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First look: Sirius XM's streaming satellite radio app for iPhone

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Struggling satellite radio provider Sirius XM's new iPhone app released Thursday doesn't do anything wrong. In fact, it works quite well. It's what the app doesn't do at all -- namely, play some of the service's most popular content -- that will likely catch the ire of subscribers.

The fine print in Sirius XMs press release says it all: Some select programming, including MLB Play-by-Play, NFL Play-by-Play, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, and Howard Stern, will not be available on the iPhone and iPod touch. Its a rights issue that keeps this content from being available on the iPhone.

If youre a Sirius XM subscriber, and youre OK with those losses, you already know what to expect from this application (AppStore): dozens of specialized radio stations catering to nearly every listening need you may have. There is a wide breadth of specialized, exclusive content ranging from heavy metal music to Christian talk radio, and everything in between.

Stations are separated by category, and each category has numerous options for listeners.

As far as iPhone streaming radio apps go, Sirius (conspicuously labeled version 1.2.4) ranks up with the best of them, performance-wise. On a WiFi connection, selected stations will begin streaming music within three seconds, and the quality is acceptable. Stations can be added to a favorites list for easy access, so you dont have to navigate your way through the large number of stations every time. A great feature of the application is the ability to instantly buy a song youre listening to via iTunes. Songs can also be added to a shopping cart to be purchased in bulk at a later point in time.

Even if youre not near WiFi, the service works great. On Edge, it took roughly 10 seconds for a station to begin streaming. After it started, there were no hiccups or stutters, though the sound quality did suffer a bit to accommodate for the limited bandwidth.

When browsing stations, song titles will occasionally lag behind what is actually playing on the station. You might select a channel expecting to hear the song being displayed, but the station has already moved on to the next track. Sirius XM subscribers already know that this is nothing new those who have a receiver in their car or in a portable stereo system will encounter the same delay problem.



While the performance is excellent, content and value are an entirely subjective matter. The app itself is free, but the Sirius XM service costs $12.95 per month. Sirius announced this month they would be increasing their rate by $1.98 to offset royalty fees starting July 1. In addition, current subscribers must pay an extra $2.99 per month to use the streaming service. New subscribers, without a hardware receiver, would pay $12.95 per month for the mobile access. If youre still unsure, the Sirius XM app comes with a free 7-day trial.



At a cost of $3 per month or $36 a year in addition to the regular monthly fee for current subscribers, its hard to recommend the Sirius XM iPhone app particularly with a number of great, free Internet radio applications available on the platform, such as Public Radio Tuner (Free, App Store) and Pandora (Free, App Store).



That said, the Sirius XM app works well and offers a lot of great content. Its worth trying for the 7-day free period, and if you dont mind the monthly fees, its a perfectly serviceable streaming radio option on the iPhone. But without its most popular content options, its hard to believe the Sirius XM app and its additional monthly fee will catch on with listeners.
post #2 of 32
I think satellite radio is bucking the tide here. The main selling points was diversity and mobility, and those things are being delivered with internet streaming on mobile handsets, for free.

Offering the service on a mobile handset just highlights the shortcomings without any advantages, particularly since they're restricting premium content. I guess if you have some favorite content that is only available on Sirius it might make sense, but it's hard to see how this isn't an expensive version of Pandora, for most people.
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post #3 of 32
The app also only works in the US. Canadian users are out of luck. Likely due to the fact that in Canada Sirius and XM are still separate companies. Licensing would probably be a major roadblock.
post #4 of 32
I for one will not be getting the "premium" package in order to listen to decidedly non-premium content.

SiriusXM is a sinking ship. Once Howard Stern retires, i'm probably cancelling my subscription. Satellite radio is a great concept, but just a few years too late.
post #5 of 32
When I first heard that Howard Stern wasn't going to be available, I thought it was due to the fact that Apple wants to parent the apps and make sure nothing bad can be accessed. They denied the nine inch nails app after all, simply because it linked to their song "Closer."
post #6 of 32
The app that the folks at nicemac where working on looked alot more feature rich. To bad Sirius/XM denied the app on the app store.

It is amazing in this day & age that they do not have artwork...
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

When I first heard that Howard Stern wasn't going to be available, I thought it was due to the fact that Apple wants to parent the apps and make sure nothing bad can be accessed. They denied the nine inch nails app after all, simply because it linked to their song "Closer."

3.0 now allows parents to block Apps based on age-appropriate ratings.
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

When I first heard that Howard Stern wasn't going to be available, I thought it was due to the fact that Apple wants to parent the apps and make sure nothing bad can be accessed. They denied the nine inch nails app after all, simply because it linked to their song "Closer."

If that was the case, Opie and Anthony would also be unavailable. Fortunately, you can tune to XM 202 - The Virus on the iPhone app.
post #9 of 32
If they offer an option to buy the premium channels I’m in.
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post #10 of 32
as others have mentioned. satellite radio WAS a great concept and became reality too late.

AOL Radio, Pandora, among others = free choices.

no Howard Stern and other premium channels?? LOL. no app for me thank you.
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTL215 View Post

3.0 now allows parents to block Apps based on age-appropriate ratings.

Howard Stern is a loud mouth idiot.

Not quite sure why there all the love of the guy.

Doesn't the $2.99 charge also give you access on the computer as well?
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTL215 View Post

3.0 now allows parents to block Apps based on age-appropriate ratings.

Who cares- can you get porn on it yet?
post #13 of 32
It's ridiculous that you can't get some of the best content in this app. Don't bother with it. Go to the app store and 10 bucks will buy you the POCKET TUNES RADIO app which will stream ALL channels
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Howard Stern is a loud mouth idiot.
Not quite sure why there all the love of the guy.

Thanks for your utterly irrelevant opinion. I'm sure you've listened to him extensively enough to make an informed judgement.
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Who cares- can you get porn on it yet?

www.pornhub.com on your iPhone - not that i expect you to have an iPhone, teckdud.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by voodooru View Post

as others have mentioned. satellite radio WAS a great concept and became reality too late.

I'd say not too late, but rather, they already had their chance, plenty of time. They've been offering subscriptions for eight years now. They made some irresponsible fiscal and technological mistakes and what little market they had is changing too.
post #17 of 32
Do you see the switch in Settings called Play in background?

No? Neither do I.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #18 of 32
The one time a duplicate post would be a good idea. Eh Apple?
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #19 of 32
First off I've been a sirius subscriber since Howard moved, and he is absolutely the only reason to get it (if your not a fan, you probably have never listened to him, so just stop hating)

Second to actually charge listeners more money on top of their usual subscription (with limited content to boot) is a complete joke.

Finally, the only way that SiriusXM survives if/when Howard retires is if they slash subscription rates before he leaves and get people turned on to the service at a reasonable price, this is not accomplishing that at all.
post #20 of 32
This makes no sense. As far as I can tell, Sirius is not offering NFL, CNBC, Playboy or Howard (even though he's not even relevant anymore) with this service...even after clipping you extra money for the subscription.

Just because iPhone users are a bit overly enthusiastic about the product doesn't mean we're stupid. The quants at Sirius had better go back and re-work the business model if they want better results.
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post #21 of 32
A co-worker and I were recently discussing the imminent release of this app and its practicality. He's (of course) a Sirius subscriber, whereas I am not and never have been. He's was adament about how "big" Sirius is, and how this is only going to catapult it forward.

I tried pointing out to him that satellite radio in itself is a total failure, barely reaching 20 million subscribers between both major competing brands, in 8 freakin years. Potential has been reached through normal distribution methods.

While I agreed with him that an iPhone/iPod touch application would be the best thing to ever happen to satellite radio, it would ultimately just be another way for current subscribers to access their account (delivering a greater value overall to keep the customer feeling good about this service), and would not attract new SiriusXM subscribers.

He thought I was crazy, but then again, I've forgotten more about American business models then he'll ever know.
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

When I first heard that Howard Stern wasn't going to be available, I thought it was due to the fact that Apple wants to parent the apps and make sure nothing bad can be accessed. They denied the nine inch nails app after all, simply because it linked to their song "Closer."


But they allowed the Raw Dog comedy channel which is 24 hours raunchy with F@CK and SH!T all day.
post #23 of 32
Pushing aside the whole no Howard BS, this app is eriously lacking a few KEY features:

1) No album Art
2) No scrolling text (PDT?)
3) No ability to browse by channel #
4) No ability to enter a channel # to go to that channel
5) App does not tune into the last channel when restarting the app (user setable feature)
6) No back button. If you start digging down into the channels, find a channel but want to go back to that catagory to find another channel, no dice. You have to click on catagories and go back to that catagory
7) No lyrics

All of these things were in the uSirius. Youd think Sirius would have at least looked at their effort before developing this piece of grabage. I was part of the beta test for uSirius and all of the things I listed above (and many I didnt list) all came about due to user testing.
post #24 of 32
No Stern?
Guess I won't be paying for internet delivered sirius after all.
post #25 of 32
I am one who downloaded it just to listen to Stern. This is a major flaw with the app, I will not be signing up for their premium service without Stern.
post #26 of 32
XM came with the new vehicle we bought. I think we get a 90 day trial. We like it. Wide variety of stations - children's music for our kid, Euro-pop for my wife, grungy-alternative for me. And lots of other stuff to explore. Also great for long road trips - no dead zones or station hopping/hunting. I don't understand this "Stern is the only reason to get it" argument.

Now, sitting at my desk at work, I tend to listen to last.fm, streaming radio stations (KEXP is a fav), or stream my iTunes library from home using SqueezeCenter. But I have to believe the vast majority of people are not in front of a computer they can stream music on all day long.

Have handsets and mobile connectivity matured to the point where they deliver viable connectivity to an in car sound system? Say, at least 128kbps? I'm talking streaming from a remote source, not from an iPod or similar local cache of content. And what do you pay for that sort of streaming? Do the cell carriers' data plans allow that sort of thing?

- Jasen.
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasenj1 View Post

XM came with the new vehicle we bought. I think we get a 90 day trial. We like it. Wide variety of stations - children's music for our kid, Euro-pop for my wife, grungy-alternative for me. And lots of other stuff to explore. Also great for long road trips - no dead zones or station hopping/hunting. I don't understand this "Stern is the only reason to get it" argument.

I don't think many people are making that argument.

It's more like, they would be willing to pay the extra subscription fee for web streaming if Stern was available via streaming. Most people are just expressing their preference and buying criteria. Perhaps in doing so, some can come across as proclaiming that everyone else must think the same way. But I don't think that this is truly their intention.
post #28 of 32
Just another way to suck money out of us. This should be a free service for normal (not premium) subscribers, the same way it is on the internet if you want to listen and you are grandfathered in on your subscription.
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post #29 of 32
The weird thing is, I already have a premium streaming subscription so I can listen to Sirius on my Squeezebox Duet, and the Howard channels are available there, so it's a specific restriction of the iPhone app.
What makes no sense is that, as mentioned earlier, Pocket Tunes lets you listen to all streamed channels (including Howard) using the standard, cheaper streaming subscription (which used to be free with each $13/month radio subscription)
Another irritating feature of the Sirius/XM app: channel selection. Not only can you not punch in the numbers directly, but they're not even displayed, so you have to scroll the entire channel list.
The only good thing I see in this debacle is that in the end they were allowed to enable 3G streaming instead of restricting it to WiFi.
But the bottom line is that PocketTunes, even at its $10 price, is a much better deal.
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xgman View Post

Just another way to suck money out of us. This should be a free service for normal (not premium) subscribers, the same way it is on the internet if you want to listen and you are grandfathered in on your subscription.

There is no should, that implies an obligation, and I see no reason why any of us should feel entitled. As for sucking money out of us, well, that is the point of a business, however you have the option to not buy it.
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post #31 of 32
as an end user, and potential subscriber, I dont care about rights, all I know is that it doesnt get howard stern, they own the stinking stern show and they cant get the rights? WTF?

No Stern == instant FAIL

other than stern this is a great app! better than pandora
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post #32 of 32
The channel restriction isn't the iPhone, the restriction is ALL mobile markets. Per the FAQ on Sirius/XM's site

"SIRIUS & XM offer all of the channels for which we have mobile performance rights. For that reason, certain channels which may be available on your satellite radio or online radio service may not be available on a mobile device like the iPhone."

Did you ever stop to think that the people that own Howard Stern's contract will not allow mobile rights to his show? Complain to Howard Stern. Same goes for any sports program. The premium service for online access is better than their previous streaming service. You now get higher quality audio with the premium upgrade. Thankfully, I have a three year plan that doesn't expire until 2010, so I still get to listen to the original streaming feed on my computer. I don't get WiFi at work, so the iPhone app doesn't do much for me.
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