Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Pocket Casts: A Better Smartphone App for Podcatching (Podcast listening)

I love listening to podcasts as well as creating them. (“Lightly edited” ones too!) When it comes to “podcatcher” software, I’ve shifted among a variety of desktop/laptop software programs as well as mobile apps over the past nine years in a continuing quest to find an easy/functional way to update/download podcasts for consumption on the go. For the past two years, my favorite iPhone podcatching app has been Podcaster. Thanks to a recent tweet from Korean educator David Jones and some testing of the app over the past weekend, however, Pocket Casts ($2) has now become my fav podcatcher. Here are a few reasons why.

Pocket Casts for iPhone

Podcaster had worked since January 2011 for me as a mobile podcatcher. By “mobile podcatcher,” I mean a software program which runs on my iPhone and does NOT require a tethered sync to my laptop. The following posts highlight my past endorsements of Podcaster in detail:

Recently, in the past two months, I’ve been unable to stop Podcaster from downloading numerous updates to my podcast subscriptions when I “refreshed” my individual channel subscriptions in the app. I tried changing different app settings, but couldn’t get it to function in a mode where podcasts would only download when I manually tapped/selected them. Podcaster also crashed periodically on me, which was an irritating problem. I love how Pocket Casts refreshes recent podcast episodes and lets me either directly stream them (a much faster experience thanks to the availability of LTE speed cellular data connections from AT&T in Oklahoma City on my iPhone5) or download them with a tap.

Bit by Bit Podcast on Pocket Casts

One of the best features I loved about Podcaster was its support for OPML files. OPML is a file format for multiple podcast subscriptions, and Podcaster allows users to export a backup version of podcast episodes to DropBox as well as import an OMPL file created with any podcatcher software. While Pocket Casts didn’t let me directly important my Podcaster OPML file via a web link (available if you want to use it for your own subscriptions) it did allow me to import them after I emailed myself the OPML file as an attachment. This is GREAT, since the last thing I want to do with my podcast subscriptions is manually import them one by one on my iPhone. Hopefully Pocket Casts will add the option to EXPORT and backup your OPML file similar to the way Podcaster does currently.

Importing OPML into Pocket Cast

Using Pocket Casts today, I listened to the first season 5 episode of the wonderful Seedlings podcast (@seedlingsPLN on Twitter) as well as last week’s episode of the NPR Technology Podcast. I also downloaded a few other episodes so I’ll be “prepared” for offline moments during some upcoming trips.

The main reason I don’t like Apple’s free “Podcasts” app is that it doesn’t support OPML importing. As an avid podcast listener, it’s VITAL that I’m able to readily import and use the “feeds” to the 57 podcasts I’ve subscribed to in the past.

What are you using as “mobile podcatching software” these days? Are you happy with it? Does your app support OPML imports? I’d love to hear more about what other people are using and enjoying for mobile podcast updates and listening.

My refresh of a mobile podcatching app this weekend got me thinking about how vital it is that STUDENT mobile devices in our schools support audio as well as video playback and recording. It’s wasteful, IMHO, to simply purchase eReaders for students as mobile learning devices. There is an amazing world of free as well as commercial digital content available today, and that content is only going to GROW in both quantity and quality in the years ahead. If we lived in a text-only Internet age, I could understand schools moving to embrace eReaders for students.

Thankfully, we don’t live in a text-only digital age. 🙂


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2 responses to “Pocket Casts: A Better Smartphone App for Podcatching (Podcast listening)”

  1. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Downcast is another iOS podcatching app to check out, it does support OPML importing and exporting. (Thanks Bill Featherston!)

  2. John Rundag Avatar

    I have been using Downcast for over a year. It does have OPML support and like the UI and controls. I listen to podcasts while I am driving, so if I want to skip forward or backward, I just reach up and swipe the screen to the left or right. Also, I listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed. This way, I can listen to a 40 minute podcast during my 30 minute commute.