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TUAW Review: WunderRadio

WunderRadioThe geniuses at Weather Underground have done it again! Now they've capitalized on their insight into weather radio to bring the iPhone world WunderRadio. Available in the App Store (click opens iTunes) for US$5.99, WunderRadio provides NOAA Weather streams based on your current location.

But there's a lot more to WunderRadio than NOAA Weather. Weather Underground has joined with RadioTime.com to provide thousands of radio streams from around the world. Once again, based on your current location, WunderRadio provides a listing of nearby stations to provide you with local AM, FM, and Internet radio streams.

Enthusiasts of live police, fire, and EMS scanners get a bonus in the form of scanner feeds from ScanAmerica.us. With all of this content, who needs iTunes? Of course, the app has to do a good job of capturing the audio stream on the iPhone.

"The initial impetus behind this application was to provide iPhone users with instant access to local weather radio streams," said Alan Steremberg, President of Weather Underground. "During development, we decided to extend the scope of radio stations offered by working with RadioTime - the result is an easy to use portal to over 60,000 of the best talk, music and sports radio stations around the globe."

Read on for a quick review of WunderRadio.

I just arrived in Dallas, TX, where I'm teaching a Business Analysis class this week. It's always nice to know what the weather is going to be like where I am, so I pulled up the Crowley/Fort Worth, TX weather radio (see screenshot below), and found out there is a severe weather alert being issued. The NOAA forecast for the next few days mentioned that the weather is going to be rather nice, with temperatures in the lower 80s. This service, of course, only works for US locations.



Next, I thought I'd check out the news at home, so I pulled up a Denver news radio station (see below). The sound quality was much better than it used to be in my first car, a bright orange 1975 Chevy Vega Kammback station wagon. The station, KOA (AKA "The Blowtorch" because you can hear it all over the western US if conditions are right), broadcasts in AM so I think the signal was actually better on the iPhone than it usually is on a car radio.



As mentioned earlier, WunderRadio leverages the content assets of RadioTime.com. "WunderRadio has created an innovative approach for iPhone users to explore the unique music, talk formats and personalities only radio can offer, and which online streaming music services just can't provide," said Bill Moore, CEO, RadioTime. "The integration of RadioTime guide with Weather Underground's technology makes it easy to browse the enormous selection of radio the world has to offer."

Finally, I decided to check out the police scanner for my home county in Colorado (pictured below). Considering I've never listened to this before, it was kind of weird to hear the local sheriff's office reporting a car crash a couple of miles from my neighborhood, while I was sitting in a hotel in Dallas. Note that the green/yellow/red signal strength indicator only appears when there's actual content being streamed, so the screenshot was taken while the scanner was silent. The scanner service only includes US content at this time.



Having used several of the other free streaming radio clients available in the App Store, I was impressed with the breadth of content on WunderRadio. Unlike AOL Radio, which seems to pick a few stations per market area, or Pandora, just about every radio station in my home area was on the list.

As you can see from the screenshot following this paragraph, each station is identified with a small icon denoting the bandwidth requirement, with E meaning that the station works with an EDGE connection and 3G denoting the need for the extra bandwidth of a 3G network. The number underneath the E or 3G denotes the bandwidth requirement in kilobits per second. I'm fortunate enough to have a five-bar 3G connection here in Dallas, and the clarity of the signal for several of the high-bandwidth stations was just amazing. Some stations supply additional data along with the audio stream, including the name of the artist and song currently playing.



You can save your favorite stations to a "Favorites" list, making it as easy to change stations as punching the button on the old AM radio in the Vega...

Is WunderRadio worth the US$5.99? Absolutely! For this frequent traveler, it's a great way to feel like I'm at home even when I'm on the road. Wunder Radio makes it possible to listen to other radio stations all over the world, check on weather, and even listen in on what emergency workers are doing. This one's a keeper on my iPhone 3G.

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Audio Software iPhone App Store

The geniuses at Weather Underground have done it again! Now they've capitalized on their insight into weather radio to bring the iPhone...