This last weekend I made a quick trip to Kentucky. Sixteen hours in a van is a lot of time for listening to music, and there are basically three ways you can do so through a car stereo: you have the radio, CDs, or an external device.
Normally, I just hook my HTC EVO 4G up to my car stereo through the auxiliary jack and stream some of my Spotify playlists. Now the key word in that last sentence was “my.” As in my car, or even my wife’s car. Both of our vehicles have aux inputs. But for this most recent trip, we had to borrow a vehicle. I picked it up from a friend just before leaving and found out there was no aux input. That means my only choices were CDs, which I haven’t used in years, or the radio. I guess I was stuck with the radio.
It wasn’t so bad for the first couple hours because we knew the radio stations for our area. Once we hit Ohio, however, the scan and pray game began – hit the scan station button, and pray that something good would be on. The problem with this method is that there is just as good of a chance you come across a station you would like to listen to, but skip on by because there was a commercial playing. The first thought I had was how cool it would be to have an app that you could plan your trip and find the radio stations you want to listen to on your route so you would know what the stations were and when you needed to switch to them.
After we stopped in Ohio so my wife could drive for a little bit, I grabbed my phone and did a search in the Play Store for FM radio station finder apps. I of course found out that I wasn’t the first person to have the thought of creating an app for this, and someone that actually knew how to develop the app actually already did. In fact, there were a few different apps that looked promising. I decided to download two of the free ones and try them out. The two apps are called FindFM and Radio Locator.
I quickly found out that the two apps, while doing the same thing, did it in two completely different ways. Both of the apps did what I wanted them to, which was find my location and spit out a list of stations that I could tune in where I currently was driving. Both of them listed the stations and told what their genre was. Both of them let you select a favorite genre, and sort those stations out separately. But that’s where the similarities stopped.
FindFM was a very small download and once it found your location it then queried the server for the rest of the data it needed. That means that you would need a data connection in order to get the results you wanted. Radio Locator, on the other hand, was a bigger download, and after I opened the app the first time it required an additional download. I found out that this was because all of the data was self-contained in the app. That means that all you need for Radio Locator to do its thing was a GPS lock. After it gets that it, already has everything else it needs.
Another reason that FindFM was so small is because it has no options. You tap the menu button and all you get is a link to a very short help paragraph. The only real things you can even interact with in the app is to manually enter your area code or to star a certain genre. That’s it. Radio Locator is again completely different. There are a bunch of different options, such as filtering out certain genres. There’s options for storing and updating the database files, showing FM or AM, showing streams, increasing the search radius, changing the number of stations that show, and selecting individual genres to display. As you can see, there are a lot more options in Radio Locator, but as we all know, more options doesn’t always equate to being better.
After playing with both the apps on and off for a couple hours, I ended up going with FindFM more often than Radio Locator. Radio Locator didn’t do a very good job with updating the list of stations available. I was well out of the range of some of the stations that they still had listed. FindFM was the simpler app, and it just worked. It didn’t have extra options or features that were pointless. On the ride home, I never opened up Radio Locator at all, instead using FindFM exclusively. Now you might have different results with Radio Locator than I did, but if you want to find radio stations with an app that will just work, give FindFM a try. Links to both of the apps can be found below.
Download: Play Store
Download: Play Store