Radio is a free alternative to streaming music subscription services and there are numerous apps for smartphones that enable you to tune in a listen to great music. Simple Radio and Orange Radio are two competitors. Which is best?

Radio is over 100 years old and has been around since before 1900. However, it wasn’t popular as a source of music until some time later and it really took off when the transistor radio was invented by Texas Instruments in the mid-1950s. 

Physical radios are still popular, at least in our cars, and radio stations still broadcast over AM and FM frequencies, but there has been a definite shift towards internet streaming to special internet radios and also to mobile devices. Many radio stations both broadcast and stream and you can listen with a radio over the airwaves or play a stream over the internet.

The attraction of streaming radio is that there is a wide choice of sources and there are thousands of stations covering all genres and they are all free. The downside is that you cannot choose what to listen to, unlike streaming music services such as Spotify and others, which lets you create playlists.

Here are two popular Android apps, selected from the many that are on offer, that let you tune in and listen to streaming radio services on your Android mobile phone or tablet.

Simple Radio by Streema

This app certainly lives up to its name and it is hard to see how it could be simpler. Being simple isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it does have certain advantages and after five minutes use you will be an expert.

There are only three screens and the first one you will use is the search facility. There isn’t a list of stations, countries, music genres or anything else, just a search tool. You can enter anything that might be associated with the music you want, such as the station name, a city name, a country, a genre, or even a frequency if it is a traditional broadcaster too.

The radio stations matching the search are displayed and tapping one goes to the next screen where there are just three buttons. One starts it playing, one adds it to your favourites (the third screen), and the third is a sleep timer that switches it off after a certain length of time. This is useful for falling asleep to music at night, although there is a small in-app payment for this (£1.28 in the UK).

Simple Radio app for Android  Simple Radio audio app

So you have favourites, search and play screens, and that’s it. A super simple radio player that provides access to 25,000+ internet radio stations.

This is a great app and the only missing feature is a description of what is playing. It would be nice to know what track is currently playing.

Orange Radio

There is much more in Orange Radio and the home screen has two views. There is a choice of tiles or list. I am in the UK and the home screen shows popular UK radio stations.

Presumably it will default to showing US or wherever you are in the world because if you go to the Browse screen and tap the Filter button you can select the continent and the country. This can be used to browse the internet radio stations anywhere in the world. There are 15,000 in its library.

The search facility is interesting and you can search for station names, genres, locations, and so on – anything that might appear in the name or description. It does not just list stations though, it also displays shows and episodes.

Shows and episodes are basically podcasts and downloadable radio shows, so Orange Radio is part streaming radio player and part podcast player. It is not as good as a dedicated podcast app, but it can be useful to catch up on shows you have missed, if the station provides them. It’s like a radio version of a catch-up TV service.

Orand Radio audio app  Orange Radio for Android

Orange Radio has a home screen with popular stations, a browser and search facility, favourites, downloads and recents. When you play a station there is a useful information screen (not the currently playing track though), and suggestions for similar radio stations you might like.

There are links to the station’s website (sometimes it has the current track and artist information), Twitter and Facebook pages. There is an alarm facility and a sleep timer.

Which radio Android app is best?

Simple Radio is good, but is just a bit too simple for me. It works fine, but I prefer the extra features of Orange Radio. This is an excellent internet radio player with great features. It appears to be ad-free and has no in-app-purchases. It just works.

Title: Orange Radio 
Price: Free
Developer: Orange Horizons  
Size: 14 MB
Version: 2.2.1
Android: 4.0 and up
Title: Simple Radio by Streema  
Price: Free
Developer: Streema, Inc.
Size: 4.3 MB
Version: 1.0.1
Android: 4.0 and up