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Android App Review: Radio New Zealand

The Radio New Zealand app delivers on what it promises – Radio New Zealand, on your phone. And while this is perfectly fine, this app has the opportunity to do more.

For all that my peers and I might have this preconception that they’re a bit old-fashioned and stuffy (helped in no small part by the fact that my dad listens to it exclusively), Radio New Zealand actually don’t do a bad job of the whole digital archive thing.

Their website has a range of shows recorded and available, and you can stream live radio direct from the site. The Radio New Zealand app is very much a trimmed-down version of this, with streaming radio and a limited range of recordings available.

The live streams are a bit slow to start up but once they’ve had a chance to buffer I had no problems with them. The sound quality isn’t awesome but, I mean, it’s National Radio.

Ninety-nine percent of what you’re listening to is just people talking, and the quality is good enough for that. If you wanted to stream music in high quality, you wouldn’t be looking at this app in the first place.

This app sits in a weird middle-ground where it wants to be more than just streaming radio (because there’s plenty of competition when it comes to apps for that) but it doesn’t quite want to commit to being a podcast archive.

If you want to listen to older episodes of a particular show they’re abundantly available on Radio New Zealand’s website, but only the most recent few are on the app.

I can appreciate that having just the most recent shows available will be fine for most people who just want to catch up on one they missed, or re-listen to one they particularly enjoyed.

But part of me feels like if you’re going to make older stuff available, either go all out and put the whole lot on there or don’t bother.

If you missed last week’s ‘At The Movies’ then never fear, it’ll be there on your phone to listen to at your convenience. But missed the one from the week before? Then you’re out of luck, I’m afraid.

Another place where the app feels a little sparse is the information about the shows you’re listening to. It tells you who’s speaking and on what topic, but that’s about it.

But most of these shows and interviews are about things that are also on the internet, and including a link along with the recording would make the app far deeper and more useful.

This isn’t necessary, of course – real radio doesn’t come with links – but it seems like an opportunity that the app format gives which hasn’t been taken advantage of.

Overall this isn’t a bad app – it gives you what it says it will and does it well enough. Hopefully over time Radio New Zealand will push it further to make the most of what having a dedicated app can do for them.