Ronny Lam

about://tech

How I Listen to Podcasts

In a previous post I talked about the why of listening to podcasts. This post is about the how. I started listening to podcasts on my Apple iPod last year.

I discovered some podcasts in the iTunes-directory and downloaded them. The iTunes-directory is very nice to search for podcasts and try them out. When I liked one I started to download it. I didn’t want to use the iTunes program for this purpose because that would require a computer and damage my workflow. But the workflow was still not optimal. For downloading the initial podcast, no problem. But how do you know when there is a new item? Well, you open the music app, go to the podcast, hit “get more episodes” and get send to the right directory in the iTunes app. Most of the time you will find out that there is no update. You then either go back to the music app and try the same sequence for the next podcast or hit search in the iTunes app and enter the name. With 15 different podcasts to follow this is quite a hassle.

This was the moment I moved to RSSPlayer, which is a great app! I searched for the RSS-files of the podcasts I liked, most of them could be found through its native search, and entered them in the app. Once in a while I let the app look for updates and when updates are found download them. You then have an agenda of unlistened podcasts which is kind of like a playlist. RSSPlayer plays the files itself which works great. There is even a built-in web browser to surf the web while listening to a podcast. This is needed because Apple does NOT allow third-party apps to play in the background and files downloaded by RSSPlayer cannot be played by the music app. Another thing I found out was that publication in iTunes is sometimes hours behind RSS-publication.

And that is the reason I changed my workflow again. I really like to listen to a podcast and at the same time mail, twitter or use other apps. On the bike or while running I like to have iTalkingClock say the time every five minutes. This is all impossible with RSSPlayer. So what I do now is look for updates in RSSPlayer and download the podcasts through the music app and iTunes, hoping that Apple is not too much behind. Although I really like RSSPlayer, background playing is too important for me, accepting the extra worflow. I am sorry Alex.

With OS 3.0 came the option to listen to podcasts at double (or half) speed. This is a really great and time-efficient option. I was stunned that listening to speech at double speed is not that much of a difference to normal speed. It is not as noticeable as with music. This is great: you get twice the information at half the time!