I have three separate applications on my iPhone for streaming radio stations, and there are at least that many more out there. I know of two radio stations that stream online and are owned by a well-know corporation but aren't streamed through the company's app.

The solution is what I call the "iRadio," a solution that would bring the simplicity of iOS to streaming radio from all sources (terrestrial, satellite, and Internet). The solution would eliminate the need for the several separate applications that are currently available for streaming radio.

The iRadio, as a separate device, would essentially be an iPod touch without the iPod or the ability to add applications. It would also be an iOS application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. On those devices, the iRadio app would work in the background just like the iPod "app" does.

Features of the iRadio could include:

  • A master directory (maintained by Apple?) of radio station streams.
  • Browsing by location, format/genre, station nickname, and perhaps air personalities or carriers of syndicated shows.
  • Search by location, format/genre, station nickname, station call letters, and geolocative information (ZIP/postal codes, country/state/province, etc.)
  • Time-shifting capabilities: the ability to pause and resume streams; a programmable timer for recording streams and playing them later; etc. (I'm sure Apple can work out the licensing vagaries that would arise.)
  • The ability to use geolocation to find local stations.

On iOS devices:

  • Support for the ability to buy the currently-playing song on iTunes.
  • Support for the ability to subscribe to show podcasts.

I doubt that Apple could sell enough iRadio devices to justify having it as a separate product. But it should definitely be rolled into the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.