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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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 XM?s 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.? It?s a rights issue that keeps this content from being available on the iPhone.



If you?re a Sirius XM subscriber, and you?re 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 don?t 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 you?re 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 you?re 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 you?re 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, it?s 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. It?s worth trying for the 7-day free period, and if you don?t mind the monthly fees, it?s a perfectly serviceable streaming radio option on the iPhone. But without its most popular content options, it?s hard to believe the Sirius XM app and its additional monthly fee will catch on with listeners.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    zak2009zak2009 Posts: 4member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    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."
  • Reply 5 of 31
    mobirdmobird Posts: 276member
    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...
  • Reply 6 of 31
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    grafgraf Posts: 22member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    If they offer an option to buy the premium channels I’m in.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    voodooruvoodooru Posts: 70member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    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?
  • Reply 11 of 31
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 31
    thebasathebasa Posts: 2member
    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
  • Reply 13 of 31
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,671member
    Do you see the switch in Settings called Play in background?



    No? Neither do I.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,671member
    The one time a duplicate post would be a good idea. Eh Apple?
  • Reply 18 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    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.
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