The 5-0 Radio Pro Mobile App
Reviewed by Mark Donovan
I'm not quite the FireGeezer's age, but we both share the same "I could care less" about all these new electronic gadgets and gizmos. That being said, I recently gave up my Blackberry and bought an iPhone 5 (the original that Apple discounted when the latest one came out) and I found a couple of great apps.
5-0 RADIO PRO
The first has to be the "best-ever" for those of us who, in the past, seemed to be joined at the hip to our Minitor or scanner. This is the penultimate on-line public safety scanner, called the 5-0 Radio Pro. Just as a background, it was written by a young man who came to this country with nothing but a computer science degree. Living in his mother's basement, he taught himself how to write apps and today he drives a rare azure blue Lamborghini Aventador (MSRP $393,000), having become a multi-millionaire before he turned 25. It very quickly became one of the top downloaded apps on-line. Shortly after release, in one day, 50,000 downloaded it; the next day, 80,000. Not long after, the app was being downloaded 100,000 times a day. If you'd like to read more about him, he just published a book that tells his story (Lifehacked: How One Family from the Slums Made Millions Selling Apps, by Allen Wong), available from Amazon.
5-0 is full of great features for those of us who listen to public safety radio. The main page offers the following options:
Browse Scanner Feeds
Top 100 Scanner Feeds
Local Scanner Feeds
Add your Own Feed
Bonus Feeds by Genre (more on this later)
Top Bonus Feeds
Search Bonus Feeds
Free Bonus: Family Locator
BROWSE SCANNER FEEDS leads you to a page listing of countries, numbering almost 25. I especially enjoy listening to other English speaking countries, like Australia and the United Kingdom. Clicking on United States takes you to a screen of the fifty states. Click on a state and the next screen takes you to a list of all the counties in that state. Keep drilling down and you'll get another screen of all the available channels. Incidentally, each screen includes the National Hurricane Center Skywarn Nets – Echolink (handy for those who live in the Midwest and other hurricane prone areas).
5-0 also offers access to worldwide amateur radio high frequency nets. Another cool twist is that railroads are included. Also, there is some overlap… for instance, in addition to fire and police departments, the Massachusetts page lists Greater Providence Area Fire and EMS. Having gone to college in Providence and having lived there for a dozen years, I especially enjoy listening to KCB 660, PFD. In some cases, the author has "merged" several frequencies onto one listening post… like fireground to the main fire frequency, so you don't miss anything!
TOP 100 SCANNER FEEDS
Includes, among others:
LAPD Citywide Dispatch and Hot Shots
Montreal City Police
Detroit Police Dispatch
Chicago Fire Digital
FDNY Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island (heaven on earth!)
San Diego Police
Denver Police, Fire and EMS
Reno and Sparks Police, Fire and EMS
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue
Spokane City and County Fire, EMS and Police
Central Minnesota Police, Sheriff, Fire and EMS
Just click on a listing and you are taken to a screen that looks like a portable, with digital clock, the name of the department and a volume slider. Another twist is a set of five buttons, which read INFO, FAVES, CHAT, MAP and MORE. FAVES lists your favorite channels, so you can jump with one touch. CHAT enables you to chat with other listeners. Click MORE and choose a state, and it displays the radio codes for various police and fire departments in that state… pretty slick!
LOCAL SCANNER FEEDS
Remember the "good old days" when we had to change crystals when we traveled, to hear another department? Then along came digital scanners, where you could just program in the frequency manually. Well, 5-0 takes that to the next generation…Using your phone's GPS, 5-0 locates you and then displays the stations that are on-line in your area.
ADD YOUR OWN FEEDS/SKINS
Allows you to input the URL and title of a site that isn't already programmed in 5-0.
SKINS allows you to add more railroad feeds, weather feeds, yes, even Howard Stern! You can chose from almost 20 on-line radio stations, and wait, there's more! How about an additional fifty major police and fire departments!
BONUS FEEDS by GENRE
From ALTERNATIVE to NPR to Top 40, there are literally hundreds of radio stations to choose from, from all over the world… awesome! Want to listen to German or Vietnamese? You can find them here. Breaking news? Listen to local broadcasts live! It's like having a shortwave radio right on your phone. I'm listening to an FM station in Cypress as I write this.
TOP BONUS FEEDS
More radio stations
SEARCH BONUS FEEDS
Need to find a song? Search here by genre, artist name, song name and station name. 5-0 will take you to a station that plays that artist.
5-0 comes in a free version, which offers 40,000 police, fire, EMS, railroad and airport stations to choose from. You have to tolerate advertisements on the free version. The PRO version, which I have, is $2.99 (1 time only). Download them from www.regoapps.com. Happy listening!
The second app, from a company recently purchased by GOOGLE, is called WAZE and it is handy for several different things. You activate it when you get in your car and it positions you on a map, using your GPS, as you drive. That's the most basic application. But it does a lot more. Need gas? Push a button and it will show you not only the nearest gas stations, but the price per gallon (which has previously been entered by a WAZER like you). Select the station and WAZE will give you directions as you drive. Have a favorite brand of gasoline? Put that in, and WAZE will direct you to their nearest station.
Running late? Need to know where the closest police cars/speed traps/cameras are? Is there a traffic jam ahead? An accident? Construction? Push REPORTS and you will see everything that is happening around you, listed from closest distance to furthest distance. Similarly, if you want to report the same, press a button and click the appropriate button. When I traveled for Thanksgiving, there were thousands of WAZERS all around me as I drove through three states. You earn points by reporting events/prices, but there's no award program that I could see. Still, avoiding a speeding ticket or saving a few bucks on gasoline makes this free app worth it! I got it at the Apple App Store.