NPR News for iPhone review

For almost forty years National Public Radio (NPR) has broadcast news, current affairs and all things cultural, via around 800 public radio stations, across the US. The service, also available extensively online, is generally highly regarded despite some criticism of both left and right wing bias.

Newly launched, the free NPR News iPhone application from Bottle Rocket is well suited for those UK news junkies who want serious worldwide reports without being tied to listening online in front of a computer screen. Four options at the bottom of the screen – News, Programs, Stations and My Playlist – make navigation a breeze. News offers a chance to read and listen to the latest headlines, including brief hourly bulletins to specific reports, including US and world news, politics, business, science and health.

Most text stories include an option to listen to a related audio report within the page; the choice is yours. Text stories and any images can be viewed offline once news has been downloaded, although you'll need to be online to listen to any related audio content.

Programs offers a list of NPR programming, including the long-running and popular Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Shows broadcasting live, indicated by an 'On Air' symbol, can be listened to via an extensive list of stations broadcasting online within the application. Thankfully, you don't need to know which stations are currently broadcasting live the show you want to listen to, as the application offers a selective list from which to choose from.

Shows off-air can still be heard in snippet form – each with a brief header explaining what the report or feature is about. These range from a few minutes to more lengthy audio reports.

Stations lists NPR stations by state, zip code and location, while the iPhone's GPS functionality will find your local station if you are visiting the US. Otherwise, it’s a case of pot luck scrolling down a lengthy list and listening in until you find something you like the sound of. We experienced some buffering issues here, although this was resolved by switching stations.

My Playlist simply offers the ability to grab reports and audio in one place to listen to later or again at your convenience.

OUR VERDICT

NPR radio is a worthy service that includes news and current affairs that cover both mainstream stories and lesser-known events in need of greater exposure. NPR News for iPhone is an excellent companion, which makes light work of a wealth of information and comment on offer, letting you set the news agenda and decide how and when you'll listen in.

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