Like most things in today’s tech world, radio – and the way we listen to it – has changed dramatically: no longer do we gather around the ‘wireless’ to listen to the next episode of The Archers!
Radio has evolved, but so has the ways we can access our favourite artists, shows and music. Through the power of smart technology and the internet, we can now access the radio through our mobile devices, be it our phones or tablets.
While FM radio was eventually a pretty standard feature on most feature phones, by some quirk of progress it’s actually fallen by the wayside on many smartphones – particularly the more expensive ones. Now, if your phone does still have a built-in FM radio app, then this is a pretty short article. Just make sure you use a set of earphones, as they also double up as the antenna!
However, if you’ve got a blank space staring at you where FM radio ought to be, or you simply want to broaden your horizons, then don’t worry – there are plenty of options for listening to radio stations. Although you can't listen to radio transmissions in the conventional sense, you can stream many radio stations over the internet. In fact, many radio stations now have dedicated apps to make it easy to listen online – and there are also loads of dedicated online shows and services that you can take advantage of.
On a Wi-Fi connection, you can, of course, stream away to your heart's content. However, do bear in mind that streaming radio to your device over your mobile network could use a good chunk of data! If you're not sure of your limit, it's advisable to contact your network to check the details of your tariff. That way, you'll avoid any bad blood between the two of you as a result of any unexpected data charges!
The venerable BBC may have a bit of a dusty reputation, but they’re keen to shake it off – and the BBC iPlayer Radio app is a great example of how they’ve embraced modern technology.
It offers live streaming of all the BBC Radio stations, from Nick Grimshaw to the shipping forecast, so you’ve got plenty to choose from. It’s not just the national stations on offer either – if you’d prefer to listen to your local BBC station, it uses location services to find your nearest one. It also has a catch-up function, so you can listen to any programmes you’ve missed, plus there's the option to download programmes for offline listening!
The presentation is really slick, as you’d expect from the BBC, and there’s plenty of information about the shows and track listings for music programmes. It also links in with the BBC’s Playlister app, so you can put together your own personal playlist of your favourite tracks to listen to offline. Finally, due to the unique way in which the BBC is funded, the app is completely free – and there’s no ads!
Available across all smartphone platforms, TuneIn is a real gem.
With over 100,000 radio stations and millions of podcasts from all over the globe to choose from, there's more music than even in your wildest dreams! You can create your own personalised selection of stations to follow, share your thoughts with other users and receive recommendations of new stations to listen to.
You’ll need to create an account first, but this can be linked to your existing Google+ or Facebook pages to make things even easier. You can also sign up to TuneIn online here.
Looking for something a little different when you listen to the radio? Earbits has you covered: it's completely free and with no adverts, limitations or other disturbances to hamper your listening.
Earbits is designed solely to showcase the music of independent bands and artists and doesn’t include any mainstream content. The chances are you’ve never heard of any of the songs available – so if you’re always on the hunt for new and upcoming music, then this is the app for you. Sign up to Earbits here and check out what's available!
iOS - Free
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad then you’ve got access to Beats 1, Apple’s 24-hour streaming radio station.
Headed up by former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, Beats 1 launched in 2014 as part of the Apple Music subscription service. However, while you need to pay for the main Apple Music subscription, Beats 1 is still currently free to listen to.
By all accounts they play a lot of Drake – but there’s an ecelectic range of presenters, from St Vincent to Jaden Smith so you’re sure to find something you like. Listening to Beats 1 couldn't be simpler, you don't need to install anything - simply open up the Music app on your device and you'll find it in there.
Once you've got your desired app downloaded and installed on your smartphone or tablet, it’s time to explore an endlessly exciting new world of sounds, which is music to our ears indeed!