Several converging trends have led to the Australian radio industry’s RadioApp being made available via Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. It will allow listeners to stream more than 250 Australian radio stations in the car through the apps simple interface delivered right there on head units compatible with either system.

Australians spend 3.4 hours a day listening to audio, according to the study made in 2016 by Vision Critical (commissioned by Pandora), and  the majority of traditional radio listening happens in the car during commute hours. Currently FM and AM listening peaks in the morning just after 8 o’clock, but streaming is on the rise, more consistent through the day and by the evening overtaking traditional radio listening. The rise of incar connectivity and the falling costs of data are driving mobile streaming in the car, along with increasing implementation of CarPlay and Android Auto.

(c) Vision Critical report Jan 2017ABOVE: % share of listening start times by audio source: Vision Critical commissioned by Pandora, Jan 2017 (2016 figures) 

Australian (and global) radio stations have long been available to stream, of course, through internet radio apps such as TuneIn, which has been available for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto since 2015. The RadioApp app, however, hopes to keep attention firmly focused on Australian radio stations, allowing drivers to stay in touch with their local providers. RadioApp allows listeners to tune in to commercial, ABC, SBS and DAB+ digital radio stations across the country, users can create a favourites list, and swipe to see what’s playing on other stations. An alarm and sleep-timer function also allows users to fall asleep and wake up to their preferred station (though this is not, perhaps, recommended for drivers).

“Through RadioApp, listeners can easily discover local stations while travelling, access their favourites list, and control the app safely through their connected car dashboard,” says Joan Warner, the chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia. “Consumers today expect freedom and connectivity and we want to make sure they can listen to their favourite local radio stations however they want and wherever they are.”

It will also allow a smooth transition from car to home, with the app remaining active on the mobile phone that is connected to either CarPlay or Android Auto, and so able to continue an uninterrupted service through either the phone itself or beamed to a Bluetooth audio system in the home. The compatibility with CarPlay and Android Auto will also, of course, allow Australian radio to more effective compete against the rise of streaming apps such as Pandora and Spotify.

The streaming qualities are governed by whatever broadcasters make available as an internet stream. We asked Commercial Radio Australia for technical clarification and they replied: "You are right, the broadcasters control it. The results will be identical to their internet radio stream quality when connected to wi-fi. RadioApp automatically adjusts the audio stream quality when listening using mobile data to a slightly lower bit-rate, so that you can listen for longer without using too much mobile data." 

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