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NPR One on Android Auto: Public radio with even less frills

I currently have three ways to listen to National Public Radio in my car. There's terrestrial radio — which, despite every sentence that comes after this one, isn't going away anytime soon. Then there's satellite radio, which I've been enjoying for years now. And now I have the NPR One app on Android Auto.

That's a lot of pledge drives.

But as far as Android Auto apps go, NPR One might actually be the most restrained we've seen.

There's actually not a whole lot to say about the NPR One app on Android Auto. Load it up on your phone, plug in, and go. But it differs from just about every other Android Auto app we've used in that you're not drowned in a sea of content — some of which gets blocked by the dreaded "For safety reasons, no more items can be displayed" message. That simply doesn't happen on the NPR One app because there's only one level of content in the menu. So you can't run into the touch limit.

You can scroll through a handful of content, or just pick one and let it cruse through the list on its own.

The "now playing" screen gives you the options to play/pause, view the "Coming up" list, rewind 10 seconds — or tap the lightbulb. That's actually where we run into one headache with Android Auto — if you're not already familiar with an app (I wasn't an NPR One user before this), you'll be lacking context for things. I had no idea what the light bulb was for. But a quick trip back to the phone and you'll learn that it's for marking items as being "interesting." Mystery solved. One other incongruity is that you'll sometimes hear pieces refer to tapping buttons on the screen, which on a phone or tablet would take you to another story for listening. That doesn't work on Android Auto, though. It's funny the first time, but one of those annoyances you tend to get in Google products beyond that.

And that's it. I think I'd like to see some basic categories of available content. But on the other hand there's so much available from NPR and its affiliates that things could get unwieldy very fast, so I can appreciate the simplicity. (And you do get the occasional local content tossed in, which is cool.) This one's going to stay installed on my phone and available in my car, if for no other reason that it's essentially news on demand, and it's very well done.

11 Comments
  • I love NRP One, and I'm glad to hear it works with Android Auto. I'll be happy to use it when I eventually get a head unit. I like that it is simple, and you can just hit play, let it go, and catch up on local/national news.
  • NPR is still on the air ? It would be more fulfilling to watch paint dry. Posted via the "None-Ya" app
  • The beauty of NPR is they actually tell the news and rely on actual journalism versus logic fallacies and rhetoric. Posted via Morse Code
  • LOL Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ace.....NPR is operated by ultra left liberals. They do not have real journalists. They operate by spewing hate for poor people and racism. Sad! Posted via the "None-Ya" app
  • Last time I checked, Liberals aren't the ones who hate poor people (they support welfare and SNAP benefits), nor the ones that are racist (unless you mean the Liberals from other parts of the world. Their definition is different).
  • NPR tells the entire story and then some.
  • I've been using the NPR one app rather than the NPR news app on my phone for quite some time and I love it. I find it a much cleaner and easier to use interface to the same content. I haven't tried this on Android Auto yet, but perhaps you could search for content within the NPR one app using voice? This would obviate the need for categories, at least somewhat. Posted via Android Central App
  • We'll be bringing Voice Search to Android Auto soon, definitely on our roadmap.
  • @Phil, thanks for the review and suggestions! I work on the NPR One team, and just wanted to drop a line to say thanks and that we plan to address some of the issues you mentioned. We actually implemented Android Auto before a lot of our new content / features (like podcasts and the promos that tell you to tap your screen). We plan to revisit these in Android Auto in the near future to make it more useful. We always strive to reveal more content without reducing the simplicity, in our eyes it should be as easy as turning on the radio. Thanks again!
  • LOVE the NPR ONE app on my phone, even without full Google Auto when connected through bluetooth I can advance, pause, rewind through touch screen in my cars dash. And this is by far the best way to listen to NPR. It has the least amount of "non-ads" of any method, learns your preferences, and will go to the most recent top of the hour newscast if you have been away from the app for more than about 40 minutes. If you hit upon a story or program that you don't like..skip it and move on to something more interesting. Perfect.