Imagine this scenario: you’re cruising down the highway and all of the sudden there is a sea of brake lights up ahead. Your navigation app tells you to expect a 30-minute delay. It’s probably some sort of traffic accident, but what happened? A minute later a lit-up ambulance and firetruck drive by in the shoulder past all the stopped cars ahead and out of sight. What’s going on? Is everyone OK? Now imagine you pull up an app in your vehicle that allows you to listen in on Police and Fire Department personnel radio communications. The app even gives you a cheat sheet of radio codes to help you decipher the 10-codes that are flying back and forth. Now you’re in the know.
That’s what this post is all about, getting in the know with what’s happening around you and around the world with Police scanners. Specifically, those available on the Google Play Store, and of course, fully functional on your Insane Audio product. Informational and entertaining, these scanner apps let you tap into radio feeds that provide an inside ear into what’s going on, all over that world. Due to the connected nature of these scanner apps, they do all require that you connect your unit to a Wi-Fi network or personal hotspot.
With this sea of live communication information available, where do you start? Well, helping you answer that question with confidence is how Scanner Radio made it to the top of our list. Their smart categorization lets you choose from Top 50, Nearby, and New Additions to get you started. You also have the option to browse feeds from all over the world by Area, Genre or Source. Or go straight to the action with Broadcastify Alerts section that list feeds with active working major incidents.
Once you find a feed you like, whether it’s a nearby Police stream or an active aviation feed from a major metro area, you can add it to your list of Favorites by tapping the “star” icon for quick future access. One of the coolest feature of this app is the option to receive notifications from the app when a feed reaches over 3500 listeners to give you a heads up when something big is happening.
A handful of widgets that give home screen access to your favorite feeds are also included. It’s worth mentioning that this is the only app that we reviewed that includes widgets. All these features, plus a built-in equalizer, night mode, a list of radio codes (call your buddy a 10-96 if he’s acting like a mental subject) and a super clean, user friendly interface made Scanner Radio our favorite by far, and get this, it’s free.
All the feeds are rebroadcast by volunteers, so let’s hear it for crowdsourcing! For $2.99, the pro edition lets you record streams for playback and sharing.
The next scanner app we’re reviewing here, the aptly named Police Scanner, offers the same core functionality as Scanner Radio, minus a lot of the exciting extras and the exceptional interface.
You can still create a list of favorite streams and the stream categorization is good, but the interface isn’t optimal for our products because it lacks proper responsiveness for landscape mode. This means that icons and list items are oversized to the point where only one or two are visible at a time. That being said, it’s still a decent app and the categories page lets you explore the following options: Public Safety, Aviation, Rail, Amateur Radio, Marine, Special Event, Disaster, and Other.
Broadcastify boasts being the world's largest source of public safety, aircraft, rail, and marine radio live audio streams. And from what we saw and heard in their app, they’re not kidding. With over 6500 live feeds and a Global Feed Catalog, you can explore all kinds of things, from what’s going on with the Auckland Fire Dispatch to listening in on some amateur radio banter on the Los Angeles Renegade Repeater feed.
And if you really find yourself getting into the scanner community and want to contribute, you can sign up for free to become a broadcaster. This gives you a free premium subscription and a huge, instant audience for your feed. They also provide a software package and all kinds of resources to get you started.
To finish things off, we have Scanner 911. This app is not quite as feature rich as some of the other scanner apps we reviewed, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If you want a super simple app to check out nearby feeds and you’re not interested in browsing different categories of feeds or getting major event alerts, this might be the scanner app for you.
While it might not be immediately apparent from the two main headings “Nearby” and “Recent” you do get the ability to search for feeds in other areas beyond your current location. Swiping down on the Nearby feeds list gives you a search box to input whatever location you’re interested in. You also get a built-in equalizer, sleep timer, and a night mode for less strain on the eyes. Clean, simple and straight-forward.
We had a lot of fun listening in on communications from public agencies and other folks from all over the world with these scanner apps. We heard Fire Departments coordinating to fight wild(grass)fires in near Oklahoma City, Portland Police officers being notified of suspicious weapon-wielding persons roaming around interstate on-ramps, and amateur radio fans discussing 80’s rock bands. It’s kind of like reality TV in audio format, without all the fake scripted BS.
Whether you’re tuning in to get the inside scoop on a nearby traffic incident or just curious about what’s going on out there in this crazy world of ours, install these apps on your Insane Audio product to keep yourself informed and entertained wherever the road or trail takes you!
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