Vermont Public Radio’s Got a Shiny New App

September 27th, 2011 → 6:49 pm @ // Comments Off

Phew – what a couple of weeks here at PRX! So many launches, with more to come. We love each one individually, and can’t help bragging each time a new one goes out.

Vermont Public Radio is now on the iPhone. The VPR app is based on the PRX station app codebase, and the result is very much a Vermont app. That’s because VPR is deeply rooted in its communities, with regular news, features, and services. Their coverage of Hurricane Irene’s impact on the state kept a lot of people informed when information was hard to come by, earning them strong praise (and we’re sure much gratitude).

The VPR app is an expression of the network’s desire to inform and include its listeners. The Tell Us feature is based on PRX’s Assignments product, which lets VPR staff invite people to submit audio, photos, and text in response to specific assignments and topics. The app also offers classical music programming and commentaries from Vermonters.

Get the app now. Whether or not you have direct connections to Vermont and VPR, it’s great to see another quality app for public media out in the hands of the listeners we serve.


Assignments for good times…


…and not-so-good times.

Blog &Stations and Programs

Classier Classical from the WQXR App

September 26th, 2011 → 9:53 pm @ // Comments Off

WQXRThe newest mobile app from our able app-smiths is the WQXR classical music app for iPhone. It’s a fusion of everything classical from New York Public Radio’s WQXR station – and that means diverse streaming and on-demand music, plus program information and some fantastic reading material. We’re proud to collaborate with this classical music powerhouse, and help you:

  • Listen live to WQXR and their contemporary Q2 station
  • View real-time playlists and schedules
  • Access music shows, podcasts, and videos
  • Read features and blogs from WQXR’s classical universe
  • Request music and pledge to support WQXR

Inside the app you’ll find a wealth of detail about what you heard and will hear on WQXR. Between feature stories and relevant events, you’ll be up on the latest news from the classical music world. You can set an alarm clock/sleep timer and wake up (or fall asleep) to your favorite music.

WQXR’s knowledgeable and passionate hosts make the airwaves classy from the top of the Empire State Building. PRX’s freshest app delivers their selections beautifully to your mobile device. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to get great public media into more hands.

An Android version of the app is on the way.

Blog &Stations and Programs

Exploring the Depths of KCRW Music Mine

September 20th, 2011 → 8:05 pm @ // Comments Off

KCRW Music Mine We’re still buzzing from the excitement of getting the KCRW Music Mine iPad app out into the wild. The app exemplifies our desire to bring public media to mobile and tablets in new and amazing ways. Mark Ramsey says it well in this review.

With the launch flurry settling down, we’ve had some time to reflect on how the app came about. It was quite a process. Head over to the PRX Labs blog for an interview with Matt MacDonald, PRX’s Director of Project Management, on the concept and design, where he says things like:

One goal for us was to encourage musical exploration and delight so some of our interaction decisions basically force you to try out music that you might not be familiar with. We made sure to encourage that by not adding features like search or sorting and filtering tools.

Read Exploring The Depths Of Music Mine on PRX Labs.

Blog &iPad

Music Mine: A Stunning App for KCRW and Music Lovers Everywhere

September 14th, 2011 → 3:35 pm @ // One Comment

KCRW Music Mine
Get it now!

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 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.

Get the app!

This post was crossposted from the PRX Blog.

Blog &iPad

Looking for You’re Here

September 12th, 2011 → 9:23 pm @ // Comments Off

[RobiNZ / Flickr / cc]

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.

  • If you’re a station with questions or updates for the Public Radio Player, go here or email publicradioplayer .at. prx .dot. org with “Station:” in the subject line.
  • If you use the Public Radio Player and you want to learn more, go here. Like us on Facebook, too.
  • Curious about what else we’re up to in the app world? Go here.

Watch this blog for updates on all of PRX’s app work – there’s a lot coming soon!


Sound Opinions, Freakonomics and Irish Documentaries

July 8th, 2011 → 1:35 pm @ // Comments Off

IMG_0004 Newly featured in the Player this week, from Ireland to New York City:

Freakonomics Radio from WNYC

“Just like the books, Freakonomics Radio will explore ‘the hidden side of everything.’ It will tell you things you always thought you knew but didn’t, and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do.”

Sound Opinions from PRX

“Each week, hosts and nationally respected rock critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis talk about pop culture and music industry news, interview artists and bands, review new record releases, and highlight their all-time favorite rock and roll.”

Documentary on One from RTE

“Award Winning Radio documentaries from Ireland’s national public service broadcaster, RTÉ.”

Blog &Public Radio Player

What do YOU want from the Player?

May 18th, 2011 → 3:05 pm @ // 4 Comments

[Ian Muttoo / Flickr / cc]

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.

Blog &Public Radio Player

Why There’s No Public Radio Player for Android Yet

May 13th, 2011 → 2:00 pm @ // 9 Comments

Empty Android

We know, we know. Android users want the Player, too.

  • “Patiently waiting for bliss…” – Stephenmm
  • “hurry up please. i love your app and i want it on my phone!” – ryan
  • “Enjoyed this on my wifes Iphone but was disappointed to find out it isnt on my new Android device. Ohh How will I survive without it? Please hurry up and release it.” – Ben
  • ” I cannot help but wonder if this project has actually been…gulp…abandoned!” – Dan D

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.

Blog &Public Radio Player &Research

3 Million is a Nice Number

April 29th, 2011 → 4:35 pm @ // 2 Comments

Sometimes on Fridays, we do things we’re too busy to do during the week. Like go get lunch together, or listen to Public Radio Remix while we work.

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!

To celebrate, we’re tuning in to some new arrivals to the Player: NPR Music’s All Songs 24/7 stream (Live >> State >> District of Columbia), and their Alt.Latino podcast in Featured On Demand.

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.

Blog &Public Radio Player

Our Mobile App Picks

April 20th, 2011 → 9:22 am @ // 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.)

PRX Staff

Blog &More iPhone Apps &Public Radio Player