Monday, March 15, 2010

How to listen to Radio Six International on a G1 Android Mobile phone or in the car

These instructions would also apply to any internet radio station that you have an m3u stream file for, just change the URL of the streaming file. It should also apply to any Android based mobile phone, not just the G1.

Setup
Firstly you will need to install a streaming application called Streamfurious from the Android Marketplace. You only need the free version, not the paid version. Streamfurious is set up to get a list of radio stations from Shoutcast, but I could not find Radio Six International in the Shoutcast system so I had to add it manually as follows:
  1. Open the Android web browser.
  2. Click on Menu > Bookmarks.
  3. Click on Add Bookmark.
  4. Type in the name box: Radio Six International - Stream (so you don't later think its a link to .the web site).
  5. Type in the location box: http://www.radiosix.com/stream_mp3.m3u
This should now appear in your web browser bookmarks.

Start listening
If Streamfurious was correctly installed it should be the default programme for any m3u files (but obviously not MP3 files). Clicking on the "Radio Six International - Stream" bookmark you just created should launch Streamfurious, buffer the stream and then play it. The audio comes through the speaker on the back of the phone not the telephone speaker. Volume is controlled using the G1 volume control on the side of the phone.

Stop listening
To stop the stream do not use the pause control as the download will not stop and you will eat up bandwidth, both for yourself and Radio Six!
Instead click Menu > More and then select Quit.

Adding an Icon to your Phone Home Page
Make sure you can see your default home page with all the icons on it (or select the left or right extension screens if the main one is full).
  1. Press the Menu button.
  2. Select Add > Shortcut > Bookmark
  3. Select the Radio Six International Bookmark you created earlier.
An Icon will be added to your home screen. Clicking on this will launch Radio Six International in Streamfurious.

Playing in the car
The audio output from the G1 phone is via the mini USB socket on the bottom of the phone. The same socket is used for connecting the charger. This type of charger socket is the new agreed standard for most new mobile phones.

My Mini has a 3.5mm auxiliary socket for plugging in an ipod which then appears on the "Aux" button on the car stereo. A lot of other cars have the same type of socket now, but the G1 phone does not have a 3.5mm socket. You will need to obtain a mini USB to 3.5mm adaptor lead (cheaply available from Ebay or Amazon). And plug this into a 3.5mm plug to 3.5mm plug audio lead.

Additional connecting possibilities
My Mini also has a USB socket (used for powering an ipod and controlling track selection from the in car audio system). The USB socket can be used to charge the G1 phone, but you would need to make a special lead which could charge the phone and allow the audio output to get to a 3.5mm plug. This would allow the phone to charge while it was being used to listen to Internet Radio.

[Update: Someone has beaten me to it. You can already buy such a cable.

From the product description on Ebay:


11 pin Mini USB to 3.5mm headphone Y splitter adapter cable

This high quality mini USB adapter is designed to allow you to use standard 3.5mm headphones via your mobile phone, and at the same time charge your phone via the the external USB port. This item is designed for use with HTC mobile phones.
This would still require a USB to mini USB lead to go from the adaptor to the Mini USB socket.]

The Mini also has a bluetooth interface for the phone which allows the phone memories and audio to be accessed through the car audio system. It might be possible to hijack this to get the audio transmitted via bluetooth rather than through the 3.5mm lead.

If you don't have an auxiliary connection
The only realistic option is to attach the phone to one of the miniature FM transmitters designed for MP3 players and tune it in on the car radio. Personally I think that would be a process too far. There would just be too much to set up and too many potential points of failure, but there is no reason why it shouldn't work.

Internet Radio on the move
This is the $64,000 question and I have not tried it enough to be able to give a firm opinion on how reliable it is. Its entirely dependent on network provider coverage. I use T-Mobile which is one of the worst coverages in my area. Vodafone or O2 would be better. I will give it a thorough road test and post the results. One thing which helps is that the Radio Six International m3u stream is at quite a low bitrate compared to other Internet radio stations so its likely to be more reliable.

Coverage Results
I listened on the drive in to Edinburgh from Livingston. I only have 2G coverage at my house and the stream played perfectly. On the way in I had two forced application closes. This is a common problem with Android applications. Both may have been due to buffering problems but I could not monitor that while I was driving. Both the closes were quite early on and in bad coverage areas. Once I was nearer the city it was fine all the way in. This will need further investigation.

Other Uses
Switching the G1 phone to wifi and using it in the house allows listening to the stream on earphones without using any mobile phone bandwidth. The phone can also be plugged into the hi-fi amplifier, allowing listening with no need for a computer.

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