Last week, NPR released NPR One as the official National Public Radio mobile app (Android and iphone). I’ve become a big fan of theirs (David has too!) as I now spend much more time in a car than I did in Manhattan and don’t always want to hear the same five songs on repeat on the radio.
I find that NPR can really hold my interest most of the time with their unique (often poked fun at) reporting style and I walk out of the car feeling more intelligent than when I walked in. I have heard many complaints that it is too politically biased, but I find that it devotes real time to most political issues and usually interviews people from both sides of the spectrum.
After using the app for a week I am impressed and enjoying it thoroughly, yet I see some room for improvement. It is (as far as I can tell) NPR’s only station-independent mobile application, as opposed to WNYC’s which mostly covers New York City topics. The latter is a bit more mature and has some great features like “On Air Now” – which lets you listen to the live broadcast – and “Discover” – which downloads to your phone 20 to 180 minutes of content related to topics you choose (great for a subway or airplane ride).
NPR One tries to be more like Pandora, providing a stream of content that adapts to the stories you like. This works quite well, but can still be a bit buggy and lacks a necessary dislike button. I love that when you first log in it starts with the most recent hourly newscast. There definitely needs to be an “Hourly Newscast” button so that I don’t need to log out and back in to get the most recent one. It also uses quite a bit of data, about 500 MB in a week of only casual use, so if you don’t have an unlimited plan you might want to wait until they fix that.
The app is perfect for someone with a long commute who wants a simple, personalized NPR app. Users who want to listen live or download a bunch of content for later consumption should stick with the WNYC app for now.