It seems like many blog posts about cool apps focus either on the super obscure (Appademia’s 12-tone Matrix Generator) or the ones most people already have (Google Search). I love apps that are actually useful for everyone, but may not be so well-known. There are four that I absolutely LOVE right now. Three of them are radio/news related and one is something of a wild card.
When you open the app, you are in the main news section, which you see below. The options across the bottom of the app allow you to see all NPR programs, streaming stations, and playlists you’ve created of NPR content. My favorite thing to do is go to programs and see which programs have the “On Air” red button out to the right. That means I can choose that program and see the individual stories for that day as well as find a live stream for that show.
It’s the best when I’m heading to class at 9am and Morning Edition is almost over here on the east coast, but I can listen to the stream from California, or even Hawaii later in the day, right from the app. I can also add content to a playlist and play individual segments whenever I want. All of the content is in a podcast archive, so I can keep it for a pretty long time. Maybe forever, I haven’t tested its limits.
The next app I’m in love with is NPR-produced RadioLab ($2.99). If you’ve ever listened to RadioLab before, you know it’s among the most interesting, thought-provoking, in-depth reporting on the radio today, but with a twist. It’s investigative reporting on topics that aren’t necessarily top-of-the-hour newsworthy, but topics which affect us all. The digestive system, the history of epidemics, modern mysteries and more. Every time I catch RadioLab on the radio — it’s around noon on Friday’s here in Knoxville, TN on WUOT-FM 91.9 — I am only in the car for a few minutes and their program is about an hour long. I always come in at a moment that’s insanely interesting and then wind up sitting in my car for an extra 30 minutes so I can keep listening.
Now I can listen to all of the RadioLab shows anytime I want! I can also annoy every person I know my forcing them to listen to the episodes I love. They end up thankful after they realize how awesome it is. The app is pretty basic in terms of function, but it’s super neat to navigate. When you come to the main app screen (the desk scene below), a swipe from bottom to top of the screen opens the shades and flies you through the window and through a landscape of options — pledge, listen (programs), an area to record your own RadioLab promo in their signature answering machine sound, stories to read — and by this time you’re looking at the moon and an astronaut on another planet. It’s pretty fun. It’s a little pricey as apps go, but the $$ goes to producing the show so I can justify it.
Next is BBC News (free). I won’t go on too much about this one, but BBC has great news content around the globe and this app give you easy access to all of it. My favorite feature is BBC Live Radio. I know you’re shocked by that. When there’s nothing I want to listen to on NPR, I am one tap away from a global news source.
Finally, my savior, my love, my yummiest app — JIMMY JOHN’S!!!!!!!! (free)
I am lucky enough to be indelivery range of the best sammich ever. This app saves your address (multiple addresses if you need to), saves your favorite orders, lets you order for a time in the future or immediately, all the sides, all the extras, all the Jimmy Chips you can handle! And you don’t have to talk to anyone. You don’t have to yell your credit card number into the phone. You don’t have to wait while they repeat your order and address back to you. I’m not anti-social. I just don’t like talking to people.
Jimmy John’s delivers until 2-3am, depending on the night. Even if I’m too under the influence to order a delicious sammich, I can manage the app and get some food brought right to my door. This app makes me so happy, I can hardly express it. Sure, Jimmy John’s might have been start-up funded by Romney. So what? I’ll just add it to the list of restaurants I love in spite of their support of complete nonsense. Now gimme my sammich and an enormous pickle (cut into four pieces, please)!