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App Review: 5fm’s new app for iOS and Android

If you’re the kind of person who’s always listening to music/radio and wouldn’t be caught dead headphone-less, pause that song or pass that frequency for a quick second and check out 5fm’s new iOS and android app. The much, much – in comparison to the previous version – lightweight app links you (through your mobile) to the 5fm community in a pretty, content and features packed fashion. The whole crux of it is the transition one makes from the dated app released in late 2012. All it takes is a simple update to your already existing download, or if you’re new to this is just a quick free download for your I-and android device. Does it work as advertised, or is it really just another gimmick? Head past the break and image for a quick rundown of just how seamless and fun this utility really is.

[title type=”h2″ class=””]SUMMARY [/title]

We gave the 5fm app a go, and for most part it works as advertised. Once you’ve completed download/update of the app you’re pretty much set to go – push start to the ‘open app’ button and brace yourselves your ears. The app is straight forward, on opening it at first it pops up a tutorial screen which lets you in on all the features found inside. The first tab you see on the left slide menu is, au naturel, Listen Live followed by the Show Lineup, Loudroom, Events, Polls, Feedback and your user profile. While the right hand side is reserved for making direct calls to the station (call charges apply)

From there, the 5fm app turns into a more traditional radio streaming experience. The listen live tab serves up a curated live feed of the current DJ, song playing and playlists. But there is no personalisation or interaction to be seen here — Loudroom serves up the same exact content to every listener that you would find on the DJ’s blogs on 5fm’s website. It would’ve been great if the app was to allow us to interact with the DJs via an integrated IM service – ain’t nobody got time to be sending R1,50 SMS’s.

On the whole, the 5fm app has succeeded at building a mobile-first service that offers something its competitors and sister stations at management troubled SABC don’t. The human-curated playlists are top notch through features like the ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ buttons allow users and vivid listeners to create a more unique listening experience by having an input on what they’d love to hear more of on-air. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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The other major short-coming (other than some stability issues, which we’re willing to forgive seeing that it’s early days for this release) is the app’s design. The station says its guiding principle was to focus on function, and build something light, simple and accessible for those that don’t consider themselves early adopters. But there are plenty of questionable interface decisions. For one, the left-hand slide out menu doesn’t work properly when live streaming on a few Android tablets (we used the Vodacom Tab 3G, pictured above, and Alcatel Pop 7). And, while it (the app) will function when you’re browsing around other apps, the visual indicator of its existence disappears the moment you leave the home screen. Then there’s the possibility of your live stream pausing instead of running in the background on iOS devices.

Despite its problems, 5fm’s app is still a pretty compelling product. If you’re not yet hooked on using your device’s built in radio, or on TuneIn’s robust social features it’s certainly worth giving this new comer updated app a look. It has all the basics down pat and at least partially succeeds in its quest to build unique features around the inherently emotional experience of listening to radio.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.
http://www.savibeza.co.za
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