Think of it as radio plus.
Rather than having providers stream music into cars through apps, car stereos and in-dash entertainment systems, which I wrote about in last weekend’s New York Times Automobiles section, Aha Mobile’s iPhone app bundles several driver-oriented services together. There’s local traffic (via Inrix), which sounds like a homily of nearby congestion and accident warnings. There are prerecorded podcasts from stations like Fox News Radio and NPR. There are comedy clips, and there’s even an application that will read your Facebook friends’ postings aloud. But what makes this software truly notable is one of the most peculiar car-oriented programs I’ve ever heard and one of the best examples of what an Internet-connected car radio can do.
The program, called Caraoke, lets Aha users record 15-second audio clips from behind the wheel as they sing along to their favorite songs. Then they share those clips with the entire universe of Aha users. The result is a bottomless jukebox of some of the worst, and funniest, caterwauling you’ve ever heard.
“It does tend to sound like the American Idol bloopers reel,” admits Robert Acker, chief executive of Aha Mobile, who also refers to the program as a “community-only content channel.” But even calling it “audio Twitter” or CB radio on steroids does not do it justice.
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