NPR One App: Is It Worth the Download?

I spent about an hour with the NPR One App, skipping stories that weren’t keeping my attention and marking stories “interesting” to signal that I enjoyed it. As I mentioned in my first blog post, the news topics I like to consume are all over the map. Based on my skips and interests, the NPR One App was able to create a stream of varying stories that felt tailored made just for me.

NPR One Logo via Google Image Search / Source:

I listened to ten stories on the app. I will rank them from 1 to 5, with 5 being a story I was highly interested in and would share with my friends and family, and 1 being a story I did not like at all. Below are the stories I listened to and their rankings based on customization:

Columbia Government, Guerillas To Reach Peace Agreement – Rank 2. The title interested me, but I retained very little information from this story.

The Surreal Reasons Girls Are Disappearing In El Salvador: #15Girls – Rank 5. This piece kept my attention for the entire 11 minutes. I felt like I was in El Salvador with the journalist talking to these girls, and my heart goes out to them. I will read up on more of this topic, and tell my friends to listen to this. I am very interested in topics like this.

What’s At The Edge Of A Cloud? – Rank 1.5. I am normally interested in the weather, but I wasn’t captured by this story. It’s not something that sticks out in my head, nor is it something I would share with others.

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep – Rank 4. This story was more science-y than what I typically pick for myself, but I’m so happy the stream chose this for me.  After listening, I felt more educated on a topic that I knew little about previously. The story kept my attention; I would share with friends.

Meet The Man Who Invents Languages For A Living – Rank 5. This was so fascinating, and definitely something that I would share with others. Although it wasn’t your typical newsworthy or educational story, I enjoyed listening, and I learned something new. I am also interested in languages and linguists, knew what I liked and picked this story for me

Is Marco Rubio The Generational Change The Grand Old Party Needs? – Rank 5. I’m not one for politics, but this story had a great message and really got me thinking about next year’s presidential election. I think both Democrats and Republicans should give this a listen, because it was both informational and attention-grabbing. Although conservatives aren’t popular in Ann Arbor, Marco Rubio is someone that I want to learn more about, so I felt like the app picked this story for me.

There’s A Way To Help Every Child In Michigan Save For Education – Rank 3.5. This was a local story; since I am from Michigan, this seemed important. I learned a few things while listening, but I found my mind wandering a little bit. I would still recommend to someone interested in the future of education in the state of Michigan.

Hey Siri, What Did You Say? Why Computers Still Mispronounce Names – Rank 3. The title was more interesting than the podcast itself. I listened to the beginning and the end, but my mind wandered in the middle. I don’t normally read tech news, as it is a topic I don’t fully understand, but someone intrigued by technology would enjoy this piece.

A Model In A Hijab Talks About Her Faith And Fashion – Rank 5. This was a great story, and it is a topic I am very interested in. I wish this piece was longer (it was only one minute and forty seconds), but I am glad the app picked this story for me.

Source: via Google Image Search

I really enjoyed the mobility of the listening experience. I began listening with my phone on my desk sitting at my desk chair. After a while, I got antsy and began to do a few exercises in my bedroom, bringing the phone to the floor with me when I did crunches and seated stretches. I liked having the phone nearby with the option to adjust anything (volume, a new story, etc.) in the palm of my hand. Throughout my listening experience, I was thinking of all the different times I can use the app: while exercising, eating breakfast, walking to class, on a car ride, and more.

Another aspect of the app I enjoy is the variety of stories that were picked for me. I’m not sure if it’s because my interests are broad, and if someone solely interested in one specific topic had a different experience than me, but I like having different types of stories at my fingertips. As a result of the variety, I find that the app keeps my attention longer, and I am more prone to continue listening to the stories the app generates for me.

Even though I had a positive experience, I do have two critiques for the app. The first is that there were times when a bar would appear across the screen saying “audio failed”, so I was unable to listen to that story. This happened about four times. There were a few times where the time bar would be running, but no sound was produced. I’m not sure if this was my fault due to poor Internet access, or if the app was being glitchy.

The second critique I have is something that I feel the app is lacking. I wish there was a “like” or a “heart” button next to each story so that I could save the story in a folder on the app to indicate stories I loved and want to save. With the way the app is currently, I have to remember the title and type it into the search bar if I want to listen to it again.

So, is it worth the download? I say yes; I had a wonderful time listening to the NPR One App, and I plan on incorporating it into my daily routine.

Source: via Google Image Search


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