Internet Radio in the background on the iPhone

Posted: March 5, 2010 in Computing, General, iPhone, Movies/TV/Music

So we all know that the iPhone doesn’t allow 3rd party apps to run in the background. Push notification is a great solution (for battery life and even may even be a better solution than background processes for many apps). There are a few app ideas that we’ve had in the past that just don’t work well because of the lack of background processes.

There is one particular class of app that would suddenly become a lot more useful on the iPhone, internet radio. We have dedicated services like Pandora and Slacker, large internet radio stations pushing out 10 or 15 channels, and local stations who also stream online. Pandora and Slacker (among others) have iPhone apps, but as we all know you can only run the app in the foreground. If you want to make a phone call, check your email or surf the web, you are out of luck… or are you?

As of iPhone OS 3.0, Safari now is a background process. This means that if you start an audio stream through Safari, you can hit your home button and go on your merry way while the audio plays. It’s not a perfect solution but you can cross one more item off your list.

Unfortunately, only raw streams are supported, so Pandora and Slacker don’t work (since they use Flash and the infrastructure is different), but any regular radio station that streams MP3 audio will work. I recommend starting at to grab a stream.


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