We made Pocket Casts v1.0 for iOS back in January of 2011 with one clear goal in mind: we loved podcasts and wanted them on our phones. It turns out a lot of other people wanted exactly the same thing, the app really took off in a big way.
After releasing it we started to get a lot of requests from an entire group of phone users who were left out in the cold: those running Android. At first we ignored them. We felt like we were too busy and neither of us had ever used an Android phone. But they kept wearing us down, and eventually one of them mailed us a phone. So we did the crazy thing (believe us, a lot of people said it would be our downfall) and brought out an Android version. Today it outsells our iOS version in a big way, it’s the most popular product we’ve ever made.
In 2014 we brought desktop users into the fold with our web version. Again people told us we were crazy to not build natively for the desktop first. Again, the app was a resounding success. Our web app, at a once off $9 fee has outsold most other podcasting apps on any other platforms. People love it, they can easily fire it up at their work places, or at home, or any computer they find themselves in front of. And yet again we learnt some valuable lessons: ‘sometimes you need to ignore common wisdom’ and ‘making podcasts available in more places can only be a good thing’.
So as 2015 was looming large, we were once again having déjà vu. A whole new group of users were left out in the cold: those on Windows Phone. Yet again none of us had ever used a Windows phone and we made the same argument “we’re too busy”. It rang hollow though, our team is now 5 people, bigger than the 2 it was in 2011 when we launched our first version. We have more resources and less apps than we used to. And again and again, these people would tweet at us, email us and just generally tell us how much they were missing the Pocket Casts experience on their Windows Phones.
So yet again, we’ve done the crazy thing. The unconventional thing. We gave those people what they wanted and brought podcasts to another platform that needs them: Windows Phone. Today we’re extremely proud to announce that it’s available right now in the store:
Version 1.0 is all about making sure we build an app that is both true to Windows Phone and featured enough for us to love. I myself have been using it as my only podcasting app for the last month, and each time I felt something lacking with it, I added that in. Some of the highlights include:
- Sign into your existing sync account (or create a new one) and watch all your podcast subscriptions, episode filters and play statuses sync over. Of course any new podcasts you add, and where you’re up to also syncs back from Windows Phone to your other Pocket Casts devices!
- Take advantage of variable speed playback and listen to your podcasts at your pace.
- Turn on auto download to always have your podcasts ready to go at a moments notice.
- Create your Up Next list, and enjoy continuous playback of your podcasts in any order you like.
- Discover brand new podcasts in our featured and trending sections. We’re amazed at how many new podcasts get their start in life thanks to being featured on our platform.
- Configure our skip buttons to your liking and skip the boring parts, or jump back to the bits you’ve missed.
Just like all our other app launches, this is version 1.0. Your feedback will help us shape version 1.1, version 2, and so on. Shifty Jelly is committed to supporting and updating what we release into the world, this new platform is no different.
But enough talk, if you have a Windows Phone, come and join the fun.
We’ve been toiling away on this update for many months now, incorporating a ton of feedback from you and we’re finally ready to share the latest and greatest version of Pocket Casts ever. We know you’re keen to jump right in and check it out so here are some brief highlights of the features we think you’ll be most excited about:
We’ve given a lot of thought to Google’s Material Design visual language to produce an app that includes bold graphics and meaningful animations, while maintaining a familiar interface. This is much more than just a skin and we’re sure you’ll agree that both light and dark themes look amazing.
Up Next has been brought to the forefront of the UI for easy access and control of continuous playback. You can now add, remove and jump between episodes, all from the mini player.
Managing episodes has never been easier. Swiping to the left on an episode row will toggle between played and unplayed.
We worked long and hard to answer the question: ‘How can we improve your listening experience, without interfering with what the podcaster intended for you to hear?’ Enter, audio effects. Volume boost works by increasing playback volume without changing your device volume, allowing you to listen over loud background noise without fear of blaring notifications. Silence removal helps you get through more podcasts faster by reducing the length of extended silences, while maintaining the natural pacing and cadence of your favorite hosts.
You can now learn about and share your podcasting habits with the world.
Control the app from your Android Wear device, just like a superhero/ine. Launch Pocket Casts, jump between queued episodes, play, pause and skip, all from your itty bitty wrist.
Of course, no update would be complete without bug fixes and performance enhancements, so we’ve included a bunch of those for good measure.
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!
Poor desktop web browsers. All people ever talk about these days are mobile phones and apps. They must feel so left out! Well no longer friends, no longer. We’re proud to officially announce that Pocket Casts is now available on the web!
Starting today, we’re letting anyone who owns one of our existing mobile apps, and has registered a Pocket Casts sync account in them, try it out here:
The web app syncs your podcast subscriptions that you already have on your phone, and where you’re up to in each episode. This means you can open your browser, log in, and start listening straight away. It plays both audio and video files so you never have to be without your podcasts again. Whether you need some podcasts to listen to at work, at home, or even at that hipster coffee shop we know you hang out at, we have you covered.
So go crazy, try it out and send your flowers, feedback and felicitations our way.
This is only the beginning. We have a tonne of new features planned. Everything from working more closely with our mobile apps, to allowing new users to sign up directly from the web. Our office whiteboard is littered with so many ideas and plans that sometimes it starts to take on a life of it’s own. The future is white, bright…and covered in white board marker…actually so are my hands.
So go ahead, log in and enjoy some amazing podcasts. We know we will.
We’re a wee bit excited in the office this morning. We’re adding something very cool to the Pocket Casts universe very soon. If you want to join in the excitement, head on over here and sign up:
Between this, the iOS 8 updates that we’re working on, and Android L we’re insanely excited about the future of all our apps on all your platforms.
We wouldn’t normally link to podcasts we’re on, but for the first time in history all 3 of us are on the same one. Iterate 43 featuring the Shifty Jelly Team is well worth a listen, especially if you want to destroy any preconceptions about how awesome we are ;)
There exists a perception out there in the ‘real world’ that Independent Software Developers like ourselves are working on all our apps, all the time. If we ‘fail’ to release a new version of an app after a few months, some people seem to consider the app to be abandoned, and start asking us where the updates are. Today we’re going to share a shocking secret with you:
Developers, from little Shifty Jelly all the way up to legends like Panic, generally only work on one app, at once.
I want you to sit down and think about that. This means that when we say “We’re working on a massive update for Pocket Weather AU” that we’re not working on Pocket Casts, or Australian Weather. There are a few of you out there right now with a ‘well, obviously’ expression on your faces, you’re excused, the rest of you though, I know this comes as a shock. The other shock is that apps take a long time to build, but more importantly updates take a great deal of time as well. There’s also the fun of commercial realities. From time to time we take on interesting client work, because it’s interesting, but more importantly because it lets us do interesting things, like say feed our families, and our contractors. Thus, another shock comes about from this conclusion:
While we are working on projects for clients, we aren’t working on our apps.
Damn, where’s that gasp Emoji when you need it so badly? So what are we trying to say? Simple that we love all our apps, and we’re taking the time to make our updates great. If it’s months since an app has been updated, don’t give up hope, we’re in this for the long run.
It’s no surprise that most people don’t understand the sheer volume of effort that goes into creating and maintaining an application. Two years ago we didn’t really understand that either, and we launched so many new applications without thinking through the consequences.Who could forget our Pocket Weather AU app on Android, something which we’ll soon fix, but which has to go down as one of our biggest mistakes of all time. It turns out with just 2 developers and 1 designer, we can’t maintain 10 different apps…who knew? That’s why about 2 months ago we removed a lot of our apps from various stores, and have now honed it down to just 3: Pocket Casts (iOS and Android), Pocket Weather AU (iOS and Android) and Australian Weather (Mac).
Finally, allow us to make the rest of this year easy for you to understand. Right now, we’re working on Pocket Weather AU 3 for iOS and Android. It’s been many months of work so far, and we’re getting close to the end. We hope once the update is out, you’ll see just how much time and effort we’ve poured into it, and why these things take as long as they do. After that’s done we’ll be working on Pocket Casts, making the iOS version run on iPad, updating the Android version, and adding some very cool new features to the Pocket Casts Family (hint: no hints). Lastly we’ll update our Mac app Australian Weather with some fun new features and data. And that my friends, will take the entire rest of the year. Welcome to the fun world of Software Development :)
At Shifty Jelly we only build apps that we want to use, and for a long time now we’ve been missing one thing. Accurate, easy to get to Australian Weather, on our Macs. Well it is missing no more! Introducing Australian Weather for Mac:
So if you live in Australia, and have a mac, you know what to do: Buy it now!
Still not convinced, then allow us to help you. Lion has been the #1 paid app in Australia for as long as we can remember, so we’d like you to help us take the big cat down:
Do it for Australia! Send the big cat a message, your time has come!
And yes, before you ask, this is a hint of things to come if you own an iPod, iPad, iPhone or Android Device…more Pocket Weather goodness will be coming your way this year :)
It seems these days you don’t have to go far to find people that want to belittle Android, often for reasons they feel are perfectly objective and valid. I’d call out Marco Arment and John Gruber as two of the biggest offenders, but the problem runs far deeper than that. Gruber plays with Android phones and always seems curious, but he’s someone who loves iOS, and just doesn’t get why people choose Android. As for Marco, how many Android apps has he made? 0 as far as we’re aware. He thinks it’s pointless, and would be a waste of his time. Would it? As someone who develops for both platforms, we’d like to delve a bit deeper here. This is for all the Marcos & Grubers of the world. Before we continue though, can we just note that I haven’t called Gruber or Marco a ‘fanboi’. I would love it if we could just erase that word from our vocabulary in 2012. To be clear: calling someone a ‘fanboi’ is not a valid argument, it’s just plain idiotic.
First some background. We’ve been in the iOS app store since August of 2008, which for those that are counting is only a month or so after it first launched. We’ve been on Android now for about a year. We make serious apps like Pocket Casts and Pocket Weather AU, things that take a lot of development effort and involve serious server back-ends. We’ve made enough money since then to support 2 full time staff, and 2 part time designers. Yes we’re the guys who had the run in with Amazon, the email from Steve Jobs, and we’re not millionaires.
So first, let’s cover the Android/iOS myths that absolutely infuriate us:
Myth 1: Android users only buy Android because they are cheap, and they have no idea what OS it’s running
Fact: We talk regularly to all our Android users, and the #1 reason they buy Android is because they prefer it. It’s different for every phone and every person but there’s normally a hardware or software reason they choose Android over iOS. In every case they were aware of the iPhone, a lot even owned an iPhone in the past.
Myth 2: iPhone users only buy iPhones because they have an Apple logo on them
Fact: It should be as obvious as myth 1, but no matter how fanatical some Apple lovers might appear, they choose the device because they like it, because it suits the way they want to use the phone and integrates into their lives.
Myth 3: You can’t make money in the Google Market selling Paid Apps
Fact: As a developer who earnt more in the Android store this month than on the iOS store, with a paid app (no ads), we’re fairly certain we can call this one busted. Here’s a graph for you visual types:
Two points to make here: firstly yes, you can make real money on Android. Secondly Pocket Casts on iOS has been quite a success, yet the Android version has made it look like a dismal failure. 95% of all Pocket Casts revenue in November was made on Android, not iOS.
Myth 4: Android users don’t care about quality, smoothness or well designed apps
Fact: If you haven’t realised by now, it should be becoming clear, you can’t stereotype the users of a platform into a neat box. We’ve found the opposite though, Android users love quality and well designed apps as much as their iOS counterparts. There are people that prefer Android, just as there are people that prefer iOS. You get a free head slap if you were thinking that’s just because they hate Apple. You don’t have to hate something to love something else.
Myth 5: Apple/Google need to lose so that Google/Apple can win
Fact: It’s infuriating (have we over-used that word yet?) to see people debate who is winning in the mobile space, Apple or Google. They do it by market share, they do it by profit numbers. Here’s a radical thought: they are both winning! Every month sees their install base grow, at a very rapid rate. Why can’t they both win? The mobile space is huge, and there’s no logical reason you can’t have both Apple and Google win, without them annihilating one another…so can we just stop with this already?
So here’s what it comes down to as a developer: your customers are choosing both Android and iOS. If you have the resources, you should be developing for both. You can choose not to of course, but that’s your loss. It’s almost 2012 let’s stop pretending that Android users are all pirates with leprosy.
Finally, we’d like to publicly challenge Marco Arment to bring Instapaper to Android and drop the negative attitude. We’ll bet you one large cup of our finest Australian Coffee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how great the Google Market is. In many ways it’s a better place to be than iOS, since so many developers are ignoring it, and yet there is a massive install base waiting to give you their money.
Update: Marco responds here
Feel like getting a taste of Pocket Casts without having to pay, now you can!
Just in case you’re still reading this:
– Limited to 5 podcast subscriptions
– Instant refresh (our server monitors your feeds, so your phone doesn’t have to. Save your data & your time!)
– Stream or download without file size limits, over 3G or WIFI.
– Background downloading on supported devices (so you can do other things while your podcasts download)
– Quick skip feature, one tap of the screen and you can jump forward or back through your podcasts
– Supports Air Play for both audio and video podcasts (so you can stream them to your speakers, or Apple TV)
– Supports headphone controls & multi-tasking toolbar
– Playlist for continuous playback
– Watch video podcasts as video or audio
– Variable playback speed
– Podcast chapter support
– Download two files at once, and feel like you’re from the future!
– Share your podcasts, episodes or even your position in an episode with anyone who cares
– Maintains where you are up to in each of your podcasts (streaming or downloaded) and restarts from there next time you play that episode
In the full version:
– Unlimited number of podcasts
– Automatic cleanup of old episodes, which you can choose per podcast or globally (or both!)
– Push notifications when new episodes are available
– Settings for all sorts of things, how far to skip forward and back, stop downloads on 3G, etc
– OPML import & export
– Ability to have custom cover art and titles
– Warm fuzzy feelings (think puppies, kittens and rainbow unicorns) knowing you’ve supported a small developer