Today, the Iconfactory is happy to introduce a product that’s made with three different apps: Triode. Simply put, it’s the best way to enjoy all of your favorite Internet radio stations, wherever you go.
So why did I make these apps?
A Brief History of Internet Radio
Before I can answer this question, it helps to know a bit about where I live. Laguna Beach is surrounded on three sides by a coastal range that blocks any broadcast from the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas. A signal’s only clear shot is from the Pacific Ocean, where there are no radio towers.
I moved to Laguna in the mid-1990’s — as you probably know, that was a time when the Internet was starting to take off.
Progressive and independent radio stations immediately saw the Internet as way to extend their reach: WXYC was the first station to broadcast a stream in 1994. Many others soon followed.
I saw it as a way to overcome the physical limitations of where I lived. And in the process, I discovered a lot of interesting sounds from all over the world.
In short, Internet radio is nothing new and I’ve been listening to it since the late 1990’s.
Old Meets New
What is new are the array of devices we can use to listen to radio streams. In the beginning, my only option was a desktop computer, but now I also carry a powerful device in my pocket and have another one attached to my TV.
These devices also have advanced capabilities like multi-room audio with AirPlay 2, a CarPlay interface while driving, automation with Siri shortcuts, and iCloud data syncing. They’re also highly accessible thanks to VoiceOver.
I saw an opportunity to do something better.
Always With Me
Early in 2018, Triode got its start on tvOS as a way to listen to music while relaxing on the couch. I loved that so much, I then wanted it while working on my Mac. Then, while out and about with my iPhone and AirPods. A simple idea was blossoming.
The challenge quickly became creating a unified experience across three different devices and input mechanisms. Building a user interface that worked natively with a TV remote, a mouse, and your finger was a challenge!
Overcoming this hurdle had a real benefit: it’s pretty awesome to find a great station on your Mac while you work, and have it automatically show up on your iPhone during a commute, or on your TV as you relax in the evening.
Early in the development process it became apparent that great artwork was an important part of the experience. Seeing a beautiful new album cover has always been essential part of discovering an artist or track. It became a central element of our unification effort.
This effort also helped refine my thoughts on the future of interaction on Apple’s platforms. And, as it turns out, SwiftUI.
A Place of Discovery
With the help of my colleagues, the user interface and interaction started shaping up. The task then became how to introduce folks to Internet radio.
Most existing players have another flaw: they promote quantity over quality. It sounds impressive to tout tens of thousands of stations — until you realize that a lot of them aren’t very good. Clearly, some curation was needed.
Over the years, I had accumulated a collection of favorite stations. This formed the core of the “Our Picks” in Triode.
While thinking about how to extend this group of stations, it became clear that they all had one thing in common: they were independent and listener-supported.
These stations have have long been a place to discover new music. They’re often associated with a college or university that has a student body looking for the latest and greatest. The lack of commercial pressures also provides an environment where new acts can get their first bread and established artists can do something unexpected.
Every major artist used to be someone you had never heard of, and Internet radio played a major part in that transformation.
That spirit guided our curation of “Our Picks”, while “Find a Station” provides quick access to thousands of stations from around the world. Both will become “Your Favorites” and automatically get synced to all your devices.
Privacy First Design
Last, but certainly not least, Triode was designed with your privacy in mind.
Unfortunately, today’s Internet is full of trackers. If you’re using a web-based stream or app, its likely that your listening habits and other metrics are being collected.
In Triode, the only information provided to broadcasters is your IP address. And since we don’t display any ads in the app, that’s one less thing for marketeers to know about you.
The Triode website has more details and this review at MacStories goes into great detail about how the app looks and works on the different platforms.
It’s been a blast making these apps — I hope you enjoy them!