NPR One app gives you the good stuff

National Public Radio gets its Pandora on with a car-friendly app that's all about delivering the news and stories you like.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

This is not your father's NPR app.

Whereas the old NPR News delivers a full range of stories, programs, and stations, NPR One (Android|iOS) takes a page from Pandora, delivering a customized, curated stream of news and stories.

It works like this: After two introductory audio segments, you sign in using Facebook, Google, or an NPR account. From there you get the latest news stream from your local NPR station, followed by a new or popular story.

Want to skip ahead? Simply swipe left. Look at your listening history? Swipe right. There's also a search option so you can jump to the latest episode of, say, "Fresh Air."

Along the way, NPR One lets you tag any story as "interesting" so the app can learn what you like. There's also a button for sharing the current story via Facebook, Twitter, text, or e-mail.

And that's about it. The app has a surprisingly sparse interface, but an appreciably large one that's ideal for dash-mounted phones. Headlines are rendered in large text, and playback controls consist of just three oversize buttons: 15-second rewind, play/pause, and skip.

At first I found NPR One's limited scope a bit frustrating, as it doesn't easily satisfy cravings for on-demand programming. But once I gave over to the curated selection, I found myself enjoying the app immensely. It's all the good stuff, all presented in an attractive, simple package.

One small quirk: After skipping away from the headline-news segment that greeted me at the beginning, I couldn't get back to it. But the next time I ran the app, it again kicked off with the latest news from my local station.

For anyone who loves (or even just likes) NPR and wants more wheat, less chaff during his or her daily commute, NPR One is an awesome companion. And it's free, so remember that during the next pledge drive.

 

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