling’s of Bing Crosby (true some might). One of the dislikes with Metro is that it allows groupings like this to use an even number of images (10 above) and that creates a lonely one-off to the right side. I realize this probably changes due to screen size, but can’t they have some algorithm to make it more symmetric? In this section there are also some sections that have 9 and some that have 10 showing (I guess limits on what they created).
Minor gripes perhaps but gripes never-the-less. The main gripe needs fixing though. A limited listing that is difficult to discover new and different stations. Going along with that is the Search, much more than Sharing. You can’t Search so that limits discoverability. This app also does not utilize either notifications or a live tile – this needs added. I found scrolling touch and go.
This is a decent app but since it’s focus is really on providing access to Featured Custom Stations it may not fit everyone’s needs. I thought this app was supposed to be an easy way to listen to your favorite terrestrial radio stations, just with the added benefit of being able to customize things. The terrestrial radio bit though is not as useful or as easy to use as it could be.
I do give this app a bye though since it is a preview. I will not provide a rating for it in its current state. If you like music through the internet, this is a good way to do it – at least to tie you over until (as I’m sure it will be coming) Pandora is on Windows 8. Meanwhile keep an eye on this app, any updates might improve any deficiencies.
No harm in trying it that’s for sure, it won’t fail to please with the music it can play.