By August 1, 2009

Sirius XM app for iPhone – review

The bottom line is: this app sucks. Do not buy it!

The official name of this app is "SIRIUS XM Premium Online" and indeed it reflects what it is: it is app that gives access to Sirius XM but only if you own "Premium" subscription, i.e. Sirius XM is extorting money from subscribers who can listen to it over Internet on personal computers without any additional fee, but to listen to it on iPhone – they need to pay.

We have so called "lifetime subscription" to Sirius – purchased for several hundreds dollars many years ago, when Sirius was just starting, and such that no monthly fee is collected. In other words: we have bankrolled Sirius when it was launching! And even we don’t have access to this Sirius app but to use it we would have to pay.

Indeed the bottom line is that this app sucks on many levels (see also below for detailed review and rationale) and the fact that it is not free for regular subscribers is disgusting. Do not buy premium service to use this app – it is not worth it!

For people who don’t know what Sirius XM is, here is short description: terrestrial radio (like FM, AM, HD, etc) in USA is governed by FCC so that nothing offensive can be said on it. Satellite radio has none of these limitations because it is accessible only for paid subscribers. In other words: on satellite radio in USA one can hear stuff that otherwise would be construed as libel, racism, etc. Furthermore previously there were 2 competing satellite systems – Sirius and XM – but due to bad financial results they have merged (or are in process of merging) into one. Sirius particularly got famous because it has paid 400 million dollars to Howard Stern for 4 years of exclusivity. Howard Stern got famous because he was telling offensive stuff on FM radio so FCC was stopping him and he considers himself to be a big fighter for freedom of speech, but in reality his show is shallow (mainly about strippers and sex) and full of racism (after he married Polish-American woman he stopped telling Polish jokes but still he keeps being offensive to various ethnicities). Whether you like Howard Stern or not it is worthwhile to drop by to that show, for example to hear "what’s in the news, Robin?" section, but users of iPhone cannot do it: there is no Howard Stern channels on this app at all! Obviously still there are tens over tens of channels with talk radio (with advertisements even though you pay monthly fee for service!) and music (fortunately without advertisements) but lack of Howard Stern makes buying of this premium service to get this app – pointless. We think that Howard Stern simply demanded more money for allowing his content on iPhone and Sirius XM does not have this money as it is not doing that well in the era of free content and after all Sirius already squandered 400 million dollars on Howard Stern…

Another distinctive feature of Sirius XM satellite radio is that unlike satellite radio in Europe where you need to have a fixed satellite dish and it is unusable in cars, there are satellite radio receivers for cars and pedestrians. In other words: one can drive from east coast of USA to the west coast and one can listen one and the same channel whole time!

Fortunately there is 7-day trial of the premium service so that everybody can try this app out and so we have tried it to review it for you:

As you can see the lineup of channels is updating at start-up so we hope that more channels, notably 2 channels of Howard Stern will be added in future too.

Users can browse channels by category:

… or in a list view:

The channel line-up is quite impressive and covers both talk radio and music:

While listening, users can see what is currently running on given channel (here: Jay Thomas Show):

… or what song is playing (here: something from trance progressive house genre):

Theoretically it should be possible to buy music, that you hear through this app, from iTunes:

… but we have tested it with many songs and never we were able to purchase a song on iTunes with this app:

We have no idea what "Hide Blocked Channels" feature is about as we didn’t not notice any difference after switching it off:

The only nice feature is favorites what may be useful considering that there is tens over tens of channels on Sirius:

Another very annoying thing about this iPhone app is, that after some time (roughly one hour) this app stops playing and this message appears:

It is the same behaviour as in Internet Sirius player for personal computers (a small web app plus Internet stream) but it makes it impossible to put iPhone or iPod touch into cradle and use it as long-term radio receiver. Imagine that you are in romantic situation and you listen to Sirius Love channel and all of a sudden the app stops playing and asks "are you still listening"! This is pathetic.

Despite the fact that Sirius Internet radio service is available for customers overseas, this app is only in American app store, but not in European ones for example. This is pure idiocy too!

Conclusion: this Sirius XM app suck on many levels – demanding additional money from existing customers, missing 2 Howard Stern channels (that apart Howard include also some other presenters, notably Jay Thomas on Friday), timing out after some time, no ability to buy songs that are played on music channels. It is outrageous that Sirius XM does not deliver an app that would enable listening for regular customers – without having to pay premium. However since Sirius XM sent lawyers against app makers who tried to make independent Sirius XM apps, if you need to listen to Sirius XM on the go on your iPhone, then you will have to buy this app.

Unless Sirius XM will release an app for iPhone available also for regular customers, without the need to pay premium, Sirius XM deserves to go bankrupt… what is very likely anyway as Howard Stern is leaving it soon.

Get it here (price: FREE, but to use it you need to pay monthly fee):

* * * * *

Apart from iPhone, you might be interested also in Windows Mobile phones!

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Post a Comment

No Trackbacks.