My pal Alexa

The Countess and I are sorting out our technology choices, and experiencing the crossfire among Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Roku, among others.

Countess has been getting comfortable with the Amazon Fire 8 HD tablet I bought last year. It is lighter than her laptop and the batteries last much longer. However, it lives outside the Apple iFortress.

We were “that close” to ordering an Amazon Echo – as the app on the device seemed to be doing most things she wanted it to do. “Play Mack the Knife” and it started playing, listen to WFAE and it started up in the Tunein App. Then we pushed a little harder – only then realizing that Alexa was playing only 30 second clips of songs, that only unlock with the Music unlimited account. It wasn’t the issue of paying for music as much as the deception that bothered me.

Then we learned just how bad the integration with Tunein and iHeartRadio is. Others have pointed out how inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable Tunein is – something I avoided commenting on while I was nominally a competitor. Asking iHeartRadio to play classic country music just gave me a classic soul station. There was nothing in the iHeartRadio Android app to even tell me the call sign or a link to visit the station website it had selected.

I have the impression that newer cars come with this junk loaded into the entertainment console. Some people probably wish their old 8 track player had Bluetooth capability…

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7 Responses to My pal Alexa

  1. Parrott says:

    >”Then we learned just how bad the integration with Tunein and iHeartRadio is. Others have pointed out how inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable Tunein is “<

    Oh hell yeah. There was nothing more accurate and useful as SRG ! seriously man.
    I have a stupid iPhone, which my company purchased so they can get a hold of me.
    It is super annoying trying to run any streaming radio on it. I always avoided Iheart stations.
    I just use the computer, with VLC. If it won't run VLC I move on toanother station till I find one,

    • Fred Stiening says:

      There is a $5 solution to this. Get the ootunes app, and in your SRG preferences, enable ootunes support. The author of ootunes does many clever things to get streams to play. A growing number of stations have native support. One streaming company with about 1200 stations tries to get you to download an app, but it isn’t necessary. After dismissing the download suggestion, it offers up a stream that plays natively.

      • countess robini says:

        we got a tv! we got a tv! oh, yay — we got a tv!

        fred hasn’t had a working one since xxxxxx i haven’t had one for about 10 years.

        we are keeping a list of things we’ve never done and working through the list together. one thing on the list was to watch a bollywood movie. fred found a great one (three hours long) and we watched it. in the process, we found a terrific indian actor and read up on him — and then watched a second movie he’d made decades ago. life at schloss stiening is good.

        • CC1s121LrBGT says:

          Consider a trial subscription to Netflix if you haven’t already. The 30 day trial is free and you can watch 24/7. They don’t have every TV show and every movie, but many more than you can watch in 30 days. Hulu and other services are good.

          Youtube also has a TV service that is a better deal than cable, especially if you travel.

          Don’t forget to turn off the TV and think radio streams once in while! šŸ˜‰

        • Parrott says:

          Gosh, you two are so radical : )


  2. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    I have not used the Amazon, Apple, or recent Ruku devices but have extensive experience with iHeart and Tunein both on Android and on a PC Browser. Both of those apps generally have a “preroll” commercial before the requested stream starts. That can be tolerable if you listen to one station 24/7 but not if you like to change stations to avoid the broadcaster’s commercials.

    I generally listen to just half a dozen stations and found the best option for me is to drive the build in Android audio player with a combination of three apps that work together: Tasker, Intent-Radio, and Shorty.

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