Next Mediaworks, the company which runs 7 FM Radio stations in India, through its subsidiary Radio One with BBC Worldwide, has launched music apps for the iPhone and iPad, that allow users to stream Indian music on their devices and sing along with Karaoke tracks. The apps have been developed by 2ergo India and are paid apps, unlike similar apps from the likes of Raaga and Saavn, which are free. The IndiaONE and KaraokeOne apps for the iPhone, each cost $0.99 and are available through the iTunes App Store. The iPad app which the company has named IndiaONE for iPad combines both the iPhone apps and is available for $1.99. The company claims that the music streamed through the app is completely licensed and that the apps deliver a premium experience.
– IndiaOne offers various music streams which include Hindi and Tamil film music, a collection of various genres of Non film music such as Ghazals, Religious, Folk, Indipop, Lounge, and a Mood player that shuffles music based on the user’s mood, recordings of unplugged sessions of Indian musicians who have played at the Radio One studios and Bollywood stars who have presented their favourite songs in their own voices as played out in the Radio One stations, in addition to News from BBC World Service in 3 languages- English, Hindi & Tamil, and Live streams of Radio One Mumbai and Chennai.
-Issues: The app offers a simple interface with thumbnail buttons to access each channel. Although, the text in the app has not been optimized for the iPhone 4’s retina display and pixelates. The Film and Non Film channels allow users to search for their favourite tracks and add it to the playlist. However, there is no option to browse across categories and until the user starts keying in a letter in the search box, he would not see the amount of music available. This in our opinion is counter-intuitive, and there should be category-wise listing of the songs in the database, in addition to the search-box. Also there is no dedicated ‘Now Playing’ screen, so if one navigates away from a particular section to the main screen, there is no way to know what’s playing.
– The Mood player shuffles a collection of songs on the basis of the mood that it reflects across moods like Dance, Love, Easy Listening, Nostalgia, Sunrise and Fresh. This is an interesting implementation.
– MumbaiOne and ChennaiOne are live streams of Radio One stations from the two cities. We don’t know if the streams have been repurposed, since licensing restrictions, which are archaic, prevent radio broadcasts outside the licensed area. However, the streams did carry ad jingles and RJ talk. We like the retro style radio set controls!
We feel that Indian FM stations should be allowed to offer streams from all cities online. It’s absurd that one can listen to a New York or Dubai radio station via an app but can’t listen to another one broadcasting from an Indian city.
– Unplugged and Star’s Fav Songs sections essentially play recorded Radio One shows. The section does not offer controls to go forward or rewind within shows. There are controls to integrate social networks, Twitter and Facebook, however, even after authenticating a twitter account, we were not able to use the feature, and it returned an authentication error.
The KaraokeOne app claims to offer 1000 Bollywood songs with synchronized lyrics and quality back up music and support vocals. The app has a simple interface and the user gets a blank page with a search box to find and add them, similar to the IndiaOne music section. We tested 2-3 tracks and found tem to be accurate in terms of lyrics and instrumentation for amateur karaoke. According to the company, songs will be updated every 30-45 days. Strangely, there’s some reference to ‘subscriptions’ in the company statement, which we fail to understand, since the app does not seem to feature in-app purchases.
Overall, the app offered good quality music streaming on a 2Mbps Wifi connection. We just wish the interface is refreshed and made a little more intuitive in future releases. For instance, the app can offer category wise listings for songs across genres or time period, a now playing screen and controls for going backwards and forward within tracks. Users won’t mind paying for a quality app experience.