They say that cars now possess more computing power than the first space shuttles that made it through our atmosphere, meanwhile our smartphones have assimilated more functions than practically any other electronic device we’ve ever owned, so naturally a fusion of the two makes perfect sense and that’s what Aha Radio hopes to achieve.
The application itself might not change the way we interface with our cars on its own, but it’s an early indication of the closer ties between mobile and in-car services. Audio automotive masters Harman are no stranger to the concept of in-car radio and they’ve developed Aha Radio as both an app for your smartphone and a service for your car’s infotainment system.
We were invited to their R&D centre in Munich to see what the service offers users and how it integrates into both smartphone and car.
The application, which is free to download for iOS and Android, features over 30,000 radio stations (going up to 50,000 by the year’s end) organised not only by genres like ‘news’ and music, but the likes of popular podcasts are also on offer. What’s more, as the service operates of a mobile data network you can also get real-time traffic information and even text-to-speech feedback of your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
Once you’ve downloaded the app and selected the types of content you want to listen to, the service syncs with the cloud and saves your preferences. Moving to the car, the infotainment system features an addition tab alongside ‘RADIO’ and ‘NAV’ called ‘aha’. The Aha tab gives the driver or passenger access to the content selected from the smartphone app and livestreams it directly through the in-car stereo.
Harman who provide the service have been able to keep it free using advertising, but are also pushing the technology out to other manufactures of both cars and in-car systems. The likes of Pioneer and Alpine are also likely going to feature Aha Radio in future products, as well as being able to see it appear in a broader spectrum of cars.