Monday, December 11, 2017

NPR News Functionality on Mobile Continues to Break My Heart

I am an NPR superfan, a 25-year avid listener (and yes, sustaining member). I do 95% of my listening on my Android phone. Most days, I listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I do skip stories, either the ones I don't care about, or the ones that seem repetitious. Still, I think I am around 98.2 percentile of NPR flagship news programs devotees.

I have long had a love-hate relationship with NPR on mobile, Android in particular. Here is a blog post from 2013 where I critiqued the NPR app. Not much has changed.

What I would really prefer is for NPR to be more podcast-friendly. In general, I don't want to install a separate app for every media brand I consume. I would definitely make an exception for NPR, but only if the app matched podcast app features--which I seriously doubt will ever be the case. Top of list:
  1. Accelerated voice playback, in user-defined increments (I currently prefer 1.4X).
  2. Automatic download and queuing.
So, I would settle for NPR news content being more podcast friendly. First and foremost, that would include a reliable feed. In 5+ years, those have come and gone. They actually seem to have returned, recently, but only a few months ago, in a private email exchange I had with NPR, the organization seemed to COMPLETELY reject the idea that there was mainstream demand to listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered, via podcast:

So I am happy that the feeds are up again (however long they last). Still, they have a few major problems:

  1. Time delay. They are hours behind the actual newscast, and the NPR app.
  2. They seem to have timestamp problems. When I sort in A-Z date published order, they seem reversed.
  3. Worst--each is a single episode. NPR is totally missing the idea that loyal listeners want the entire show! Ah, but you say maybe they want to skip stories. Yes, definitely--that's what chapters are for!
Then recently I read a Slate article that referred to a redesign initiative at NPR. I did some searching, and was momentarily thrilled to see they have an update to the News App in beta. I was about to apply to be a beta tester then I saw it--iOS only.

NPR, you are breaking my heart.