Version 3 of Broadcasts, Steve Troughton-Smith’s internet radio app and a Club MacStories Recommends pick, has been released with an updated design, improved search, Shazam integration and a URL scheme that simplifies sharing stations. Together the changes are fantastic and make enjoying internet radio with the app easier and better than ever.
The main app view now has a tab bar on iPhone and a sidebar on iPad and Mac. The result is a more modern feel that’s further enhanced by a bunch of new ways to add station artwork. Far too few internet radio stations have good artwork by default, so it’s great to now have so many ways to add your own. Broadcast offers:
- Choose a photo from your photo library
- Choose a file from the file system
- Add text or emoji on a colored background
- Using a radio glyph from the SF Symbols catalog on a colored background
The Now Playing screen has also been updated, featuring bigger and bolder artwork with a blurred background effect that draws in the colors of the station artwork. From the Now Playing screen, you can play and pause playback, adjust volume, set a sleep timer, AirPlay to another device, view the play history of the station you’re listening to , navigate to those songs or the currently playing song in Apple Music, and turn on Broadcasts’ Shazam feature, which I cover below.
With thousands of stations available worldwide, another great refinement to broadcasts is how search works. You can manually browse stations by country, search for a country, or search for stations within a country. For example, if you choose Ireland and then search for “Alternative”, you immediately reduce the number of results from 130 to seven, making it much easier to find a genre you like than if you had to scroll through a long station list.
Now, more metadata is also supported by broadcasts, including the name of the song being played and its artwork if available. Like station artwork, however, few internet radio stations I’ve tried support song art. Broadcasts also has a solution for this, which is a new beta feature that brings Shazam functionality into the iPhone and iPad versions of the app. In my testing, the feature works well, pulling cover art and song info into the Now Playing UI, making the experience much closer to listening to Apple Music, Spotify, or Apple Music. another music streaming service than before. The experimental feature can even be used if you’re using another source to listen to your music, serving as an in-playing UI for any music playing around you.
Shows has a new setting that will automatically resume playing the next time you open the app, immediately playing the last station you were listening to. The setting is disabled by default, but can be enabled whenever you start broadcasts or just when you connect the app to CarPlay.
Another handy feature is adding a URL scheme in the format
broadcasts://add?name=Name&address=Address&artworkAddress=ArtworkAddress. Add parameters for a station’s name, its URL, and a URL for the station’s artwork, and anyone with broadcasts can quickly add the station to their library. It’s a great way to send your favorite station to a friend, set up automations in Shortcuts, or link your favorite stations on the web. For example, here is a link I created for WXYC, the station at the University of North Carolina.
I don’t listen to internet radio often, but love it for live podcast broadcasts and when I don’t have the energy to choose music myself. With Broadcasts’ new search feature, I’ve effortlessly expanded my station collection and have really enjoyed quickly restarting stations when connecting to CarPlay, which has already led me to use the app more. . Broadcasts was already an app we recommended to Club MacStories members last year, and it’s only gotten better with this release.
Broadcasts are available on the App Store as a universal purchase that syncs between iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The application can be downloaded and tried for free with a fixed set of stations. A one-time in-app purchase of $4.99 unlocks the ability to add your own stations to the app’s library.
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