We’re thrilled to announce the launch of KCRW Music Mine, an iPad app that gives you a unique, exciting way to discover new music.
Music Mine is the product of a close partnership between PRX and KCRW, with design by Roundarch and music intelligence powered by The Echo Nest. Nearly a year in the making, the app developed from lengthy brainstorming sessions about what a next-generation station experience on the iPad should — and could — be.
KCRW excels at a lot of things — music, news, local Los Angeles culture, food, arts, film. But rather than attempt to recreate the KCRW.com website, or duplicate the station’s existing iPhone app on the iPad, we went further. We chose a focused concept that spotlights KCRW’s expertise in music discovery and pushes the limits of the iPad user experience.
PRX and KCRW certainly weren’t the first to come up with an app that lets you listen to music or even radio programs about music. So we pushed further, drawing upon the formidable design talents of digital agency Roundarch to wield user experience and graphic design to truly set this app apart. The Echo Nest was also brought in for their “music intelligence platform” which gathers music news and multimedia content from across the web.
The result is stunning. This video gives you an idea:
The app is beautiful and appealing. But we weren’t just going for beauty. We wanted to transform the music discovery experience from simply tapping a Play button and getting what you’re given (though that’s plenty great, too) into something much more active. With KCRW Music Mine, you want to pay attention. You want to explore, with the knowledge that KCRW DJs will make sure you only find good stuff. You can use the app simply to discover new music to like, or you can choose to go deeper to learn more about the artist and their work.
Or, you can just tap a Play button and get what KCRW’s Eclectic24 gives you.
Not only do we think Music Mine reshapes the music discovery experience, we think it exemplifies the kind of mobile/tablet presence public media should aspire to. At PRX, we believe that new platforms are opening up great possibility for fresh new expressions — not just reflections — of stations and programs.
KCRW Music Mine is a perfect incarnation of PRX’s mobile goals: To partner with innovative entities to create cutting-edge mobile experiences for public media.
This post was crossposted from the PRX Blog.
September 12th, 2011 → 9:23 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
Welcome to the new PRX Apps site. Here, you can learn about all of our apps, including the Public Radio Player, the granddaddy of them all.
Watch this blog for updates on all of PRX’s app work – there’s a lot coming soon!
Pretty soon, PRX will set to work on a major update to the Public Radio Player. We’ll fix some bugs and generally improve things. Depending on how much time we have, we might even add a new feature or two from the many requested.
Hooray, you say? You can say more than that!
Tell us what you want for the Public Radio Player. We’ve created an online forum for stations and app users to share ideas and see others’ ideas, too.
Now, it’s not like you’re not telling us all the time what you want. And we’ve gone through your blog and Facebook comments and made a list of those requests. But here’s another chance to weigh in. So head to the forum and be heard. You have till June 1.
Stations: Feel free to invite your listeners to the forum, too.
We know, we know. Android users want the Player, too.
Oh, the drama.
Here’s the deal. PRX wants to develop the Public Radio Player for Android. We know the Android OS dominates in smartphone sales. And I know we’ve been putting out teasers for a while – sorry about that. We made big progress last summer, thanks to the Google Summer of Code. But the app is pretty complex, and there’s a lot left to do. The original grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting did not fund Android – at the time of the grant, Android went from non-existent to fledgling. Meanwhile, PRX expanded our mobile app offerings to public media organizations, including This American Life and several stations. We’re a small team, and we’ve been busy with that.
But that’s not the only reason. Since last summer, we launched the This American Life Android app, with the same design and features as their iPhone app. That was a cautionary learning experience. For one thing, the adoption of the Android app has been less than 10% of the iPhone app. This, despite the reams of requests PRX and This American Life received from desperate Android users right up until launch. That may be an extreme situation, but — and I know all you Android users will not like to hear this — it’s true that app use by Android users is currently lower than Apple iOS users.
Yet it cost no less to develop.
There’s more. The beauty of Android’s openness is also a headache for developers (and it hasn’t changed much since this post last year). It’s many different versions of an OS across thousands of different devices. Despite our best efforts at testing, the This American Life app on Android is, shall we say, challenging for us and our users. As of now, media playback varies widely across devices, and it’s likely we’ll have to build our own solution. Netflix just announced they’re handling Android’s lack of a media playback standard by releasing on only five devices for now. Five, out of hundreds.
Plus, it’s not just about developing an app, it’s about caring for it once it’s in the wild, and caring for you, our *ahem* vocal audience. Audio playback sourced from thousands of station streams and podcasts compounds the issue. That’s true of the iPhone, but it’s even more true of the Android.
Oh wait, there’s even more. We are gearing up for a development sprint on the iPhone soon (watch this blog for an invite to give us ideas). We want to get at bugs and UI pain points, and make improvements for stations and users alike. When we do move forward on Android again, we want it to have the newest version of the iPhone app. So yes, more waiting.
I have an Android phone. A couple of my colleagues do, too. We would love to have the Public Radio Player (I use it on my iPod instead). But for a small, non-profit organization with tons of awesome stuff going on, it’s going to take more time.
Ok, commenters. Let us know what you think. As you can tell from our Give Feedback page, we approve all but the very rude, and we welcome niceness, too.
Today, we took some time to dig into the Public Radio Player’s stats. We knew they’d make us happy (a key requirement for any Friday activity), but, well, WOW:
The Player has had well over 3 million UNIQUE downloads*, and it’s currently averaging 3000 new users each day!
Thanks, everyone, for your support of this app and the stations and programs that power it.
* In other words, the Player has been downloaded to over 3 million different devices since launch. Amazing.
April 20th, 2011 → 9:22 am @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
Thanks to backgrounding, you can listen to the Public Radio Player *and* do other things on your iPhone. Lots of other things… but how to sift through the 350,000 apps now in the App Store? You need picks from the experts – us!
Check out what we like on the iPhone and Android and tell us your own faves in the comments. (I couldn’t resist making an obvious plug for the Player; in truth, all of us PRXers with iOS devices use it regularly. For real.)
You’ve always been able to listen to This American Life, one of public radio’s most popular shows, on the Public Radio Player. It’s been there since the Player first launched. But some shows make you want to dive in for a more complete experience – full archives, fun extras. That’s why lots of you also have the dedicated This American Life app for iPhone, developed by PRX.
When the iPad came along, the folks at This American Life saw they could invite you in even deeper, by taking advantage of the tablet’s unique user experience possibilities. So PRX partnered with them again… and voilà! An iPad app that truly befits a marvelous show and a marvelous device.
February 3rd, 2011 → 6:13 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
If you’re a media organization trying to figure out where to launch or grow your mobile presence — mobile web or native app? iOS or Android (or BlackBerry or Windows or…)? — we’ve got some thoughts for you.
Now, we’re well aware that the Player is iPhone-only, but we’re also well aware that needs to change. (And it will. Soon. We promise.) PRX, which develops the Player, also develops apps for public radio and TV organizations on iPhone, Android, and iPad.
Rarely, if ever, does someone come to us and say, ‘We need an iPhone/Android/iPad app, let’s move.’ Instead, they say, ‘We want to be on mobile, where should we start?’
After countless such conversations, we think we know a bit about mobile strategy. On the PBS MediaShift blog, PRX’s CEO Jake Shapiro has the first of a two-part series on mobile strategy for media organizations.
When you launch the Public Radio Player, the first thing you see after the welcome screen is a list of Featured Live Stations. We put it there to keep your head from exploding by not showing you all 500 station streams at once. (If you actually want to try to explode your head, just tap the State button at the top of the screen for the full list.)
The latest list features music stations playing many genres, including rock, hip-hop, indie, jazz, bluegrass, classical, and folk. There’s news from stations large and small from East, West, North, and South. There’s a Spanish-language station, a Native American station, and a couple of community radio stations, too. And, of course, there’s our beloved REMIX Radio stream of particularly interesting public radio pieces.
So check out the newest arrivals to the Featured Live Stations spotlight. And let us know who you want included in future rotations.
(By the way, if you want to find a station that was previously featured, look them up by State. If you don’t know the state, post a comment and we’ll help.)
January 19th, 2011 → 6:05 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
It’s been a nice day here at Public Radio Player headquarters. First, this lovely blog post came to our attention.
…The BEST app hands-down is this one a free app that lets me access live streaming content from hundreds of public radio stations 24/7, with a user-friendly interface that shows me what’s playing wherever, whenever, like the Jazz With Bob Parlocha that I’m listening to right now.
And cool features like a sleep timer and an alarm clock, so that I can drift off and wake-up to the perfect set of tunes. Truly, my one and only app, which reminds me….. enjoy
Then, we learned from TechCrunch that the Player is one of the top free iPhone apps of all time. Yes, there we are on Page Two of the 586-page list, higher than Pizza Hut, Moviefone, Wikipedia, Yahoo, CNN, and MSNBC.
We’ll take it! We’re not even trying to beat Page-One hits like The Bible, nor would it have occurred to us to compete with a toilet paper game (ok, maybe that one hurt a little). But we’ll gladly keep company with Yo Mama anytime.
We’ve had our days in the sun – we’ve done time as a #1 free app, and even more time as a top free music app. Just this past holiday season, the Player had 40,000 unique downloads between Christmas and New Year’s. So we’re happy to bask in our current status.