BBC is making its Radio app more personal and driver-friendly

The BBC is making a concerted effort to hold onto its radio audience by updating its Radio iPlayer app with new car-friendly features.

As of October 17, the app will support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, allowing drivers to safely listen to BBC Radio while behind the wheel. It also has some additional features which create a more personalized listening experience. 

The new app is split much more neatly into four fairly self-explanatory sections: Following, Listen Later, Downloads and Stations. 

Ears open, eyes forward

Following allows listeners to follow their favourite radio shows and then easily access them in a more car-friendly view; Listen Later acts as your own personal Radio station where you can listen to episodes you’ve decided to save for later; in the Downloads section you’ll find the shows you’ve downloaded for offline listening, which is particularly useful for when you’re driving through areas with spotty signal. Finally, the Stations section is, as you’d expect, where you’ll find the live broadcasts of all of the BBC’s national and local Radio channels.

These new and distinct sections are accompanied by a simplified touch interface that has been designed with drivers in mind so that it’s easy to skip through entire episodes or short 20 second chunks of them using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  

Android Auto users will also be able to use voice commands which makes a completely hands-free listening experience possible. 

This update brings BBC’s Radio app in line with the features of popular music streaming services such as Spotify in terms of accessibility and convenience. 

Though it’s not quite as robust as its competitors in terms of enabling specific song personalization, the 22 million people who apparently listen to BBC Radio while driving will no doubt welcome the broadcaster’s more car-friendly approach. The new features certainly do give fans of BBC Radio programming more reasons to choose the iPlayer Radio app over a more music-focused app like Spotify next time they get behind the wheel. 

Dan Taylor-Watt, head of BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio, expressed his delight that the BBC is now “able to open up the full breadth of [its] live and on demand offer to UK drivers via the BBC iPlayer Radio app and let them tailor their listening experience for their journey”.

To start using the new in-car app, listeners will have to download the iPlayer Radio app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play. From there, Android owners can either connect via a compatible car display or download and run the Android Auto app on any Android phone running Android 5.0 or above. iPhone owners, on the other hand, will need an Apple CarPlay-equipped vehicle and the number of vehicles which support the service is growing all the time.

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.