WebOS has been gifted with some great music apps, even despite the fact that there are comparatively few apps in the catalog compared with other platforms. Spotify, Grooveshark, Pandora and many more all give you a lot of options for streaming music straight from the web to your device.
So, a music streaming app has to be pretty good to stand out on the platform, and thankfully Radio Hibiki is just that, pretty good.
To this end the app does one big thing just right, and perhaps even better than any other app of its type that i have seen; fast streaming. Once you have found a station, the music or chatter starts up really very quickly. Those of you fed up with stuttering playback or that dreaded ‘buffering’ message need fear not, as I has very few occasions when either of those reared their ugly heads. WiFi streaming is perfect, and 3G is nearly as good, so this is a great option for music when you are out and about, although the Icecast streams were a little bit unreliable.
Hibiki gets its stream from both Shoutcast and Icecast, and this gives the app access to over 35,000 radio stations, and the choice can be baffling. Luckily the app lets you dive deep into each genre and genre within genre, so you never really feel lost. You can also view the top 100 stations from both Icecast and Shoutcast, and each station can be added to your list of favourites for later, quick access. A search function and recently played option round off the app’s abilities to help you get the stations you want.
One extra way, and one that is a great little addition is the option of letting the app play a random station. This is a nifty feature that can really help you find things you would otherwise have never found.
The app has a couple of really intelligent options in it’s preferences section. Firstly is the option of getting the app to only show you stations of certain bitrates, and this is great for either saving your battery a bit or for when you don’t have a fast connection. Secondly, there is a sleep timer. Not all music apps have this, but it should be part of the price of entry in these days of capped mobile data contracts.
The app, when playing a stream lets you run it in the notification area. Touching the notification icon expands it into a really nice looking bar that shows you the station you are listening to and scrolls the current song along the bottom, along with an option to pause and play the running track. As is the way with webOS, touching anywhere else on the screen turns the bar back into an unobtrusive icon.
The main listing for each station within the app shows you all the usual things you would expect, such as name, current track and artist, but also handily shows bitrate and music format(MP3/AAC etc) and also a particularly cool feature; how many people are actually listening to the station at that time.
The actual music player is fairly good, and will display the current artists album artwork if available, but has a bit too much of a sparse look to it for my liking. It’s not ugly but then its not exactly beautiful either.
The actual quality of the streams obviously depends on the bitrate of the station, but in general the output quality is good, although I have to say that Pandora does beat Hibiki in this regard, if only slightly.
So, overall what you are getting here is a very good internet radio streaming app, up there with the best on webOS, and I actually preferred it to Pandora in terms of style and ease of use, even if the sound quality is not quite as good. The fact that I can use it at home in the UK, unlike Pandora, is a big plus…..
The fast streaming is worth the price of entry alone, and you can’t go wrong with 35,000 stations.