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January 27, 2011

18

Introducing – Pocket Casts

by shiftyjelly

We here at Shifty Jelly love podcasts. They’ve literally changed the way we commute to work. Ever since episode 1 of shows like This Week In Tech, Macbreak Weekly & Buzz Out Loud (and more recently Tech News Today) we’ve been hooked. We’ve had our listener comments read on the show, seen podcasts start up and disappear and more recently debated furiously over whether Molly Wood or Tom Merritt make for a better host. In my case I started listening on a green iPod mini, followed by a black iPod (the predecessor to todays classic), then the iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS and now iPhone 4. The way I got them on there hasn’t really changed that much. I would subscribe through iTunes, then sync them to my device. Sometimes (because iTunes takes the Internet equivalent of forever to show new episodes) I would download the episode manually, copy it over and add it to a playlist called ‘podcasts’. More recently I experimented with the iPod & iTunes apps on the iPhone to try and download podcasts over the air, but it’s always been a bit clunky. I couldn’t download episodes bigger than 10MB (or more recently 20MB), I’d have to hunt for episodes myself, and so many other frustrations.

So today we present you with the fruit of those frustrations, Pocket Casts (iTunes Link). We’ve been using this app for the last 4 weeks or so to listen to our podcasts, making tweaks and adding features over that time, and we think it’s time you joined us. Here’s some of the things we’ve been enjoying:

  • Instant refresh: we keep track of when new episodes are available, on our server, so your iPhone doesn’t have to.
  • Push Notifications: add all your favourite podcasts, then watch new episodes appear as they become available.
  • Download without limits: choose to download or stream new episodes, with no file size restrictions. (note that Apple bounced our first version with streaming over 3G, so in v1.0 you can only stream over WIFI. We plan to correct this though in the next release, you can still download over 3G with no limits)
  • Background downloading: start a download, then go and check your email, or play your favourite game while it finishes in the background (on devices that support multitasking, limited to 10 minutes from when you close the app).
  • Quick skip: one tap of the screen and you can jump forward or back through your podcasts.
  • New should be new: in most cases our app will pick up new episodes long before iTunes does, no more going to the authors website.
  • Video & Audio: because sometimes, as scary as he may be, Leo’s shows make more sense as video.
  • 3 Themes: people are different, and so are Red, Blue and Orange.
  • Titlefication: podcast authors love long podcast titles, you know, the ones you can never read. Our system is smart enough to strip out the bits you don’t need, so that when a new podcast appears, you actually know what it’s about! We can also adjust it on the fly, so let us know if we missed any.
  • Background Playing: when you close the app, the podcasts keep playing, you can also control them via the multitasking bar. Obvious we know, but we figure people would ask if we didn’t list it.

Podcast Library

(iTunes Link)

Oooh updates are available!

(iTunes Link)

Listening to a show

(iTunes Link)

Are you really still reading this? Go and grab it:Β (iTunes Link)

Edit: Our app was rejected by Apple initially, for allowing you to stream podcasts over 3G. For now we’ve disabled 3G streaming of podcasts, but we plan to try to add it back in the next release in a way that makes Apple happy πŸ™‚

 

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    When streaming is added this’ll be an insanely awesome app…till then it’s only insanely great πŸ™‚ Can you explain what’s happening when you import your podcasts from the iPod app?

  2. Jan 27 2011

    I think we’ve found a way to do streaming that Apple will approve of. It will mean popping up their player instead, but I think that might be a good compromise anyway.

    So when you import from iPod it’s attempting to look through all the podcasts you have in your iPod (if any) and import them into our app. If it’s not working for you then maybe drop us an email (you can do it from within the app).

  3. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Right, so I’ll have 2 copies of each podcast…all 34 of them? And all episodes (I have 30+ of some of them)? Eeek πŸ™‚ A better way might be to build a subscription list, rather than import the actual audio files, and allow the user to download and stream selected podcasts on an as-needed basis.

  4. Jan 27 2011

    The import function is just a way to save you from building your podcast list all over again. The idea is you do it once, and then never worry about it again. And it’s like you say, we don’t import the audio files, just the subscriptions.

    The end result should be that you never need to open the iPod again when it comes to dealing with podcasts πŸ˜‰

  5. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Whoopie!

  6. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    How come you’ll need to use the Apple player to stream podcasts? Stitcher uses it’s own…and I believe it works on 3g.

  7. Jan 27 2011

    Welcome to the fun world of Apple Reviews(TM). We already know other apps are allowed to do it, but one day they’ll have an updated rejected. Just depends which reviewer you get on which day sometimes. No big deal, if you really love our player so much you can just download the podcast over 3G. Still one better than the iPod which has size restrictions πŸ˜‰

  8. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Liking it more and more after a long play and a think about how my listening “workflow” will change if I use this app. One thing I’d LOVE would be a way of seeing which podcasts I’ve partly listened to. Give me that and I’ll die happy.

  9. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Oh and a way to edit the order that podcasts are listed. Some I listen to are daily, some are weekly and a few are irregular. I want the daily ones first.

  10. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Cleanup should do played, not downloaded, as the default.

  11. Gerry
    Jan 27 2011

    Me again. When I play an episode from a list of episodes and it finishes, I’m returned to the icon list of all podcasts. That’s annoying. It would be better to go back to the list of episodes.

  12. Prez
    Jan 28 2011

    Top work all round guys. Very solid app. Keep up the great work.

  13. Jens
    Apr 27 2011

    Hi!

    I like the app. I just delete all my podcast subscriptions out of itunes.

    One question, is there a way to mark an episode as unplayed?

    Thanks!

  14. Apr 28 2011

    There is no way currently to mark episodes as unplayed, though you could play them again, jump to the start, then press pause. It’s a bit clunky, so maybe we’ll add something better in a future version πŸ˜‰

  15. May 15 2011

    The ability to listen at 1.2x, 1.5x and 2.0x normal speed appears to be missing from the Android version.

    Am I missing something?

    If it’s not there, it is slated to be added?

  16. May 15 2011

    You’re not missing anything, the 2x feature is not yet available in Android. The Android media playing libraries don’t support it, so it’s a lot of work to add something like that. We are still looking at our options to see what the best way to go is.

  17. Green
    Nov 2 2011

    Great App! Would there be any feasible way to have an additional option after listening; such as “dump to dropbox” or something? I tend to hold on to comedy podcasts and would eventually move them to my home computer from my PDA. A feature like “dump to dropbox” or something similar would help automate this process. Thanks

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