Omny gets personal as your all-in-one radio app

Omny doesn't want you looking at your mobile screen.

Though iTunes Radio may be heading to Australia soon, the recently launched Aussie app Omny is looking to give you a much more personalised radio streaming experience that doesn't just throw in news and weather.

Taking on the likes of iHeartRadio and Pandora, Omny co-founder Ed Hooper spoke with TechRadar to explain that Omny is "user-first radio".

"Omny works out what the individual should be listening to instead of say traditional radio stations where everyone listens to the same thing in the whole city or whole country," said Hooper.

"You can multitask while you listen… What I like is spread out across a whole lot of different apps and a whole lot of different radio stations," he said. "What if I could just take what I wanted?"

Something different

Created by startup 121cast over 18 months by co-founders Hooper, Andrew Armstrong and Long Zheng, Omny isn't like other music streaming apps or traditional radio - and nor is it trying to be.

"There's a lot of great apps in the audio space that are really good at doing different pieces really well. I'd say we bring it all together," Hooper said.

It connects with the streaming service of your choice for music that it pulls, and though Omny is a free app, you'll need a premium or paid account with Spotify, Rdio or Songl.

If you don't have a premium account with these services, Omny will automatically pull 30-second previews from Songl.

It can also pull music in from your personal iTunes library, as well as radio content from selected partners, including the ABC, NPR and BBC.

All of the apps, one radio

Hooper believes that Omny will be able to keep your eyes off your device's screen, making you safer in your car or just walking around.

"What we do is, we take websites, we take all you different personal updates, as say like a Siri or personal assistant, we take the music, we take all the different podcast content, we bring it all together and we play you the most relevant thing.

"So you know, Spotify does a great job of playing music, and letting people build playlists and follow artists. If you want ABC content, you can get the ABC app and consume all of that.

"Because we know everyone is time poor and whether you've got 5 minutes to listen or an hour to listen, we want you to have the best things, the best experience."

"A lot of people have been talking about heading in the direction of what we're doing. But we're the only ones we've seen so far doing something like this and we think we're off to a pretty good start. We think we're off to a pretty good start."

The app also uses an algorithm that Hooper said will allow Omny to learn your taste over time, allowing users to swipe to "like" or skip certain types of content.

Streaming heavy

As a streaming-heavy service that also connects to other streaming services, Hooper said that they had worked hard to get caching right.

"The caching we've got is really helping and going well at the moment but a better solution is on its way," he said.

"If they do have Wi-Fi, we do pull as much down as we can, so it is there. But complete offline caching mode is in the works."

As Optus Innov8 was one of Omny's backers, Hopper said that they were also looking at strategic partnerships."

"Being able to speak to those guys [Optus] about what they're seeing on their network in terms of app data usage, we can look at what we need to do to release some of the burden off the users. We're investigating cool, potential opportunities there."

He added that unmetered use is also something the Omny team had spoken about, but was not something they were looking to push just yet.

Omny everywhere

With the rise of wearable tech, Hooper also explained that they had made sure to build Omny with an open architecture.

"We're definitely building a service that's starting on mobile but can be consumable anywhere, whether that's Google Glass, or a webpage or a small watch," he explained.

"We've kept it pretty open to that we can integrate with third parties, we can integrate with lots of different devices. So we're already speaking to some car manufacturers to do some pretty cool stuff."

And looking to the future, Hooper is said that the Omny team is leaving things very open.

"We've built everything knowing that there's going to be more platforms that are going to come, there are going to be other cool integrations we're going to want to do so, we've architectured it so it can deal with all those things."

Omny is currently available on iOS, but is set to makes its Android debut early next year.