TUAW Tips: Play internet radio in background on your iPad

Those of us who love to stream internet radio on our iPads can quickly turn into ogres when we switch to another app and the music stops. Until the iPad supports iOS 4 (soon) we're stuck with no background capability, which makes background streaming impossible.The folks over at FairerPlatform have come up with an easy way to listen to many of your favorite streams without a need to jailbreak your iPad or wait fruitlessly for Flash to make an appearance on the platform. While this trick won't work for every streaming Internet radio station -- Pandora is a perfect example of this -- it does work with others like Live365.

What you need to do is find a radio-only stream that is playable in Safari, start playing the stream, and then go on to those other apps while listening to your music. As an example, FairerPlatform cites Soma FM, a San Francisco-based, user-supported internet radio station. Their music is available in the pls multimedia playlist format, which the iPad's Safari plays without a hitch. Once you've started the stream, you can do any other work you need to and the stream plays on in the background.

If you're a fan of any of the live shows on the TWIT network, you can listen to those shows in background as well. Just point Safari to, tap "Live Audio Stream," and then you can listen to their shows while doing real work instead of looking at Leo's face. TWIT AM uses the m3u format, which also loves Mobile Safari. It seems that most of the internet radio streams using pls or m3u work beautifully with Safari.

Of course, this doesn't work with every radio station, internet or otherwise. I tried to see if a local radio station's coverage of the Colorado Rockies would stream -- nope, they use a Flash player. But this is a good trick to know until we're able to run the native streaming players as a background process on the iPad in a few days or months.