The iPhone is the handset of choice for a huge segment of people both here in the United States and abroad. I would be willing to wager that many of those users are sports fans. Today I bring news that will bring joy to all those who are both: ESPN Radio has just debuted an iPhone app, and a mighty fine one from what I can see.
This app fills a glaring void in the realm of iPhone accessible radio. From iHeartRadio and the Public Radio Tuner to Pandora and iFM, there are a plethora of options for those who wish to tune in over their phone (or iPod Touch), but up until now there has been no dedicated option for sports fans. Rick Broida, 20 year veteran tech writer for C|Net calls it “sports radio done right.”
He also waxes rhapsodic about the interface, talking about the ease of use, fast load time, ability to read the accompanying text story without leaving the app, and many other qualities that make this a must have for the ESPN addict on the go. One thing in particular he notes that I think is vitally important is the background operation:
Few streaming-audio apps can run in the background, but ESPN Radio offers a clever workaround: tap the Background button to continue listening to your station in Mobile Safari–which will keep playing even if you exit and go to other apps.
Background operation is especially important in radio apps for Apple devices. Normally you cannot do other things on their units without turning off your audio. This defeats one of the primary strengths of radio: the ability to listen while doing other things. ESPN’s ability to run while you play games, use productivity apps, text your buddy about the score, etc., is something that I would love to see become more common. It is also a quality that will keep people listening! In addition, there is a “text connect” feature that allows listeners using the app to send text messages directly to the ESPN studios while listening.
I am not a sports fan but I am a fan of radio, my iPhone and good design. All three are combined here as you can see from this video demonstration of the interface (note: there is no sound on the first 20 seconds or so of video).
Available at the App Store for a mere three dollars, this is the cheapest sports ticket you can purchase!
Image: ESPN Radio logo / Fair Use: Reporting