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Top Android Applications for Listening to Police Scanners

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 5/25/2011

This is a review of some of the best police scanner apps on the Android platform. We also cover some great weather and EMS scanner radios.

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    While some law enforcement personnel argue that civilian access and use of police radio scanners can impede crime-fighting efforts, others counter, by arguing that listening to police and EMS scanners helps them to stay-in-touch with events in their community.

    Legislations differ from State to State regarding the use of Police scanners, but as long as you aren’t using the scanner feed for any illicit gains; to listen to cellular phone frequencies; or to aid in the commission of a crime, in general, you should be OK – don’t take our word for it though, be sure to check with the relevant State authority first.

    Android Police Scanners are more than just police radio scanners though, many if not all, can be used to listen to the latest updates from weather stations, emergency services, amateur radio repeaters, public service radios and fire department as well.

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    Scanner Radio Pro (by Gordon Edwards)

    qr Scanner Radio Pro (by Gordon Edwards) Scanner Radio Pro - Live police scanner apps 

    In addition to giving civilians access to more than 2,500 emergency service channels, Scanner Radio Pro has an alert feature that will notify you when lots of people are listening to a particular channel – this is usually an indication that something big is happening. The inclusion of an alert feature shows that the developer understands the needs of many people who use scanner radios. If you want to get a handle on what others are thinking about, regarding a recent or ongoing event, you can install the Scanner Radio Chat Plug-in, which gives access to the chat rooms.

    The audio feed is provided by volunteers, who themselves have real scanners. And so, if coverage is not available for your area, one can’t really blame it on the developer. The app does have a menu item that shows how one can go about adding a radio scanner audio feed. Some notable features include:

    • Feed rewind/feed archive that allows you to listen to audio from the past 2-3 weeks; this requires a RadioReference.com Premium Subscription though.
    • Listen to multiple channels at once.
    • Live audio from more than 2,500 weather radios, police and fire scanners, and amateur radio repeaters.

    The Pro version cost $2.99. If you are looking or a free Android police radio scanner, there is a free version of this app, but it comes with ads.

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    Storm Chase Buddy

    qr Storm Chase Buddy Storm Chase Buddy - Fire ems scanner 

    Though Storm Chase Buddy is a limited coverage Android Police Radio Scanner, it is an awesome app if you live in the areas that it covers. Storm Chase Buddy is a great tool for crazy storm chasers and those who live in areas that are frequented by hurricanes and tornados. While the app doesn’t have a wide selection of police radios, it does have an abundance of weather related resources including NWS (National Weather Services), and Marine Observation feeds.

    Storm Chaser Buddy is great for keeping tabs on a storm’s progress as it passes over your area, or another area that is of interest to you. For the time being, this app only has police scanner feeds for: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

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    Scanner Buddy - Pro Version & Free Version

    qr Scanner Buddy - Pro Version - Emergency radio app Scanner Buddy - Pro Version - Emergency radio app 

    This free Android police scanner app has feeds from many of the large US cities and includes some international ones too. If you are already using the feeds that are provided by RadioReference.com but need additional ones, you will be better off looking elsewhere, as this app gets all its feeds from Radio Reference, so there is really no option to add more than what is offered. Even so, the app does already have a generous number of channels available.

    You can see if the app has what you want by first trying the free version. If you do, please note that you will be limited to just 1 minute of recording to your SD card, this is a significant step down from the Pro Version, which allows you to record as much as your SD card can store. The Pro Version costs $2.50.

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    Other Options

    Twin Cities Traffic & Camera -Free Android police scanner qr Twin Cities traffic & Camera  There are other good free Android police scanners that are available, but these we can’t wholeheartedly recommend, not because of substandard usability and a scant feature-set, but because they cover a limited number of areas and have a limited user base. A example is “Twin Cities Traffic & Camera."

    Not only does the app serve its users well by including traffic maps, traffic cameras and a police scanner, it also has information on weather, food and music events. We can’t recommend the app because it only serves the Twin Cities metro area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    For more great apps for Android handsets, be sure to check out our article on the best Android Apps of 2011.

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    References

    • Panix.com, http://www.panix.com/~clay/scanning/rules.shtml
    • AppBrain, http://www.appbrain.com

    Image Credits:

    • “Twin Cities Traffic & Camera - Free Android police scanner", http://www.appbrain.com/app/twin-cities-traffic-camera/com.osilabs.android.apps
    • “Scanner Radio Pro - Live police scanner apps", http://www.appbrain.com/app/scanner-radio-pro/com.scannerradio_pro
    • “Scanner Buddy - Pro Version - Emergency radio app", http://www.appbrain.com/app/scanner-buddy-pro-version/com.scannerbuddypaid
    • “Storm Chase Buddy - Fire ems scanner", http://www.appbrain.com/app/storm-chase-buddy/sites.google.com.martinmafiaorg.spchelper