Mobile

NPR News for Android is a solid initial offering

National Public Radio's Android app offers instant access to your top radio shows.

What's your listening pleasure? Screenshot by Scott Webster/CNET

Fans of radio shows like "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" will be happy to learn that NPR Digital Media released its first application for Android devices. In addition to the above shows, NPR News offers many of the network's popular programs. You can download NPR News from the Android Market for free today.

I've already logged considerable time playing with NPR News over the last day or so and have found it to a welcome addition to my handset. The app has a very simple and intuitive interface that makes learning a breeze. The color scheme and fonts echo that of the mobile NPR Web site and make great use of the screen space.

After installing I was listening to the day's top stories within minutes. Being that this is an Android application, NPR News has the ability to run in the background of my phone. For example, I can check e-mails and browse the Web while listening to my favorite programs.

There are anywhere between 10 to 20 topics to choose from including World, Politics, and Movies, and the news appears to be updated regularly. It is incredibly simple to find local stations and related podcasts thanks to GPS and cell-tower triangulation. The app was able to pull up three stations within 20 miles of my location and notify me of the radio frequencies, call signs, and on-demand podcasts. It's also possible to search by Zip code should you want to pull up your favorite stations from around the country.

Those of you with busy schedules and finicky palates will enjoy being able to handpick your news and form personalized playlists. NPR News lets users browse through the various categories and add articles to your queue. What's more, an update expected in the spring of 2010 promises live station streaming.

There are only two features I felt were missing from NPR News. First is the ability to subscribe to specific shows automatically. Call me lazy, but I don't want to have to manually select the same shows over and over. The other opportunity for improvement lies in adding the rest of NPRs original programs.

Neither of the missing features are deal-breakers and I'm fairly confident that both of these will be built into future updates. These quibbles aside, I'm very happy with this release.