By Swati G. Sharma
Reviewing: NPR News and NPR Addict
By: National Public Radio, Pass Time Software
Available for: iPhone
Should you get it? If you love NPR
If you're like me and love listening to the radio, but are rarely in a car, radio apps are a must because they offer on-demand listening of your favorite radio shows.
The NPR app is a much better option than subscribing to podcasts - you have options to listen to the live stream and browse programming by topic or top stories.
The programming is easy to find. It is divided by news, programs, and stations, and allows you to create playlists and choose top stories. My favorite category to browse through is the “All Programs” option, where I can catch quick snippets of "All Things Considered," or devote an hour to "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.
The app works well with your iPhone - programming is paused when you get a phone call or a text, and it allows you to use multiple apps at the same time. It also lets you share clips on Twitter and Facebook, and is synced with your account. It provides for an easy user experience.
While the app excels in user-friendliness, it lacks in its available shows and clips. Most of the clips found in "Top stories" do not have audio, only the text of the story. If you browse by topics, programs such as "All Things Considered", one of my favorite programs for quick news snippets, only goes back one day.
The best thing this app provides is live streaming. If that's what you are looking for, you're in luck. You have the option of listening to live broadcasts of many different NPR affiliated radio stations. But the lack of radio clips and the time lag in providing audio clips from when they originally aired are a huge shortcoming in our world of immediacy. NPR is a radio program. if you can't listen to the content, what's the point?
In short, the NPR News app is a good resource for live streaming, but falls short in other areas. For everything else, i turn your attention to the NPR Addict app.
This app's user experience is not as streamlined as the official NPR app, but goes far beyond the generic "topics" provided by the latter. Here are some examples of topics: television, Election 2012, animals, brain candy, summer, and the impact of war.
The available content far eclipses what is available on the official NPR app. The problem comes when you actually select a segment for your listening pleasure.
Let’s say you’re tuned in to a fascinating "Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me" segment and someone calls you. No matter what you do - ignore the call or answer - you are kicked out of the program you were listening to, lose your spot, and have to find the clip all over again. Grrrr.
Another huge downfall: You can’t use other apps while listening to the radio. In our age of multi-tasking - making a grocery list while responding to an e-mail while listening to "Talk of the Nation" - isn’t possible.
My verdict: Both apps provide a valuable service. It depends on what you're looking for. If you use the app for streaming, go with NPR News. If you are a fan of the evergreen content or specific programs, NPR Addict might be your best best. Unfortunately, both apps lack major features most radio apps have.
My suggestion? Get both apps. You can never have too many, right?