- Access to NPR broadcasts
- Offline reading
- Hourly newscast
- Playlist functionality is glitchy
If you regularly listen to National Public Radio or its podcasts, the NPR News app (NPR, Free) will be a hit with you. I’ve always been a big fan of NPR, and I was impressed with the rich content available in this iPhone news app.
Not surprisingly, the NPR News app focuses on radio rather than text (like The New York Times app) or video (like CNN Mobile). There are print articles, but the true value in this app lies in its radio coverage. NPR News includes the terrific Hourly Newscast, a five-minute overview of the latest headlines that you can listen to while you browse the rest of the news.
The NPR iPhone app also provides access to broadcasts from popular NPR shows, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Car Talk. A red “on air” icon appears next to shows that are currently broadcasting, so you can stream these live. For shows not currently airing, you can listen to individual segments from the last few shows. As you would expect from NPR, the quality is excellent. Buffering is fast and smooth over Wi-Fi, and while segments take a little longer to load over EDGE or 3G, there are no major interruptions. Like most free news apps, NPR News has banner ads, but they are rather subdued and I didn't find them particularly distracting.
You'll also get a good selection of text articles in the NPR News app, too. Some sections are updated pretty infrequently - the health and science sections only get about one new article each day. I'd like to see the amount of this coverage improved. You can share articles via email, Twitter or Facebook, but not text message, as you can with some other iPhone news apps.
I encountered one glitch while testing the NPR News app. You can add stories to your personalized playlist to listen to later, and when you’re done, tap ‘clear’ to delete the old stories. However, these deleted stories keep coming back even after you delete them several times. On occasion, stories that I didn’t add showed up in my playlist as well. A minor glitch, but a glitch nonetheless.
The Bottom Line
Other than that one minor bug, the NPR News app is a great addition to your iPhone. While it’s not the best app for breaking news, NPR gives you lots of in-depth reporting and access to hundreds of hours of public radio broadcasts, all in one easy-to-use app. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need