TED is not the only Android app designed to motivate and inspire

by Marty Gabel

We were happy to see the official app for TED finally arrive in the Android Play Store last week, and Appolicious Advisor, Kate Currin, remarked on how it can both motivate and inspire. While TED is certainly up there with the best, there are a number of other worthy Android apps that can also educate, inform and enhance your knowledge of the world around you through articles, via podcasts or with multimedia. Here are a few of the best.

Slate (Free)

Slate is a popular online news destination with plenty of analysis and commentary about politics, world news and culture. While this Android app does have a few issues with stability, it offers a good snapshot of the content available at the full Slate website, and functions a little better than Slate’s mobile site. With articles, podcasts, video and slide shows covering technology, the arts, business, science and sports, plus a firm editorial voice, Slate is a worthy addition to your cultural app arsenal.

Stitcher Radio - News & Talk (Free)

With 5,000 different radio shows, live stations and podcasts to tap into, it would take any news junkie or culture buff eons to plow through all the content available in this free app. As well as big-wigs like CNN, NPR, BBC and FOX, there are plenty of smaller, independent podcasts and shows to enjoy, and they cover everything from news and sports to comedy, talk and storytelling. The ability to create your own playlists is helpful (say, one for your work commute or one for your lunch hour), and as someone who has used the app for a while, it is clear that its developers continue to iron-out bugs and improve its performance with each update.

NPR News (Free)

While Stitcher connects to NPR quite happily, if you want content from National Public Radio directly from the horse’s mouth, their official app is worth checking out. Regardless of your politics, there is no denying the quality of content available here. As well, the app lets you listen directly to a live stream of your local public radio station (or another from further afield) in addition to popular individual shows like All Things Considered, Marketplace or Morning Edition. Personally, I’ve found the app a little buggy and have experienced the occasional force-close issue, and having seen how NPR has improved its iOS and iPad app support, it would be great to see this extended to Android tablets in the future too.

The Root (Free)

The Root comes from the same stable as Slate, but instead focuses solely on black news and perspectives from the African American community. The app features original news articles covering race, culture, politics and society as it affects Black Americans, as well as multiple podcasts, video and slide shows. The Root remains a provocative and important news source with excellent commentary from some great African American writers.

TuneIn Radio (Free) and rad.io (Free)

While both of these services are often celebrated for the amount of music radio stations they stream, they are worth picking up for news and culture junkies too, especially if you want to hear broadcasts from outside of North America. TuneIn Radio boasts a massive 50,000 stations and 1.2 million individual shows. While that may sound somewhat intimidating, it’s easy to sort and filter and drill-down to what you want to listen to. rad.io is perhaps a little more intriguing as it has far more focus on international broadcasts and you can find over 4,000 worldwide stations sorted by genre, city, country or even language. For their worldwide scope, both TuneIn Radio and rad.io are worth examining for culture vultures.