Google’s podcast manager for Android, Google Listen, was starting to get really messed up when playing podcasts over Bluetooth in my car, so I hunted around for a suitable replacement. If I wanted to go really low tech, I could use Google Reader and then download the mp3 podcasts to my Android phone. But there’s a better way. If you have an awesome data plan, you can stream using Stitcher, but I really wanted to download them to my phone over wifi so I wouldn’t stress my data plan. Pocket Casts from shiftyjelly did just that. I originally ran Pocket Casts on my Samsung Galaxy S Captivate, and recently started using it on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
- Must download podcasts over wifi
- Must auto-delete old podcasts (I’ll only listen to a podcast once)
- Must take incoming calls or other interruptions and properly handle Bluetooth control with my JVC avx740
Nice to have: auto download and retry failed podcasts in the background. The wifi reception in my office can be a bit spotty in parts, so I’d like a podcast manager to tenaciously retry failed downloads. Realistically, I can just click the download all button when in wifi range, but this is 2012 damn it! I want my $2.99 app to do all that for me!
I primarily listen to podcasts on my daily commute. Pocket Casts alerts me when a new podcast I’m subscribed to is available, and if I’m on Wi-Fi at home or work, downloads it automatically. In the car, I have to pull out my phone and start Pocket Casts. I’d rather just hit play on my deck, but whatever. Once started, it plays the podcast just fine. Calls, navigation instructions, etc interrupt the podcast being played just fine. There’s lock screen control as well as a homescreen widget. I have Pocket Casts set to auto add any new downloads to the playlist as well as to delete any that have been played. The Pocket Casts Android app handles the use case that I outlined above just fine.
Knocks Against Pocket Casts
- The UI seems overbuilt for me. Several of the screens do almost the same thing, and I find that I don’t need 80% of the features provided. Maybe if you’re a real podcast power user, you’d appreciate some of the extra categorization and segmentation. I don’t really need it.
- The app developers seem to be in a state of flux on whether they use the Android download manager or their in-app one. It’d be nice if this was better tested to understand which should be used.
- For Ice Cream Sandwich, the system settings button should be used instead of the in-app gears.
Reviewed by Adriel Michaud on Feb 14, 2012
An easy to use podcast manager for Android
If you’re looking for a great way to spend some time in the car and not have to listen to commercials or the same song over and over again, load up a few hours of podcasts using Pocket Casts and you’ll be set.