There have been a few different radio applications that have come around, but one frequent complaint is that none of them offer a way to stream music in the background. This is a limitation that Apple has placed on third-party programs, but the native iPod app has this ability.
There’s a new program on the block, and it’s called FlyCast (iTunes link). It’s 100% free (at least for now), and has all of the features I expected from an excellent radio streaming application.
There are over 1,000 stations available for the picking, which you can browse by genre or find by performing a quick search. Tapping on a radio station will start to stream it within the program just as you would expect. In the settings you can even choose to conserve battery power so that the program will stream in chunks, and won’t keep a constant connection with the server.
So how do you play music in the background? First off you need to disable the “Quick Play” option in the settings. What this will do is open the stream in Safari, which will then play the stream in the QuickTime app from within the browser. After that you can use any other program on your iPhone, and the music will continue streaming. The whole process of opening a radio station using this method takes about 15-seconds, but it’s tough to complain when there’s really no other solution for streaming music in the background.