As someone who lives outside the USA, I've always been fascinated by the concept of Public Radio and NPR in particular. I discovered NPR in 2003 as an English M.A. student, and it's always been my favorite radio channel -- accessible via satellite and recently via the Internet.
When I made my move to the iOS, I was surprised by the plethora and accessibility of Public Radio applications. So the iOS is by no means suffering from a shortage of accessible radio apps in general and free Public Radio apps in particular. In part 1 of this article you'll find an overview of my major Public Radio app: NPR News. Part 2 will focus on two more apps: Public Radio Player and Public Radio International (PRI).
NPR News: the heart and soul of my Public radio experience
NPR News was the first application that found its way into, I mean onto, my iDevice.
NPR News: The ultimate portable NPR experience for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Follow local and national news and listen to your favorite NPR stations wherever you are and whenever you want to.
When you first open the app, the "News" heading occupies the whole vertical area directly below the "Signal strength indicator" and the "Battery indicator." Below that from left to right you'll get four buttons: "Top stories" (which is selected by default), "Topics," "Newscast," and "Search." At the bottom of the screen you can find five tabs: "News" (the default), "Programs," "Stations," "Playlist," and "More."
So a large portion of the screen is occupied by the items, program names or articles each tab page displays. The benefits of this app? Well, you can read each story, listen to its audio, add it to playlist for future listening, listen to each separate National Public Radio program, browse various stations, add them to the Favorite list, and, last but not least, find which station has a live stream for the program you want at the moment.
In short, if I were to select one single Public Radio app, I'd choose this one. Not only is it pleasantly accessible like the rest of the apps I'm going to review, it seems to be the only one which has been recently updated. It also gives you access to the latest newscast. Some people have complained that this feature doesn't work for them at times, but so far it's worked flawlessly here. Its mere comprehensiveness is enough to make it a page-1 iOS app. Be warned, however, that if you want access to more Public Radio programs produced by entities other than NPR, our next app mentioned in the second and final episode of this post is the way to go. For instance, I couldn't find the program "Marketplace" using this app since obviously it's not produced by NPR.
In passing, it's worth mentioning that it's been developed by our very own venerable company, Bottle Rocket, which is committed to manufacturing VoiceOver-accessible applications -- see the About tab for more on that and some Twitter and Facebook log-in settings.