It’s been a busy summer here at PRX. True, that statement applies to every summer since our founding, but this one was SO busy that we left an incredible announcement off of this blog.
Radiolab, the beloved show about “science, philosophy, and human experience,” now has an app truly worthy of its unique style and spirit. If you have an iOS or Android device, you can experience it for yourself.
Of course, it’s highly likely this is old news and you’ve been enjoying the app since June. Just thought we’d mention anyway.
When PRX worked with KCRW last year to design and develop the Music Mine app for iPad, we knew that there was a reason we spent time and effort building a reusable API — we just didn’t know that we’d be building a Spotify app with it.
Last fall, the popular music-streaming service Spotify announced that they were creating a platform for developers and music-focused companies to create apps that would be available in their desktop music software. Basically it’s the ability to have an app inside of an app — in our case Music Mine inside of Spotify.
KCRW recently reached out to PRX, and within a week, we had conceptualized, designed, built, and delivered a fully functional Music Mine Spotify app to KCRW. We got the word from KCRW late last week that the app had been approved. We’re excited to be the first public media app on the Spotify platform and are even more excited to see the analytics and numbers once they are available.
If you use Spotify you can click on this link and it’ll install the app for you.
Matt & The PRX Tech Team
With so many public media fans and newbies engaging with us on mobile, it seems only natural that they should be able to donate to their favorite stations and programs on mobile, too. It follows that Apple would make this easy to do. Not so. PRX’s CEO Jake Shapiro has spoken out on this issue, but it hasn’t changed yet.
Android doesn’t have Apple’s explicit restrictions, but it does have other barriers to frictionless donation.
PRX has explored solutions for as long as we’ve been building mobile apps. See a few in action in our station apps.
But there’s much room for innovation. Join PRX’s Technical Projects Director Matt MacDonald and other user experience experts from public media and beyond for a working session, “Pledge Your Support for Mobile”. It will be at the Integrated Media Association (IMA) conference on March 8, just before SXSW. This session is for UX, tech, membership, development, and anyone else who wants to channel our audiences’ mobile engagement into support for public media.
When we set out in early 2010 to make a mobile app with WBUR Boston, iOS — the operating system that runs on iPhones, iPods, and iPads — was the natural choice of platform. It still had far more users than Android, Google’s mobile operating system, and the iTunes App Store was more user-friendly than the Android Market. Also, the fragmentation of the Android platform across hundreds of different devices seemed to guarantee an unreliable experience for all but people with the most advanced devices.
So we launched WBUR on the iPhone, and we reused much of that code to develop high-quality, affordable apps for several more stations. We call this master codebase the “PRX station app product“, with built-in features and things stations can customize.
Like so much in digital technology, things change pretty fast. By mid-2011, Android device adoption was actually ahead of iOS, the Android Market was starting to improve significantly, and the platform was more stable across more devices (though it still has a ways to go, especially for audio/video playback).
In other words, it was time.
Today, we’re proud to announce the first station app for Android: WQXR Classical from New York Public Radio. Like the iPhone apps, WQXR for Android is based off of a PRX station app product developed specifically for Android.
Thanks to the efficiency of this master codebase, and the growing demand for Android apps, you’ll be seeing more public media stations coming to Android soon.
It’s no small thing to make a mobile app that people will use. Plus, the bar is constantly raising as a flurry of new apps are released each month.
PRX is fortunate to have an excellent development team and public media partners whose great content just begs to be appified.
But what if you’re just some guy or gal with an idea? How do you go about making and promoting an app? How do you not only avoid going broke, but possibly even make some money?
This story from NPR’s On the Media doesn’t have all the answers. But Rekha Murthy, who helps manage PRX’s mobile apps business, gave the producer Jody Avirgan a few things to consider. Her description of PRX’s app process provided a tinge of reality to Jody’s hopes for an app to make him rich quick.
It is commonly accepted that to make an app, you first need a good idea. Listen to the story to learn what Jody’s idea is, and how you can help.
December 1st, 2011 → 5:15 pm @ Jake Shapiro // Comments Off
As part of a Knight News Challenge invitation to write occasionally for the terrific MediaShift IdeaLab I’ve got a new blog post up: “Public Media Should Mind the Developer Gap“. This has been a frequent topic in conversations we have here at PRX and with our partners across public media, particularly as we’ve been building mobile apps and testing the limits of tech capacity at stations big and small.
Here are a few quotes, and you can find the full post here.
As public broadcasting goes through its own turbulent transition to a new Internet and mobile world, the technology talent gap is a risk that looms large. Yes, there are many other challenges: political and policy battles, business model pressures, cultural and structural obstacles, the need for strategic vision and leadership. And there are other recruitment needs across general management, content, fundraising. But the twin coins of the new digital realm are code and design, and with a few notable exceptions, public media is seriously lacking in both.
These days the competition for talent in media technology is fierce, from new ventures to mature enterprises. Public media should be the go-to place for aspiring and experienced technologists who believe in a public service mission, want to collaborate to build products, services and content for millions of people, and seek an alternative from the rapidly commercializing web. There should be natural alliances with open-source software communities, with leading nonprofit web giants Mozilla and Wikipedia, the growing number of web-based local news organizations, and the open/civic data movement.
To keep up with the latest from the PRX tech team make sure to check out the PRX Labs blog.
November 14th, 2011 → 9:48 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
PRX continues to colonize California with a new iPhone app for KPBS in San Diego. Get the app now.
Listen and view the station’s radio and TV programs and programming schedules. Read up on the latest local, national, and world news. Enjoy KPBS’s extensive arts coverage including their blogs, Culture Lust and Cinema Junkie.
For those interested in local programming, check the on-air schedules in the app and tune in live to Midday Edition, Evening Edition, and Envision San Diego, or get past episodes in On Demand. If you’re looking for something to do in San Diego, take advantage of KPBS’s events picks.
And, while you’ve got local on the mind, KPBS wants to hear from you – submit text, photos, and audio in response to assignments and help shape their coverage. This feature is a version of PRX’s Assignments product, which you can also see in the WBUR, WGBH, and VPR apps.
What’s next? We’ve got a KPBS app for Android in the works, and as with all our apps, we’ll continue to partner with KPBS on ongoing improvements.
October 18th, 2011 → 3:49 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
We know, this blog has a string of app release announcements. But don’t you want to know about the new KQED app for iPhone? Of course you do!
KQED serves Northern California, including the Bay Area. This app is going to keep you busy.
If you’re a KQED member, you can enjoy KQED Perks — discounts offered by local businesses — more easily than ever. Scan through a list of discounts, find them on a map, and redeem by launching a virtual member card in the app itself. Just show your device to the business and the discount is yours – no paper card needed! This feature is a result of our integration of member benefits and member validation into the PRX station app platform.
As with all of our station apps, this app makes it easy to support the station. And don’t you think, with all this content and technology goodness, they deserve it?
October 14th, 2011 → 7:03 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
WNYC’s new iPhone app is now live in iTunes, the latest product of our mobile partnership with New York Public Radio. The WNYC app follows on the heels of its classical cousin, WQXR, whose iPhone app launched last month. We’re working together on Android versions for both, coming soon.
WNYC is one of the top public radio stations in the country, with an exciting mix of news, culture, and music. The app was designed to present this abundance of content in a way that’s appealing and easy to navigate. You can listen to programming, read blogs and news feeds, find local events, pledge your support, and more.
The app is powered by the PRX station app platform, which streamlines the development and updating process while letting WNYC’s unique identity take center stage.
Learn more about WNYC and the app in this press release.
September 27th, 2011 → 6:49 pm @ Rekha at PRX // Comments Off
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.