One of the strongest memories I have of my grandfather is watching him sit down in the afternoons with a glass of iced tea and listening to the police scanner. As a kid, I never really got the appeal. But today, just hearing a police scanner in the background makes me think fondly of the times I had with my granddad. But even if you don’t have a nostalgic association with police scanners, you should check out 5-0 Radio Police Scanner Lite (Free).
What is it and what does it do
5-0 Radio Police Scanner Lite (Free) proclaims itself to be “the largest collection of live police, firefighters, aircraft, railroad, marine, emergency, and ham radios.” Featuring live radio from all over the world, this app has 11 million users worldwide.
- Easy to listen to feeds in the background
- Huge array of feeds from all over the world that’s easy to browse by region/country/county
- Built-in police/EMS/fire/military codes and phonetic alphabet for easy interpretation and reference
- The app includes an in-app browser, which blocks most ads
- Simple to add your own feeds from the web by simply tapping on the feed’s link via the in-app browser
- Automatically attempts to reconnect the feed if you lose the connection.
- There is a slight delay of several seconds between the live radio and the radio you pick up with this app
- The paid app (5-0 Radio PRO) adds 33,000 more feeds not available in the free version
- Pop ups and banner ads are hard to avoid
Listening to ham radios and police scanners has always struck me as something that older people do: my grandfather and one of my favorite college professors were both older guys who loved ham radios. But there’s a lot to like for people in their 20s and 30s as well: there’s a thrill that comes from feeling connected to your town, or tapping into the feed from your home town.
You can easily find local scanners, or see what is being listened to by the highest number of people from around the world. Major US, UK, and Canadian cities seem to be what most people listen to, but a quick look through the app shows that even the smallest counties and towns are equally well-represented. Also represented: police feeds from places as far flung as East Timor, Antigua, and the Czech Republic.
A note on legality: According to the App Store description, “It is legal in most countries to listen to police feeds. However, it is illegal in some places to use this app to aid in the commission of a crime or to pose as a police officer when you are not. It may also be illegal to use it while driving. Please consult your local laws before using this app outside of your home.”
Conclusion and download link
If you’ve ever heard sirens in your neighborhood and wondered what was going on, this useful app can keep you abreast of police and fire activity in your area. And in the event of a catastrophic, city-wide emergency, this app could be very handy indeed: how many of us have police scanners or even portable radios in the house anymore?
Version reviewed: 26.0
Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS version 4.0 or later
Download size: 7.1 MB