Australian ABC launches new revamped audio app

By James Cridland for
Posted 13 September 2017, 3.37am edt

James Cridland

The Australian ABC has launched a revamped app, placing content rather than radio brands first. It's renamed ABC listen rather than ABC Radio.

The app's homescreen includes a scrolling list of radio stations, the latest news bulletin, and trending clips and podcasts from the Australian public service broadcaster. As the BBC iPlayer Radio app, its logo is derived from the TV product (iView) with an added radio broadcast device.

I tried the app, available now from Apple and Google app stores. The app is a colourful experience, with crisp artwork and clear iconography. It uses the new ABC typeface, and appears to load relatively quickly. It correctly identified my local ABC station. The "Discover" tab appears quite well-featured, with listeners able to drill down into ABC content by topic or station.

However, it almost completely lacks listen-again features: the only programs available from ABC Radio Brisbane, the corporation's station for the Queensland capital, are networked programs like Conversations, PM or Nightlife. Craig Zonca, the #1 breakfast show in the city, has no further material available nor any opportunity to listen again to either excerpts or the whole program. Using the 'discover' tab to search for "Brisbane" surprisingly finds zero results. Podcast programs appear to be able to be downloaded using the app, but only if individual episodes are added to a playlist.

The app doesn't appear to follow Android design guidelines, moving the hamburger menu to the top-right instead of the top-left and using dots rather than lines. Unusually, when listening to any output it fails to show audio control notifications. Listening on Android 8.0 generates an error showing that the app is running in the background, and offers an opportunity to force close it. It does not work with Chromecast or Google Home. It does, however, have full support for Android Auto, though I couldn't get the "featured" tab to work.

The app looks different from the Corporation's "ABC" app, which contains news, and uses different iconography, font sizes and UX patterns. This appears to be a missed opportunity.

This is a step forward from previous versions of the app; and I understand that additional features are shortly going to ship. There is much to like in it - yet, it would appear, much to work on - for Android especially.

Press release

The ABC has launched its much-anticipated new audio app ABC listen, giving audiences an improved digital listening experience for both live streaming and on-demand content.

ABC listen replaces the existing ABC Radio app and offers enhanced navigation, personalisation and content search functions.

Director of Radio, Michael Mason, said the new app recognised the changing habits of ABC listeners. “Our previous Radio app has proved extremely popular since its launch in 2012 and this new app marks a major step forward in our ability to provide seamless and easy-to-navigate access to our enormous range of on-demand and live audio content,” Mr Mason said. “By focusing on the user’s own behaviours and preferences it opens up our content and allows for much easier discovery.”

ABC listen provides access to 45 ABC radio stations and audio networks including the ABC’s four national networks, its eight capital city local radio stations, 10 digital stations and 23 regional radio stations. It also provides a platform for more than 130 programs and podcasts.

The main features include a redesigned home page highlighting popular ABC programs, trending podcasts and a personalised playlist. Users will also be able to easily access favourite content in the new ‘My Programs’ tab. These functions allow the new app to highlight and recommend the most relevant content to each user.

Users of the new app will still be able to find all their favourite radio streams and content including hourly ABC News bulletins from wherever they listen, be it on their mobile device, tablet or in the car.

Alongside the launch of ABC listen, ABC has released two compelling new podcasts both with listener experiences available exclusively via the new app. Ladies, We Need To Talk is an eight-part series presented by Yumi Stynes exploring female relationships, health and sexuality. Exclusive bonus episodes are available only on ABC listen. And, the six-part series How Do You Sleep At Night? which looks at people who live their lives in the face of judgement and is presented by triple j Hack’s Sarah McVeigh. The entire series will be available for download ABC listen from Wednesday 13 September (or released weekly via other podcast platforms).

ABC listen is now available for free download from either the Apple Store or Google Play. ABC Radio’s triple j and triple j Unearthed apps will continue as stand-alone apps.

More information

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.

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