Sirius XM is a radio subscription service which provides most of their content commercial free. You have most likely have seen a Sirius XM enabled radio in a car and might even already be a subscriber, but did you know Sirius XM is also available on iOS?
The Sirius XM app for iOS enables subscribers to keep jamming or listen to their favorite talk show while not in the car. Using the service through the app does include some extra features, including being able to listen to shows on demand, pausing events, songs or shows, and starting at the beginning of a song when tuning to a station with TuneStart. Read on to see if including Sirius XM Internet streaming is right for you.
The Listening Experience
Once an initial channel download has occurred, you will be able to start streaming some music goodness. If you are not on Wi-Fi, a notification will appear stating the app is very data intensive. To test just how intensive the app actually is, I performed two 30 minute listening tests using Dataman. Both tests received similar results, using a little over 36 MB of data during the sessions. While this is probably not too much to worry about for unlimited data users or even users with 2 GB data plans, individuals with smaller allocations of data should be aware that it would not take long to bust through most of their data with a lengthy jam session.
When first clicking on a channel you might notice a feature which will make listening to Sirius XM stand out more than just listening in your car — the song will start from the beginning with TuneStart. While the theory is good, it can be misleading by sometimes showing a different song when browsing through stations. For example, in the screenshot below, I clicked on the RockBar channel expecting to hear “Rush” by Tom Sawyer but apparently just missed it and ended up hearing “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters.
There are good instances of it working well. One example that I was really impressed by the seamless experience was that I really liked the song on the radio on Alt Nation on my way home one day. The song was going off the radio as soon as I made it home. I fired up the app and with the slight delay that the internet streams experience I was able to start listening before the song ended, and then the song started at the beginning for my full enjoyment. I enjoyed the song again, noted the artist and purchased it through iTunes. Again, it seems that the idea is good, but the execution can be hit or miss at times.
The design of the app is anything but typical. The only stock in-design features in the app are the buttons, which scroll across the bottom of the app for navigation. The color choices are bold, along with some crazy font choices which makes it hard to read some content including the channel names. What makes it even harder to read is that some of the graphics are not updated for the Retina display on the new iPad. I believe we are past the grace period for these pixelated channel names, right?
A blue background is consistent through the app to show off either the album artwork or the description about the artist. Controls present include the ability to bookmark a show or song. Tagging a song will send it to a list within the application settings. This allows a user to be able to purchase the song through iTunes later if they rather not interrupt their current listening experience. Pressing the grid icon reveals several options to add the channel or the show to favorites, as well as adding show alerts. If you have set a show alert to be active, whenever your favorite show is set to air an alert will pop up letting you know it is time to tune in.
The app supports pausing a live radio stream, allowing you to pause a channel for up to five hours. That said, when a show or song is paused you cannot navigate to another channel or you will lose the saved state of the current channel. Do not worry, most likely you will forget and attempt to navigate to another channel while the current one is paused. The app will display a notification to inform you of the saved state and ask again to make sure you want to leave the current channel.
Sirius XM does not just support pausing a live radio stream it also supports on demand shows. These can include count-down shows such as the Alt–18 weekly countdown, talk-shows and special programming such as live shows. Browsing the on demand catalog reveals there is a lot of content available.
If you do not have Sirius XM or have it in your car and would like to try the internet streaming for free, Sirius XM does offer a free trial at their site. You will be forced to give a credit card to sign up but you will not be charged until after the 30 day trial if you decide to keep it.
I enjoy Sirius XM very much in my car. I have only started to use it over the past three months, but there is a lot of content out there. I also like their business model with no or limited advertising in order to just deliver content. Overall, the app works and does what it is supposed to do, but I would not call it a joy to use. I would like to see something better than the static interface. I believe the Spotify app has really spoiled some users on its’ unique design characteristics.
Sirius XM has been fun to use and it was nice when I could keep listening while outside my car, but the overall app experience did not encourage me to keep my trial going past the 30-day mark. Again, the app works and I never experienced any hiccups that prevented me from listening to my music but it did not increase the level of the experience enough to justify the extra price. Maybe with some re-write of some code it can make the consumption of your favorite music or talk-show a better experience again.