Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mobile applications using Reciva database

- Reciva on the go

Update: Radiostar app updated mid-Feb 2011

The Reciva database of thousands of radio stations and On Demand content (Podcasts and "Listen Again") is used within many different radio devices - many of which I have mentioned here before. There is also an application from Grace Digital that is able to control a Reciva-based radio over UPnP, but until very recently there has not been a software-only application that uses the Reciva database.
Reciva announced a framework to support such things long ago - Reciva Connect.

Finally in February 2010 there is something that uses it - in fact there are two iPhone/iPod Touch applications.

The first off the block, at the start of February, was easybox from Switzerland with their "Radiostar" application.

This application features searching and playing stations from the Reciva database and adds the ability to recommend to friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook.

It can also show what friends are recommending - however, I think it was finding people outside my personal friends list. The developers told me that they would take a look to try to resolve (or explain) it.

The use of the back-end Reciva system is relatively simple for now - it allows searching and browsing through the stations and then playing them. Included is the "Now Playing" information from SHOUTcast-compatible streams and a small level meter jumps around at the bottom of the screen.

They describe it like this:

Radiostar: The Social Internet Radio Player

Radiostar lets you stream more than 10,000 stations from the award winning Reciva directory service directly to your iPhone. Interact with your friends, see what they are listening to, recommend a station on your Facebook timeline and tweet directly from within the application.

- 10,000+ radio stations from the Reciva directory
- Support of the MP3 and AAC audio codecs (Feb 2011 update adds WMA)
- Facebook integration: see what ones friends are listening to or recommending, post recommendation to the facebook news feed
- Twitter integration: tweet which station you are listening to
- Browse stations by location and genre
- Search a station by name
- Stream over WiFi and, if desired, over 3G/EDGE
- Support of many playlist formats like PLS, RAM, M3U and ASX
- Feb 2011 update adds
-Plays On Demand content (Listen Again material)
-Supports Apple AirPlay so can stream to devices like Apple TV

The launch price is 1.79GBP.

When comparing with a Reciva-based radio there are a number of other things that are missing.
For example
- being able to access "On Demand" content (Feb 2011 update resolves this)
- "My Stuff" list that users can maintain via the Reciva web site
- extra codecs (e.g. OGG, RealAudio and WMA) (Feb 2011 update adds WMA)
They have acknowledged that a priority is to add support for WMA (and have included it on Feb 2011 update)

Then, like the buses, another app follows quickly behind ... "Reciva iRadio" ... it is from Reciva themselves.

It costs more (2.79GBP at launch) - and lacks the social network integration, but adds in a lot more integration with the Reciva back-end system plus support for WMA and OGG.

Here is how Reciva promote theirs:
Listen to thousands of radio stations from all over the globe, from local AM/FM stations to DAB, HD Radio, DMB, Satellite and Internet only streams! Available on your iPhone using 3G and WiFi or iPod Touch using WiFi. You can listen to it all on the Reciva iRadio app...

Using a industry recognised leader of Internet Radio platforms, the Reciva directory of audio streams will give you access to News, Sports, Music, Weather, Travel plus over 60 other Genres. You can also choose from over 150 locations all over the world so you will never be without your local station, however far from home you travel.

Catch-up radio is also available via the 'Listen Again' feature (subject to availability from individual station), and you can store your favourites for instant access to the stations you want to listen to. With a fully functioning search option, a recommendation engine and access to thousands of podcasts you have everything you need from a radio app..

Register your Reciva iRadio app at www.radios.reciva.com to add additional features!

Key Features

· Reciva Radio directory featuring over 17,000 live streams, 30,000 on-demand streams and 10,000+ podcasts
· Easy to use interface
· Store favourites directly to the app or via the Reciva website
· Search by Location, Genre or Keyword
· Pause live radio
· Play all stream formats including AAC, MP3, WMA and Ogg Vorbis
· Instantly view your listening history
· Add your own podcast feeds to your favourites list
· See station logos where available
· Play in background
· Create folders of your favourite stations so you can easily access lists like your summer or Christmas music
· Get recommendations based on your listening habits
· Enter your custom URLs for stations not available on the Reciva database

Reciva iRadio claims more stations than Radiostar because of the additional codec support. It is the WMA support that provides the biggest additional set (at present there are 5983 WMA stations marked as "Passed" in the Reciva database).
Unlike the Radiostar application, there is no presentation of the title/artist information and no level meters.

Navigation through regions to stations is similar to other applications.

Also - I could not find a way to update the "My Stuff" information from within the application - but maybe I have not found the right way to do it yet.

I have bought both and have them up and running. For me, both work as advertised. All I need now is a much longer lasting battery on my iPhone!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CES 2010 roundup

- What was new (in internet radio) at CES 2010?

I have been to a couple of CES events in Las Vegas over the last few years. The glitz of the strip seems like the right atmosphere for this huge event. However, this year I attended only vicariously through various blogs and news releases.

With 2700 exhibitors covering the whole of the consumer elexctroics world you can imagine that internet-enabled audio devices do not get the same sort coverage as 3D-TV or tablet devices.

Anyway - there were only a few internet radio items of note that I noticed.
In this post I have picked out the Innovation Awards "Honoree" status but none made it to "Best of".

Pure - announced it is now selling products in America.
They have listed an office in San Francisco and I presume have tweaked some of the devices (e.g. remove DAB, FM tuning steps, ensure power supplies work).
There is a new sub-set of their site at http://www.pure.com/us
New models previewed (due to ship later in 2010) were the Oasis Flow and Sirocco 550.
Pure Oasis Flow and Scirocco 550

The Oasis Flow looks, at first glance, the same as their old splashproof Oasis DAB radio. It has touch controls and OLED display (like the Evoke Flow) and adds FM plus Internet radio.
The Sirocco 550 is a mini-hifi featuring radio (Internet, DAB/DAB+/DMB and FM), CD, iPod Dock and USB for flash drive. Sound promises to be good, with a CLass-D amp and 40W RMS per channel.

Naim - launched the UnitiQute a sibling to their Uniti (which arrived around May 2009).

This high-spec device has a preamplifier with two analogue inputs, five 24bit/192kHz-capable digital inputs and conventional radio (DAB/FM) along with internet radio (vTuner powered). It can also play from UPnP-AV sources along with a USB socket to play from a Flash drive and proper Apple iPod connectivity. It also comes with a large remote control.

Compared to the Uniti, it lacks the CD drive and appears to have a slightly lower spec analogue preamp.
Looks like the price will be around 2000 USD.

Logitech - picked up 7 honoree awards overall - 2 of which were from the ex-Slimdevices group - namely the Squeezebox Radio and the (not yet shipping) Squeezebox Touch. Both have been extensively covered here before - so not so much to say this time.

Sonos - had an award for the Controller 200 and ZonePlayer S5 - again products covered here before.

A related group is the IMDA - Internet Media Device Alliance - held one of their meetings at the event - http://www.imdalliance.org/
Hopefully we will see some progress on standards for use by broadcasters, device suppliers and software builders that will further enhance how internet radio access on-line content ... audio and related information (for example cover art, biographies, "buy now" and EPGs should all become easier to access and present).
Last year they published presentations from their CES event on their site - so watch out for it happening again this year.