Thanks to Lifewire and their article about how listening to internet radio in your car may be easier than you thought!
How to Listen to Internet Radio in Your Car
Internet radio may not have received a lot of press until services like Pandora rolled out, but the medium has actually been around, in one form or another, for a pretty long time. The first traditional radio stations started experimenting with Internet streaming in the early 1990s, the now-maligned pioneer of streaming media, RealAudio, showed up on the scene in 1995, and programs like NullSoft’s Winamp allowed anyone with a decent Internet connection to create their own virtual radio station by the late 1990s.
Of course, throughout most of the history of Internet radio, tuning in meant chaining yourself to your computer—or a WiFi-enabled Internet radio device, if you were so inclined. It wasn’t until the rise of the smartphone, and developments in the cellular infrastructure that allowed high-speed mobile Internet connections, that listening to Internet radio on the go really became a thing. With those pieces in place, there are now a variety of different ways you can ditch traditional radio—or your Satellite radio subscription—and listen to Internet radio in your car. And when you do, you’ll find that the listening options that open up are pretty much endless.
Required Equipment for Listening to Internet Radio in Your Car
Listening to traditional AM/FM radio, or even HD radio is about as simple as it gets.
At a very basic level, there are two things that you’ll need if you want to listen to Internet radio in your car: a mobile Internet connection and a device that’s capable of accessing Internet radio content. As you may have guessed, modern smartphones provide a great way to listen to Internet radio on the road, since they combine both of those functionalities into a single, portable package that you’re probably already carrying around with you anyway.
Aside from a smartphone, you can also access Internet radio in your car via a head unit that includes Internet radio functionality and a separate mobile hotspot, or a tethered phone, which is sometimes an option. Some cars actually come with OEM head units that can access Internet radio and built-in WiFi hotspots that can also share a connection to your other devices.
Listening to Internet Radio in Your Car With a Smartphone
If you have a smartphone with a decent data plan, then that’s probably going to be easiest, least expensive way to bring Internet radio into your car. And if you already have some way of connecting your phone to your head unit, then that’s even better—all you have to do is connect the phone as you would normally, download the appropriate Internet radio app, and you’re good to go.
Locating Internet Radio Apps
The best, and easiest, way to listen to Internet radio on your phone, and in your car, is via the appropriate app. Some Internet radio services that offer apps include:
- Slacker Radio
- TuneIn Radio
Some Internet radio apps, like TuneIn, act as aggregators that provide access to simulcast streams of physical AM and FM stations, while others allow you to create your own, customized stations based on your preferences, and others, like Pandora, use complex algorithms to generate custom stations based on how you rate individual songs that pop up.
Using a Head Unit to Listen to Internet Radio
In addition to smartphone apps, some head units come with built-in radio apps or allow you to install radio apps, that provide access to many of those same services. If your OEM head unit came with that functionality, then all you need to do is add an Internet connection, in the form of tethering your phone or obtaining a mobile hotspot. Other cars actually come with built-in mobile hotspots, which you may have to pay to activate.