Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Look At the SiriusXM Streaming App, Is It Worth It?

It took me a long time to break down and subscribe to the online content feed for SiriusXM.  I was adverse to it because I felt like this was something that should be included in our services that we already pay for.  But I was curious enough.

I finally broke down and forked over the extra monthly cash to receive the SiriusXM streaming package.  This allows one to get most but not all content over the web, via a web browser on your PC or a streaming app on your smarthphone.

And it's definitely "most" of, but not all content.

I love the new freedom of access this new package has.  I truly do.  I love being able to walk to work and listen to The Morning Drive.  I love sitting in my office at work and listen to the rest of the day's NASCAR content on Channel 90 of SiriusXM.

I Love it.  But...
There are a few issues that have been irking the living ...  "irk" out of me.

The app updates itself, and unlike every other app on my phone, you don't seem to have an option of when it will update.  It just does it.  When I'm pulling up my app, I hate the time it takes to download updates and other such things.  I want control over when an app updates itself so when I turn it on, it comes on.

I was once in a huge hurry and brought up Google Maps... and sure enough, while I'm in this huge rush, I was out of my maps app for about 10 minutes.  Grr.  Bad day, that's for sure because most of the time updates only take a few at best.

I have also noticed that after it updates itself, I find myself needing to "tune" into the one channel I always listen to.  At least the early updates were like that.  Not fond of that function.

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Up Time?

On a few occassions, I've found the app down and it impacted everyone who has the app.  After only a few months and two outages, that seems excessive.  (I'm still waiting for my partial rebate/refund for the time I could not access the product I pay for.)

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Channel Numbers are not in our grasp
If you know the channel number you want to go to, good luck!  The app does not have channel numbers.  If you need to go find your NASCAR SiriusXM channel, you have to look up sports (category), then scroll until you find what you're looking for.  That seems to be a short coming. (At least at the time of this article publication date of 10/10/12)

I did spend an afternoon cruising the menus and I've set some favorite channels so that I don't need to do the scrolling dance.  That's helped there.  But if you like many channels, well, I'm not sure what to say.

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Exit Time Is a Challenge

As far as exiting the app, again, it's a bit cumbersome.

Most apps are quick to close/exit but the SiriusXM app requires you to muck with the control bar at the bottom of the screen, slide over to settings, then choose exit from the settings screen.

Exit should not be a settig and exiting an app should not be a multi-step process.

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Idle Time

I can't decide if this is a good or bad feature, but after 90 minutes or 2 hours (I haven't timed it yet), the app shuts down, with a pop-up, stating something about inactivity and requesting you to acknowledge additional streaming or not.

This seems annoying... I like settling in and listening.  But I can see where if someone forgot to disengage the app, where this could be useful.

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Limited Content

Almost all the content is on the streaming app.  But I've found a few times where the content is not available.  For NASCAR, they have "driver2crew" channels each weekend.  THOSE ARE NOT available on the app.

And I presume that there's other content not available.

But on the other hand, you can get online on the website and find the replays of shows you like and stream them later.  Or when listening to content live, you can actually back up the reception and listen to delayed content.

It's OK in these and a few other regards.

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Online Support?  Sure!

If you do run into an issue, there's a Twitter account manned by some eager folks who hover over the timeline of the account.  It is SXM_Help on Twitter and they are pretty responsive.  At least every time I've mentioned something to them, they've engaged me within a few hours of my posting.

They've even seen one of my random lobs out into Twitter-space that was directed at no one about the app and they've come calling, asking me what's up.

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In Closing

I hate to say it, but even though I'm opposed to this extra fee, it's a pretty neat package when you have access to a smartphone or a computer.  I don't recommend listening at work.  Bandwidth gets noticed by bosses and that could get you in trouble, depending on your company.  A friend of mine once worked at a place that blocked each site she visited, once she visited it more than once.  It was weird and very ...  (I don't have a good word for it.).

So if you have the bucks, go for it.  I think you'll enjoy tooling down the street  listening to your SiriusXM Satellite content.  You won't need to be in plain view of any satellite and coverage is as good as your cell's network coverage is.
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