NPR debuts official iPhone app

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NPR debuts official iPhone app
There are few public radio apps out there, but the official NPR News app [iTunes link] takes some of the best features of these offerings and goes one step beyond.

NPR News app was developed by Bottle Rocket Apps, the same folks who brought us Gas Buddy and a number of other well-executed iPhone apps. And, NPR News does not disappoint.

When you open the app, you're presented with a layout similar to other news apps. You have top stories, more offerings beyond that, and then a newscast where you can listen to a brief update of the top news of the hour. Along the bottom is a toolbar toggling among news, NPR's programs, a comprehensive listing of NPR stations nationwide with the ability to listen to your station of choice. For that, I tried out WUAL -- broadcast from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- my alma mater. The stream loaded quickly and I was listening to WUAL from my iPhone at a Barnes & Noble in Phoenix, Arizona. Pretty sweet. It's one of the things that I loved from Public Radio Player, and I'm glad to see this feature on the official app as well.

Under the Programs heading, you can add stories to a playlist or be taken to its podcast listing in the iTunes Music Store except for programs where you can select individual stories rather than the overall broadcast. If a program is currently airing in your local area while you're perusing the offerings, tap on the "Select Station" icon to pick a station to listen live. While in both program or station mode, the menu expands to expose a volume control if you tap on the arrow right above the time indicator.

Other than the lack of some programs, the only other big drawback to NPR News is the inability to scrub back and forth in a program. It's especially hindering if you have to stop the program for any reason because you'll have to go all the way back to the beginning.

NPR News is a free download and definitely worth checking out.

Edit (7:55 AM PDT): Some programs such as "Marketplace" aren't available because they are not produced by National Public Radio, according to Andy Carvin with NPR in our comments. These programs are available when you tune into a station live, but are not listed under the NPR programs section. He also added that scrubbing and sharing features will come in the 1.1 edition of the app. Thanks for the clarification, Andy!

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