In the absence of any innovative new streaming component for iTunes (which many were expecting from Steve Jobs' keynote at WWDC), I am quickly falling in love with Snowtape, an app for the iPhone created by Vemedio. Snowtape streams Internet radio to the iPhone and then allows users to record and save songs from the broadcast.
I was skeptical upon downloading Snowtape, which sells for $1.99 at the App Store. There are enough streaming radio apps out there to start a new category in iTunes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Snowtape is a unique take on Internet radio that works quite well as a sophisticated system for music discovery. Equally impressive was its slick online component.
There's nothing more frustrating than hearing a song you like on Internet radio and being unable to write down the title or artist while you're driving down the road at 65 miles per hour. With Snowtape, you don't have to write it down or remember it, because this app records every track. When you arrive at your destination, you can throw out the ones you didn't like and save those you do to your favorite recordings folder. Snowtape will also automatically search the Internet for album covers and drop them into the track listing in your record folder. Recording works best with radio stations that broadcast the name of the song with the track, which allows the app to separate individual songs rather than recording in one long block of music.
The interface is easy to use and there's an ample selection of Internet radio stations from which to choose. Users can listen to more than 700 stations from all over the world. When's the last time you listened to radio being broadcast out of Kingston, Jamaica, or techno being blasted out of Moscow? An app like Snowtape makes pay services like Sirius and XM seem unnecessary and over-priced.
The online component to the app is a well done Web-based client that allows users to organize their favorites, edit recordings, share stations and songs with friends and export recordings directly to iTunes in the form of AAC or MP3 files. Unfortunately, the online client costs $29.99 to download from the company's website. Still, I think it's worth the money.
After using Snowtape for awhile, I began to wonder why iTunes doesn't add this functionality directly to its Radio section. If anything, I would think that the ability to record songs from Internet radio would promote music discovery and prompt users to buy more music from iTunes as they discover new artists and albums.
If the app and online component aren't enough, Vemedio has outdone itself with a 99-cent remote control app for Snowtape. The remote app finds any Snowtape systems on the user's Wi-Fi network and syncs them so that the user can control even a desktop's Internet radio from their iPhone.
There's very little that I was disappointed with here. Snowtape's execution of this Internet radio application for the iPhone is truly impressive. I'm rather surprised that Apple hasn't gobbled up Vemedio (a la Lala) already for all the functionality it has to offer iTunes.