Pocket Casts, or how I got my Bluetooth Groove Back

I have a long commute home in the evenings. Long. On a weekend day, its 30 minutes. On a workday, its 45 minutes to an hour. 

Committing seppuku and/or quitting my job are not available options (its a great job, actually), so I’ve been filling the time with satellite radio and NPR. 

However, my husband opened my eyes to the world of podcasts. Ok, podcasts I actually wanted to listen to…several friends had tried to get me to open my ears to podcasts, but if they put you to sleep, you don’t really want to listen while you’re driving.

In any case, I am now an addict of NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and The Thrilling Adventure Hour (as previously mentioned on my blog). The problem was, I couldn’t figure out how to take them with me in my car that didn’t involve bringing the ancient iPod to the altar main computer, plugging it in, using iTunes (which I hate with the passion of a thousand dying suns and which hates me more than that with all its crashing, and “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t let you do that”-ness) or another program (I had been using Jriver Media Center, but they recently updated and they don’t have older downloads that would work with my license, and i’m not that excited about paying $20 to upgrade when I hate this whole process anyway…) and then pulling down the podcasts (or somehow figuring out how to schedule that, which, as far as I can tell, involves the sacrifice of pigeons and a full moon), and then moving them to the ancient iPod. Then the ancient iPod must be transferred back to the car, and this entire process repeated each time I run out of podcasts. 

Thus, my love for podcasts has waned. 

However, it was suggested to me that I have a smart phone and the smart phone has Bluetooth. And Bluetooth allows your phone to use your car speakers to make sound. Hmmm, says I. If there were a podcast positive app in the app store, my love of podcasts for my commute could be rekindled. 

After batting my lovely lashes at my husband to pair it with the audio, I got to work on looking for a podcast app. The first few I tried required pesky things like reading the instructions, or only being able to select the podcast I wanted to listen to from the available list they provided. 

Then I found Pocket Casts.

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It is not a free podcast application, and it is over my rule-of-thumb limit of $2 for a decent Android app. HOWEVER, it took me two seconds to figure stuff out. 

You can select podcasts it knows about from its giant list ‘o’ podcasts. Or, you can enter the URL for a podcast in that it doesn’t know about, and it will do that, too. 

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It will fetch the list of all available episodes from that podcast. Then you click the “down” arrow to download the episode (or episodes) you want. 

When it’s finished downloading, you can click where the arrow used to be and play. It will play from that podcast down to the next one (you can change the sort order in the upper right corner so that it plays most recent to oldest, or vice versa podcast by podcast or for all the episodes you have on your device).

It makes discovering new podcasts pretty easy, as well, with categories to go through and recommendations (I am now a listener of Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Star Talk as a result of recommendations). 

You can pause, skip forward, skip backward and play from the interface, and it has a widget that settles into your lock screen so you don’t have to unlock the phone in order to do any of those things. You can mark episodes as played (or all episodes as played).

You can share episodes or podcasts with others through the share function, though “email” is the only default method for sharing (you need to select “other options” and then your twitter, facebook, or g+ yourself to share). 

On the whole, I don’t share podcasts (or podcast episodes) with other people, so while this was a bit awkward, I didn’t mind.

In all, I like it. There are a lot of free podcast tools out there, but this did what I wanted it to do, its pretty, its fast, and there are no ads. Well worth the price tag.

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