If you don’t use TuneIn, you may want to adjust your dial.
For years, TuneIn has been a great app for listening to live radio broadcasts on your phone. With this simple model, it has amassed 50 million active users each month. Now, it’s becoming a whole lot more. In an update today, TuneIn has gone from being a directory of radio stations to a full-fledged social network built around live and on-demand radio.
“The way TuneIn worked before, is that you’d browse around, find a station, and you would favorite it, or bookmark it,” TuneIn CEO John Donham told Digital Trends. “What we’re doing next is looking more like an audio Twitter or audio Facebook. Instead of being a browser with bookmarks, you’re going to have a whole bunch of brands that you’re going to find and follow.”
The new design feels like Spotify for radio fans.
Essentially, TuneIn is doing for radio what Spotify is has begun doing for music and Facebook has done for your old high school friends. It wants to connect radio stations, artists, and podcasters with their actual fans. TuneIn wants to be the platform that lets listeners and radio show hosts can see each other and communicate.
TuneIn’s VP of Product, Kristin George, gave us a full run through of the new app and we’ve been testing the beta version ourselves for several days. (You can download the new version now on Android and iOS.) The new TuneIn doesn’t yet fulfill its promise, but it’s well on its way. If a few features are added, it could really become the one-stop shop for all things audio. As big radio listeners, we couldn’t be more excited.
If you’re an avid NPR listener or have podcasts you love, then joining a service like TuneIn isn’t a big deal — you just search for what you like. But most people aren’t like this. This is why TuneIn’s team decided that its simple list of categories and Google-like search feature needed some modernizing.
“In the past, we really looked a lot like Yahoo plus Google, and we felt like we really needed to take it to the next level,” said Kristin George. “It’s just so hard to discover 100,000 stations in this directory format.”
Donham chimed in, comparing a new TuneIn user to someone who just discovered the Internet: “It would be like if you’ve never been on the Internet before and the very first page you see is Google. And [you’re] like ‘well, I don’t know what I’m looking for. What’s the Internet?’”
This is why TuneIn now has a smart profile-creation process. As soon as you begin, you fill out the typical registration stuff, then land right on the Explore page.It presents you with a bunch of suggestions for things you might like, including music genres, news, comedy, sports shows, storytelling programs, and tons of other choices including our personal favorite: tech. Suggestions that popped up for us included some of our favorites like Planet Money, RadioLab, WTF with Marc Maron, and TWiT Live. Clicking on a show means you now “Follow” that show, which is a lot like subscribing to it on a podcasting app like iTunes. You can also follow entire radio stations or topics, like “March Madness” or “Michigan State Spartans,” in our case (Go green!).