NPR, or National Public Radio, is little known outside the United States. International readers should probably think of it as America’s BBC radio, though with much less international ambition. Having said that, NPR’s programing is hard to match in terms of quality and diversity of topics, so it’s worth checking out regardless of where you live.
Open NPR’s web app and you’ll be presented with a choice of stories to read or listen to:
As you can see, the interface is divided into three main categories: News, Arts & Life and Music. You can use the arrow keys or your mouse to browse the stories, clicking the stories with your mouse or the enter key to read them.
There’s more, however. You can listen to any story immediately by clicking the audio icon beside them, or queue them in a playlist by clicking the “playlist” button. This makes you a radio programmer of sorts, selecting the stories you want to hear in the order you want to hear them.
For a more general overview, clicking the “Hourly News” button is a great way to immediately hear the latest happenings in Washington and around the world. You can also browse the stories by category. For example, you can see all of the latest science news by pulling up this category in the “Topics” menu:
While an emphasis is obviously given to News, the other categories should not be overlooked. Under music, for example, you’ll occasionally find full albums to listen to, pre-release. This is a great way to discover new music.
Shows & Streams
There’s more to find here than the headlines. Clicking the Programs button allows you to find the latest from your favorite NPR shows, including fun ones like the ever-amusing Car Talk and comedic quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me:
This is a perfect way to add more lighthearted fare to your news listening.
Want to stop thinking about what to listen to? Tune into your local NPR affiliate and leave it to the professionals. Click the “Stations” button to browse for your local station, or let GeoIP find it for you (provided your browser offers this feature, of course).
When Chrome launched its recent Chrome Web Store many wondered what made these “apps” anything more than bookmarks. This criticism is valid, as this NPR app and most any other web app can be used without Chrome.
But that’s not the point. Web developers, and major media players such as NPR, are building websites that function as full-blown applications. Best of all: you can use them in any browser. This is a welcome, open alternative to the walled-garden approach of the iPhone/iPad/Android. I suspect that was the point of the project.
Whatever the case may be, I’m thrilled to have access to NPR’s excellent web app on every platform, and plan on using it quite a bit while laying out manuals. I think you should too, and (of course) donate to your local NPR affiliate to help keep this excellent programming free.
What about you? Share your thoughts about this app below. Feel free to recommend similar news web apps, or to rant aimlessly about NPR being liberal and this article being evidence of MakeUseOf’s terrible liberal bias (bonus points if you make a joke about my hometown).