If you’re a Sirius or XM satellite radio subscriber, you may already know what’s coming, but even if you don’t, or even if you’re thinking about signing up, new features and service expansion might sweeten the deal. The new features bring in Internet connectivity into the mix, and make it more possible than ever to listen to content you may have missed.
The new services go live today, including new apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Plus, the Premier add-on packages are being offered too. These are the Canadian version of “Best Of” offered in the U.S., which basically give you the exclusive channels the other provider has (depending on who your subscription is with). In the case of being with XM, you can now get Howard Stern, NFL, Martha Stewart and Playboy. As a Sirius subscriber, you would get the NHL, MLB, NBA, PGA, Opie and Anthony and Oprah.
This pretty much finalizes the merger between the two in Canada as far as consumers go. And while it’s great to finally have all that content under one subscription — at the cost of an extra $4.00 per month — the other features they’ve added to the apps make it cool to listen to programming that way at home or on the go. There’s also a revamped browser-based online player that you can listen to as well. Access to the online player covering your computer, smartphone and tablet is also an extra $4.00 per month on top of your subscription.
Signing up to the Internet player is the only way you can get these useful features:
Start Now lets you go back and scrub through up to five hours of previously broadcast programming on a number of channels as part of its new On Demand service. This means access to over 200 shows spanning a range of content. As you scrub along, you will see the name of the show, segment or song title that came on in that time. Tap what you want to listen to and it will go to that part.
With TuneStart, you will automatically go to the beginning of the song currently playing no matter how far it’s progressed. You can also pause live radio whenever you want.
Show Finder is basically a seven-day programming guide with a list of what's playing over that time on any channel. If there’s anything that interests you, set a reminder so that it tells you when it comes on. You will also get the ability to record content onto the computer, phone or tablet as well, but the downside is that this won’t apply to music that SiriusXM has no ownership of. The best part is that you can listen to these offline since they’re stored on the device. Just note that recordings will only last 30 days before they automatically erase themselves.
Visually, expect a very different look with album art, artist bios and cleaner polish all around. Audio quality is also said to have improved, though that’s subjective, so I can’t say for sure that everyone will agree. Streaming over 3G and LTE is also supposed to be much easier (so far, they’re right).
Not much to report on hardware, except for the Lynx, which will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in to work in the home as much as in the car. It will also have PVR capabilities to record stuff to listen to offline, just like the apps do. I’ll review the Lynx here on the Tech Blog when it’s set to launch.
But for now, if you are a subscriber and you pay a few extra dollars, you can at least listen to the stuff you like most almost anywhere you happen to be.
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