When we launched the web version of Pocket Casts last year we had no idea how it would be received. It turns out a lot of you loved it. We’re so grateful to see how many of you have paid the once off $9 price and joined us on this amazing journey. Earlier this year we started planning a lot of updates to the service, based on your feedback and some things we’ve wanted to do with it since we launched. Today we’re proud to launch the first of those updates. Here is the change log for version 1.1:
- You’ve always been a star, we know that. But now your episodes can be too! Collect all your favorites in the side bar.
- What else does a star need? A platform! Chromecast to your television for that big screen experience (Chrome only, no one ever got famous by running IE).
- While your stunt double does all the hard work, why not kick back, sort your your episodes in reverse order and find a good story podcast to listen to.
There’s also the feature that the web player now has change logs, which we know a lot of you seem to like reading. Now when a new version comes out with significant changes, you’ll get this appear in the app:
So sit back, open your browser, go to play.pocketcasts.com and enjoy some great podcasts.
The last year has been an amazing time for podcasts and before we get too far into the next generation of Pocket Casts, we’d like to take a look back and share a few of our highlights.
In early 2014 we ventured out from our fortress of mobile devices and into the browser with Pocket Casts Web, and we’re glad we did. The feedback we’ve received has been overwhelming and we have some awesome plans for new features in the future. If you haven’t already, you can try it out for free here.
Pocket Casts 5 for iOS was released in November 2014 to support iOS 8 and Apple’s gargantuan 6 and 6+. Handoff to Pocket Casts Web is still one of our favourite features, cross-platform syncing has never been so seamless.
Serial! It would be remiss of us not to mention what Serial did for podcasting (and by association Pocket Casts) in 2014. Along with the rest of the world, the Shifty Jelly team obsessed over the conclusion to season 1 for weeks on end. We think 2015 is going to be even bigger and better for podcasting, with plenty of new voices and more from your favourite shows.
Finally, Pocket Casts 5 for Android is coming. Very soon. We’re in the final stages of testing and can’t wait to share it with the world. If you’d like to be notified when it’s released, follow us on Twitter.
Onwards and upwards!
While we’re busy beavering away on the Lollipop update of Pocket Casts (which looks amazing by the way), we thought we’d give you a few new things to play with:
- Pocket Casts now has actionable notifications, so you can download or stream episodes right from your phone or Android Wear watch. If an episode is auto-downloaded while you’re away, those buttons will change to play and add to Up Next.
- Variable speed playback has been enhanced so that it now works with more than just MP3 files. On most phones AAC and OGG are also now supported!
- We’ve fixed quite a few Lollipop bugs, like the skip buttons in the player getting stuck on a colour.
- You can now choose exactly which podcasts you’d like to be notified about, instead of it being an all or nothing setting.
- Auto download has been changed by popular request to download any new shows that come out. This is especially handy for people that listen to things like hourly news podcasts, that used to have to download some of these manually if they weren’t around when the shows came out.
So grab it if you haven’t already and enjoy your favourite podcasts just that little bit more. Speaking of which: Adnan totally did it by the way. No way that guy is innocent. Sorry…runs away…
After many months of hard work, we’re proud to introduce you to Pocket Casts, version 5. We’ve packed a lot of features and goodness into every free update we’ve released since version 1, and this one is certainly no exception. It all starts with the refreshed interface that supports the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. We’ve made a lot of small tweaks to screens and some huge changes to others. We’ve also incorporated a lot of your feedback into this version as well, a few of the highlights include:
- Handoff support. For those of you that use our new web player (play.pocketcasts.com) you can now tap one button on your Mac, and it will open the same episode in the web player, auto-loaded to where you’re currently up to. I used it just this morning to finish an episode of Serial. I sat down at my desk at work, opened the app, clicked the little Safari icon in my dock…and BOOM. I continued right on!
- Actionable notifications. You can now add to Up Next and download directly from a notification, without having to open the app.
- The sleep timer now remembers the last time you chose, and auto-selects that when you tap it. it’s also more configurable than ever before.
- You can now mark as played, straight from the Up Next list, when you do, the next item in the list will automatically start playing.
- It’s now far easy to work with your Up Next list, tapping play on an episode somewhere else, now adds it there, and pushes all your other episodes down by one.
- Skipping is easier than ever before, just double tap with two fingers anywhere on the now playing screen.
- Per podcast notification settings, you can now choose to receive notifications for only the podcasts you care the most about.
- Auto download all new episodes, a huge boon for episodes released in multiple parts..
- We fixed a lot of other small bugs. All in all this is the biggest update we’ve done since we completely rebooted Pocket Casts last year with version 4.
After many months of hard work we’d like to introduce you to our latest update: Pocket Casts v4.5 for Android. Don’t be fooled by the ‘.5′ part there’s a lot that’s new:
- Chromecast support: send your favourite podcasts straight to your TV with a single tap.
- Up Next playlist: no need to wonder what’s playing next, flick right on the now playing screen and see. Re-arrange items to your heart’s content, and quickly skip between them too.
- Colourful Awesomeness: podcast authors have some amazing artwork. The new Pocket Casts automatically detects colours from the artwork and brightens the interface in subtle, but powerful ways.
- Modern Android Interface: When Pocket Casts 4 first came out, it was everything that was right about Android design. Since then Android has moved forward, and now so have we. See your podcasts in a whole new light.
- Enhancements Galore: We’ve re-written so many parts of Pocket Casts to make it faster, more robust and better than ever before. There’s a million little details that have gone into this update and we can’t wait for you to experience them.
So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Google Play Store and grab it now!
Here at Team Shifty Jelly we’re die hard podcast lovers. My personal fanatical crush on Tom Merritt aside, we all have slightly different listening habits so we thought it would be cool to share some of those with the world. I listen to podcasts almost exclusively while driving to and from work. What I need from the app is to have all the podcasts I want ready to go in the morning so that I can pick which ones I want to listen to. I’ve got 32 podcasts in my collection most of which release weekly or daily episodes. I’m never able to listen to all of them, so I’ve created an Episode Filter of my favourite ones called ‘Top Casts’. I set this one to show me all the Unplayed and In Progress episodes from the podcasts I listen to the most:
I have auto-download configured for my favourite podcasts, so when I woke up Monday morning I had the following downloaded and ready to go:
My drive to work varies from 30 minutes to an hour, so clearly I’m not going to be able to listen to every single one of these. Pocket Casts makes marking episodes as played super fast, just swipe your finger from right to left over it:
Today I’m in the mood for the Vergecast, so I’ll tap play on that first. After that if there’s time I’d like to listen to something more Australian, so I pick the Reckoner, followed by The Talk Show. Adding these to the up next list is easy, tap on one, tap the ‘+’ and choose ‘Play Next':
So now my ‘Up Next’ list has 3 episodes ready to go, with the first one currently playing:
Now I’m driving along, occasionally tapping the skip button. I have my app configured to skip 45 seconds forward each time I press the skip button, so it’s easy to breeze past any boring bits. About halfway through the Vergecast I’m done with listening to Josh interrupt people constantly, so I long press on the skip button, and BAM, I’m transported to listening to Reckoner instead:
At the 35 minute mark, I make it to work and turn off my car. Pocket Casts automatically stops playing, and off I go. Before leaving work, I queue up another podcast or two for the trip home depending on what has come out during the day. Any ones I feel I might not get to, I quickly swipe away. Pocket Casts is configured to automatically delete downloaded files for any episode I mark as played, so I never have to worry about manually trying to manage storage.
I’m not sure if you noticed, but last week Apple launched iOS 7. It was a big deal. We launched Pocket Casts 4 at the same time, it was also a big deal. Today we launched version 4.1 which includes all the features that didn’t quite make it into 4.0, as well as updates based on your feedback and of course the usual raft of bug fixes. We’re very excited about the future of Pocket Casts and we have some big plans for the future. Today though we’d like to recap how the launch went.
After waking up at 2.30am in Australia to push the release button, we were pleasantly surprised by Apple having picked our app to feature in quite a number of spots.
First and foremost a massive banner in the news category, and also in the ‘Designed for iOS 7′ section:
When we threw out all our old version 3 code, and started a new Xcode project at the beginning of 2013 we spent a lot of time on design and workflow. When Apple announced iOS 7 at WWDC in June, we changed course again. Our aim was always to build a podcast listening app that was easy to use, fitted in perfectly with iOS and looked amazing. Clearly Apple feels we nailed it and we couldn’t think of better approval than that.
Next up the reviews started to roll in, here’s a few quotes we’ve picked out:
“I’ve thoroughly been enjoying Pocket Casts 4, and it’s booted Instacast off of my home screen. I’m in love with the natural iOS 7 design, subtle custom colors, transparencies, and intuitive interface. Plus, the syncing is easy and fast. This is what an iOS 7 podcast client should be, and I’m glad Shifty Jelly made it.”
“I’ve been trying out Pocket Casts 4 for a while now, and it does a great job providing robust, power user features in a way that stays incredibly clean and clear”
“This isn’t just a reskinning of an old app. It is an app that truly understands and lives on iOS 7. Everything in the app has been redone to look pixel perfect on your iPhone or iPad…”
“I’ve switched to Pocket Casts 4 as my podcast client of choice…Besides design choices and animations, the app’s navigation, sync, automatic downloads, and filters work better for me and for the way I like to listen to podcasts.”
“Pocket Casts 4 represents what iOS 7 is all about. If you love podcasts, this is a must download”
“This app really looks native to iOS 7 without just being derivative of what Apple is doing”
“I find Pocket Casts 4 the be the best overall podcast management app for iOS, and a perfect way to usher in the dawn of a revisioned iOS.”
We also rated a mention on The Verge and even a shout out on Reddit, for a dialogue I wrote at 2am. In short thanks to your amazing support, we had our best app launch in the history of Shifty Jelly. We made it into the Top 50 paid apps in the US, and were at #2 in our category as well. As small independent developers with little to no marketing budget, we can’t tell you how great that feels.
For those of you that have followed us for a while though, you’ll know that we’re not going to retire on our amazing launch and take the rest of the year off. We’re already planning future updates for the app as well as some new and innovative things in the world of podcasting that no one else has done before. We’re not ready to talk about that today, but rest assured we still have more things in the pipeline that should blow your collective minds. So strap yourselves in, and enjoy the Shifty Jelly Experience (Patent Pending). Also if you got all the way way here and haven’t bought the app yet, shame on you, go buy it right now on the App Store.
Over the past few months, we’ve been working hard on the biggest update to Pocket Casts for iOS that we’ve ever done. We’re excited to finally be able to announce that Pocket Casts version 4 is almost done, and will be available soon!
Some big features of Pocket Casts 4:
- Stunning, redesigned user interface based on iOS 7’s styling.
- iPad support, because your iPad needs podcast lovin’ too.
- Your subscriptions, playlists and play states can be synced between every iOS & Android device you own. We *love* this feature. And you heard us right, iOS and Android, living together in syncing harmony. That’s syncsess right there!
- Smart dynamic episode filters. Want a list of every unplayed, downloaded podcast? Right here. How about a list of video episodes that you haven’t downloaded yet? Easy. Manual playlists are obviously still available for the super picky among you.
- Automatic downloads. When a new episode of your favourite show comes out, Pocket Casts can download it automatically for you, without you having to open the app.
There’s a lot more to Pocket Casts 4, but we have to keep some surprises for when it launches ;)
Many of these new features rely on the cool new technologies built into iOS 7. This is why Pocket Casts 4 will be available as a free update for iOS 7 only and will be released to coincide with the launch of iOS 7. If your device can’t run iOS 7, v3 of Pocket Casts will continue to work just fine, and when you do update to a shiny new device, you’ll be able to upgrade your app for free!
We think Pocket Casts is the best way to listen to podcasts. We know you’ll love it and we can’t wait to get it into your hands so you can enjoy it too!
The long wait is finally over, today we bring you Pocket Casts 4 for Android, a free update to all our Google Play customers. We can’t tell you how happy it makes us to finally release this version to you all. It’s been at least 6 months in the making, thousands of hours worth of blood, sweat and occasionally even tears. So let’s talk a bit about what’s new.
Syncing and Backup
This has to be the biggest and best feature of version 4 by far. Basically you can (optionally of course) set up an account and store all your podcast subscriptions, playlists & playback progress in the cloud. What this enables you to do is seamlessly sync your progress with your other android devices, and as we update Pocket Casts on iOS and other places you’ll be able to sync to those as well. Even better is that this makes moving to a new device, flashing a new ROM or just starting fresh super easy. Just log back in and Pocket Casts will set you up exactly where you left off, including hooking up any downloaded files you might have on your phone/SD Card from before as well. During development I’d estimate between us we uninstalled/reinstalled the app about 100 times, and this feature worked flawlessly!
Powerful smart playlists
Another amazing feature of version 4 is being able to easily build lists of the kind of episodes you want to listen to or download. You can filter by an episodes playing status, whether it’s audio or video, whether it’s from a particular podcast, its download status and whether you’ve starred it or not. This lets you easily build a playlist of what you want to listen to which you can then sort how you like, and also choose to have the phone auto-download for you. It’s a game changer and I personally can’t go back to the old version because of this feature alone.
Built in variable speed playback
I can’t tell you how painful this was to build (hands up if you love native C++ code?), but the end resulting is amazing. No more expensive, crashy plugins to download to get variable speed playback in Pocket Casts. We’re the first podcasting app on Android to do this, and the difference it makes is huge. You can go all the way from 0.5x to 3.0x. My personal favourite is setting it to 0.5x, aka ‘Drunk Mode’ and listening to your favourite podcast host slur through all their words.
Stunning phone and tablet interface
We heard you loud and clear. Our previous iteration was a messy port of an iOS app built for Android 2.2. Times have changed, and so has our stunning new Holo style interface that works seamlessly on both phones and tablets.
Control your podcasts from the Notification Center, lock screen, headphones, bluetooth, etc. Basically your favourite app is only ever a tap or two away.
There are of course, many more features large and small, but for those you should really just go and grab the app, or find out more on our website! Happy podcasting to you all, from the team here at Shifty Jelly!
A few people were bemused by our decision to release Pocket Casts 4 first on Android. I suspect a few of them even think we may have lost our marbles. I thought I’d take a few minutes to outline exactly why we did what we did.
We’re a small team of only 2 developers and a designer. We realised late last year as we were working on a simultaneous release of Android and iOS that if we were going to have any hope of shipping either of them, we’d really have to choose one to do first. The take-away from this is simple: if we were bigger (say double our current size) we would have just done both.
Pocket Casts on Android has outsold the iOS version historically at about 5:1. That means for every 1 iOS version we’ve sold, 5 were sold on Android. The Android version also costs $1 more, so we’re making more per transaction as well. The reasons for this are a blog post on their own, but it’s a fact.
On Android there is no native podcasting solution, and we see a massive potential to fill that space. There are other apps out there, but we feel we have what it takes to become the dominant podcasting app on that platform.
Team rivalries should be left on a sports field. There’s no reason not to launch on Android first or iOS first in 2013. Both are massively viable platforms full of users who want to pay for great apps. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. The choice of platform all comes down to where your users are, and which one makes more sense for the kind of app you’re launching. It’s no longer a clear-cut ‘always iOS first’ world.
Let’s be honest, 2 years ago Android really sucked. The OS was a mess, the store was a mess, the SDK was a mess and the hardware was a mess. Today all that has changed, and it’s an amazing platform. That said overall the app quality on iOS is still far higher than Android, as developers catch up with all these new changes. There’s a point coming soon when Android will be full of high-quality apps, but there’s a gap in the market right now for small developers like us who are passionate about design to create something a cut above the rest. In short it’s currently easier for a good app to stand out on Android than it is on iOS.
So there you go, a short and sweet explanation of why we did what we did. Once version 4.0 is out on Android (countdown available here), we’ll be working on the iOS one next. We won’t be starting from scratch since a few months of development has already gone into that version, but there’s still a lot to be done. If you’re fascinated by the Android vs iOS development process, there’s a great interview with me available here.