In the world of smartphone radio streaming apps, Aha Radio – an app specifically designed to work with your car – is a Renaissance man to Pandora’s one-trick pony. The app aims to simplify the user experience by placing a seemingly endless array of online content – from podcasts to your Twitter and Facebook feeds to streaming audiobooks – into one convenient package.
The app is free. If you have a compatible car, you can control it through the car's in-dash radio. For now, those are the 2013 Honda Accord and all 2013 Porsche models, with Subarus to be added soon. In addition, Acura has just announced that its 2014 RLX luxury sedan's cloud-based connected car system will use Aha. That car comes out in early 2013. If you don’t have a compatible car, you can still use Aha, but you’ll have to control it through your iPhone or Android.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can choose among literally thousands of available radio stations, including music, talk radio, sports, and news. Once you’ve selected a station as a preset, it will appear on your Aha home screen so you’ll never have to search for it again. You can also get real-time audio traffic reports and Yelp information about businesses, as shown at right in the picture above.
Aha has a couple of interesting features that distinguish it from its streaming-radio brethren. The one I was most excited about was the availability of streaming audiobooks through Podiobooks.com, but the selection leaves something to be desired. Since the app is free and the audiobooks come by way of podcasts, most of the books Podiobooks offers come from the public domain, and a few aren’t in English. I was hard pressed to find a book I would enjoy listening to, as the selection is limited, but you may find something that interests you.
Social Media You Can Listen to
Aha’s other claim to fame is that you can link it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and it will read those feeds aloud to you as they are updated (in a somewhat silly robot voice, no less). While I’ll admit that I would be unlikely to use this functionality – because, really, there’s nothing less interesting than a string of unrelated tweets read aloud –it does work well, and it will keep you from eyeing your Twitter feed behind the wheel, which is a goal we can all get behind.
Watch Those Data Charges
Of course, nothing this good is ever really free. The app doesn’t cost, and neither do its various streaming stations, but the first time I opened Aha after downloading it, I was greeted with a message warning me that frequent use of the app’s streaming functions could cause “higher data usage and possible overages.” So if you don’t have an unlimited data plan, I’d advise you to be mindful of the amount of content you stream.