Harman Picks Up Aha, Expanded In-Car Streaming on the Way

Well, it's official: the 1.65 million students of the high-school class of '11 have set a new record. They collectively racked up the lowest SAT reading scores ever. Moreover, their score compared to the '10 score represented one of the biggest declines in 20 years. So not only are today's kids terrible readers, they are rapidly getting more terrible.

Which brings us to today's post. Slacker is a free streaming service accessible online, via mobile apps, and on dedicated radio players. You can create your own customized music stations from over 8 million online songs. There are also 150 preprogrammed genre stations as well as ABC News and ESPN. Good stuff.

Of course, many folks do most of their listening while driving. To address that market, Aha Radio has added Slacker to its offerings of location-based traffic, news,Yelp! and Facebook and Twitter feeds. The user's iPhone supplies the bandwidth; you simply plug your iPhone into the radio to receive Aha. There is lots of good stuff. For example, a Current Position button posts your car's location to your Facebook page. The Hungry menu lists nearby restaurants along with their Yelp! recommendations.

The good news: Aha is a free service. The bad news: Aha is currently available on only two Pioneer navigation radios, and those won't be upgradable to receive Slacker. Moreover, the current iPhone app doesn't support Slacker. But, future Pioneer receivers should be Slacker compatible and the iPhone app will be refreshed. And, a Slacker-compatible Aha Android app will be available. Aftermarket radio makers are slated to support Aha and Slacker as well. But wait! There's more! Aha was acquired by Harman, and Harman will be pushing Aha-equipped head units to car makers.  So, expect to see Slacker in model year 2013 factory cars.

Slacker's arrival in car radios is welcome news. Merging customized entertainment with social networking apps with car audio is a real winner. Most important, with good, solid listening options and their basic needs for food and social networking taken care of, kids'll hopefully have more time to devote to the basics. And they won't have to do so much reading while behind the wheel.

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