When I made up my “one (fictional) music app to rule them all,” I was talking about something like Buzzam Radio, a music app that goes above and beyond the usual, by adding plenty of non-musical elements.
The Social Radio for Twitter took a step in this direction by reading your tweets in between songs. Buzzam Radio goes further, adding a number of elements to its free streaming radio offering that offer a unique (so far as we know) hybrid between music listening and traditional radio that has advantages over both. If you’ve been waiting to mix news, social feeds, and other information into your digital music, wait no further.
You can choose any combination of the following, with the option to hit the skip button at any time to ignore news when you want to hear music, and so on.
- Music: This plays songs from your iOS device’s library.
- Spotify: If you have Spotify Premium, which lets you use the app on your phone, this plays music from the Spotify playlists of your choice. This feature crashed the app during our testing, and then it failed to bring up our playlists. Apparently it’s still buggy.
- Rdio: This promises to do the same as the Spotify option. Likewise, we couldn’t get it to work. Your mileage may vary.
- News: This inserts pro podcasts in your areas of interest (Sports, Entertainment, Science, etc.) from the news sources of your choice. Options include from BBC, NPR, CBS, NBC, and Fox. You also get whatever ads are included.
- Weather: A robot voice reads the current and future weather in your area.
- Traffic: This adds robot traffic updates “when you’re driving.”
- Facebook: This is hilarious, and from the future. Following a radio-style announcer saying that you’re about to hear from Facebook, Buzzam Radio plays slinky background music in the background as a robot reads off some Facebook updates from your status update stream, as well as the names of people who liked it, as well as comments. If you look at the screen, you’ll see the text of the update, with the option to click to launch Facebook and read more.
- Twitter: You can hear robot voice versions of all the tweets in your timeline, or just specific lists.
- Podcasts: You can add any podcast on the internet to the mix.
- Additional options include Business, Comedy, Entertainment, Health, Science, Sports, Stocks, and Technology. These are more news and information snippets, each with a choice in sources. For example, the Technology section includes How Stuff Works, NPR: Technology, 60 Second Technology, Tech News Today, TED Talks, and WSJ Tech Talk.
This is a great concept, and I’ve been waiting for someone to build something like this. It’s nicely configurable, in that you can decide how many songs play in a row, from one to six, before one of the spoken-word interludes appears.
It would be nice if the Spotify and Rdio integration worked for me (maybe it’ll work for you), and also if the app didn’t constantly say “Unable to connect” (via both Wi-Fi and 3G). That issue pervaded the entire set-up process, although we have no way of knowing whether it’s just network congestion on our end. One thing that’s definitely not related to our configuration: The app doesn’t run in the background.
Assuming those problems get ironed out, this innovative, slickly-designed app has plenty to recommend it… and it’s free.