Phones photo

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Jalopy-bound Sirius XM devotees don’t have to spring for a full sat-radio upgrade to listen to Howard Stern in their hoopties anymore. Today Sirius XM intro’ed the XM SkyDock, a device that turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a car satellite radio, letting subscribers kick finicky streaming apps to the curb.

The dock itself has Sirius XM’s own radio receiver chip on the inside, so it provides full access to their entire lineup. It does need to connect to the car’s cigarette power adapter to run, but it will also charge your iPhone at the same time. Radio gets to your stereo system via an aux output or built-in FM transmitter. And you, naturally, need to set up a sat-radio antenna to catch the signal.

The companion iPhone app, which requires OS version 3.0, is free in the iTunes store and works in both portrait and landscape modes. From the app, you get full access to all Sirius XM channels and a couple other goodies. First, if you hear a song you like, you can tag it, then review your tagged items, and jump to the iTunes store to buy them with a single click. There’s also a built-in local weather widget, which is nice, since you can’t exit the Sirius XM app to check the weather elsewhere without interrupting playback.

But how is this better than the existing streaming app you can already get, you ask? Two reasons: it gives you access to the whole sat-radio catalog; and it’s a real consistent radio signal, not a Web stream.

Sirius XM reps aren’t commenting about whether or not SkyDocks for other devices will be available in the future, but I guess we’ll see how this one goes to get started.

The SkyDock ($120) and its accompanying app (free) will both be available this fall.