One thing the iPhone has over its competitor devices running Google’s Android? Apple built music players long before it got into the mobile phone business. Portable media is much more tightly integrated into iOS than it is in Android.
That doesn’t mean Android devices are incapable of playing your favorite music or keeping you up to date on your podcast subscriptions – it’s just a little less intuitive. With a free app or two, your podcasts will always be waiting for you wherever you may roam.
These “podcatchers” often synchronize with Google Reader, so you can browse and sync on your desktop and have the same list available on your mobile device. Over a dozen well-rated podcatchers are available in Google Play, so it comes down to features, your comfort level with the interface, and what works best on your device.
Google Listen: Maybe it’s an obvious choice. Apple makes iTunes, the default podcast manager for anyone with an iPod or iPhone, so since Google’s behind Android, you should use their app, right? Maybe. If you’ll be subscribing to podcasts by clicking through their web sites or RSS feeds, go for it. If you want to search within the app, maybe not. That’s right, the search function of a Google product is lacking.
Podkicker Podcast Player: With a more spare interface and only audio support, Podkicker
bills itself as an alternative to “bloated” apps. If that’s what you want, it’s slick and functional. Search and Web clicking work well.
OneCast: There aren’t many options other than simply searching podcast titles, but it does look nice. It also says “You are awesome” on the home screen, which is pleasant.
CarCast: Search doesn’t find everything it should (really? There’s only one result for “superman”?), but web clicks work fine and the big buttons do work well in a car. There’s even an audio note recorder function to … remind yourself to pick up milk? I guess?
PODCASTS & BLOGS
MyPOD Podcast Manager Free: Most of the functions here are in a big scrolling list, and advanced options include adding feeds from a locally-stored file, browsing the Web within MyPOD, and importing from Google Reader. It distinguishes between audio, video, web and text feeds too, so your search will only bring back the kind of content you want (in theory, anyway). It’s probably the best all-in-one app on this list, so of course there are ads, but they’re the normal bottom-of-the-screen kind.
RssDemon and Feed+: These appear to be the same app under different names; RssDemon has far more usage. Clicking an RSS link on the web and searching within the apps work very well, once you figure out the menu. (Keep hitting + buttons to search for and subscribe to a podcast.) Both apps come pre-subscribed to a baker’s dozen blogs, mostly of the geek variety – Engadget, This Week in Tech, Dilbert, etc. You can delete feeds you don’t want easily enough.
Simple Reader: Yes, it’s simple, but it does what it advertises. Its search function distinguishes between text feeds and audio podcasts, and you can paste in a URL to subscribe. The web clicks, however, they do nothing.
PodDroid: The language barrier makes this Chinese app interesting to deal with, but the English is only quirky, not incomprehensible. The interface might appeal to you, but with ads and without web click support it’s not quite up to MyPOD’s quality.
Podcast listening might not be as celebrated on Android as it is on Apple products, but you have plenty of options to customize the experience for yourself. Go out and discover some new content!
John “jaQ” Andrews is a writer for mobile application development company Zco Corporation.