I tried out StreamFurious today, a streaming audio app for Android that acts as a client for the popular SHOUTcast Internet radio streamer. It’s had a lot of coverage and praise from early-adopters on the Android Community, so I thought I should give it a try.
Unfortunately I wasn’t overly impressed. The default stations are mostly low bitrate and not really my style of music (the list is mainly composed of talk radio, sports, and American college radio stations). The G1 has Wifi, 3G, EDGE; all of which can easily handle a decent quality stream so I found it a bit odd that most channels are 64kb or lower. StreamFurious doesn’t have any filtering options: you can’t filter by bitrate, style, location; you can’t even save your favourite stations (although listening to a station found via the search does add it to your list). I started to long-press all those 32kb talk radio stations to delete them one-by-one but soon got bored of that: gimme some tunes!
I finally found a default station I thought I’d like (ETN.fm Ch1, 256kb stream), so I selected it then sat waiting for 1 minute 20 seconds while StreamFurious “prepared” me for the experience (i.e. it didn’t play any music). When it finally started, the amount of bytes transfered was displayed continuously – rather than any indication of what song’s playing – and the audio quality seemed well below what I had expected from a 256k stream.
Pressing Menu gives you the option to Refresh channels, send feedback, search Shoutcast, and a debug menu. I appreciate StreamFurious is still called an alpha release, but having a Debug button so prominently does not inspire confidence.
Pressing Search Shoutcast just takes you to the regular SHOUTcast website in the default browser. The SHOUTcast site does not cater for mobile browsers and is consequently quite difficult to navigate. I would hope that a future version of StreamFurious had its own G1-friendly navigator. (UPDATE: just received a Tweet from a StreamFurious developer who says: “better integrated shoutcast search is coming”)
The Android Community rate StreamFurious highly, but perhaps because many of them grew up using SHOUTcast and have grown to put up with its idiosyncrasies. SHOUTcast may have been the hippest way to stream music in the 1990s, but for me there are many better alternatives available now. Still, it does have the best ever name for any Android app.