Recording and Digital Mobile Media

The ongoing quest for media options that do not chain the user to monthly subscription fees produced a new discovery this week. TuneIn Radio is currently ranked 22nd (and rising) on the iTunes paid app list, but it is worth more than the one-time $1.99 price. Purchasers have noted that there are a lot of radio apps, but this one is unique because of its addition features. (The iTunes store is giving the nod to apps that allow access to hundreds or thousands of stations, and is now banning individual station apps as "spam.") Recording digital media via a timer or in real time is nothing new to those with a DVR at home, but being able to use an iPhone as a radio time-shifting device opens new avenues of use. Once plugged into a car sound system, it is possible to listen to radio from across the country live or on a recording. Beyond one touch recording, TuneIn Radio also connects users to an online program schedule. Home users may also like the sleep timer and record timer. From Omaha, I certainly enjoyed driving from the airport and listening to WLS oldies from the Chicago radio station. Even more exciting, though, is the concept of mobile media time-shifting. Imagine the day in the future when a mobile device will do for video what this app does for audio. Such an "app phone," as David Pogue has called it, would become a mobile media server. Assuming improved battery life and port flexibility for easy projection to favorite large screens, we begin to fully disconnect from broadcast airwaves, cabled and satellite television, and bulky home DVR units. At work or on the road, media would travel more seamlessly with the user. If telephone providers continue to be our cellphone Internet connections (Cox and other cable companies also are rolling out mobile access), then they'll exercise some control over what this will cost. Innovative apps, such as TuneIn Radio, will be portals to content. As we learned recently at Omaha 10-10-10, the decade ahead will be mobile and very exciting.