When Google announced it would be bringing podcasts to its Google Play Music app, many hailed this as the arrival of podcasting in the Googlesphere (including the Android and Google Home operating systems), likening it to the support Apple has provided for podcasting thru its desktop iTunes application and iOS Podcasts app. At the time, it felt like Google’s aversion to supporting podcasts had truly come to an end, and that having podcasts available thru the Google Play Music app would cause a massive stream of new listeners to come flooding into the podcasting space. But podcasting’s entry into Google Play Music came off with more of a whimper than a bang. Since then, very little has happened with podcasting and Google.
A recent teardown of the APK (Android application package) for the beta version of Google app 7.3 uncovered code within the app that appears to provide one-click style subscriptions to users of the app:
Last year, Google took a (half-hearted) stab at supporting podcasts with the Play Music app. The same day, in a much less expected move, it also became possible to listen to individual episodes right from a Google search. Fast forward several months and Google Assistant also gained the ability to play podcasts, which turned out to be a fairly natural feature for Google Home.
While Play Music allows users to subscribe to podcasts, listening to one through Google Search or Assistant meant asking for shows by name, and may also require a specific episode number if you want to hear anything but the most recent recording. Now it looks like Google is going to close that gap with built-in podcast subscriptions.
By all appearances, podcast subscriptions will be accessible in Google Assistant settings and will likely be treated much like subscriptions to news sources. The one obvious difference is that Google will track which episodes have been played so you won’t miss any or have to listen to repeats.
It’s unclear if this new functionality will automatically sync with users’ current Google Play Music libraries, or if it’ll be completely separate from that service. Regardless, it’s good to see some progress being made by Google in terms of podcast consumption.
It seems like a given that the iTunes desktop application and/or Apple’s Podcasts app for iOS are the default programs most people use to listen to podcasts. And while that may be true, a number of third-party developers have come up thru the years to challenge Apple’s grip on the podcast consumption market. Many of these non-Apple apps are designed to work on one platform. For example, Overcast is only available on iOS. Downcast is a little better, being available on both iOS and MacOS. With the release of Pocket Casts 6, app developer Shifty Jelly is bringing your favorite shows to you, regardless of which device you’re currently using. And the app is also sporting some new features:
Redesigned user interface: Shifty Jelly describes the new Pocket Casts interface as, “Simple to understand, easy to use,” and “It looks good as well.” Adding, “Many things can now be accomplished faster than before and it just looks and works so much better.”
Trim Silence and Volume Boost: A special algorithm ensures that podcasts are played back at a loud (but still comfortable) volume, making it easier to hear the overall production. This feature also removes excessive amounts of silence between speaking passages, effectively cutting out unwanted dead air.
Picture-in-Picture and Split-Screen Support for iPad.
Up Next: This feature makes it easier to decide which podcasts to play after the current selection.
Dark Theme: An alternative look for the Pocket Casts app that makes it easier to use during nighttime hours.
We live in an ever-increasing world of “unlimited” services. But one place that utopian vision of “everything all the time forever” doesn’t really apply is podcast media hosting. That’s why it can be useful to know how big your media files will be before publishing them to the web. But the only method that’s usually available to determine file size is to simply encode a file and check its properties. That process works but it’s far from efficient.
Billed as “A bit rate and file size calculator for audio engineers,” a new mobile app called Bit Bandit can help you calculate file size before encoding:
Use it to quickly calculate the bit rate of a piece of audio based on its sample rate, bit depth and channel count. Display the results in units of your choice.
Bit Bandit can also calculate file size based on bit rate. Commonly used bit rates are included by default.
I downloaded Bit Bandit and did some testing. It has two sections. A Bit Rate section and a File Size section. The Bit Rate section is really more of a curiosity than anything else. But it might be fun to play around with if you’re a math nerd.
The File Size calculator found within Bit Bandit will definitely be of use to podcasters. In the example below, I told Bit Bandit to calculate the size of a file that’s 1 hour, 30 minutes long, and is encoded at 96kbps. The app told me that my file would be in the neighborhood of 63.3MB.
Bit Bandit is a free download for both iOS and Android. The app developer has suggested there will be a paid version of Bit Bandit with enhanced features in the future.
Compared to other platforms, Google’s Android operating system has been somewhat lacking in good podcast-production apps. Audio software developer Auphonic is working to change that with the release of Auphonic Edit 1.0 for Android.
Auphonic Edit is a non-destructive audio editor and recorder with a focus on ease of use and high-quality audio. Combined with Auphonic’s integrated web service, users can access all of the post-processing and publishing tools Auphonic is known for.
Here are some features offered in Auphonic Edit 1.0:
Render audio sessions into uncompressed WAV or compressed AAC files and share with any other Android app on the device.
Upload audio files, including metadata and chapter marks, in the background directly from the application to Auphonic’s web service.
Encode audio files in MP3, Opus, AAC/MP4, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, and more.
Loudness normalization to new broadcast standards: EBU R128, ATSC A/85, mobile audio, and more.
Intelligent leveler: Balances levels between speakers, music, and speech – no compressor knowledge required.
Automatic noise and hum reduction.
Publish your finished files automatically via YouTube, SoundCloud, Podlove Publisher, Spreaker, Libsyn, Blubrry, Archive.org, Dropbox, (S)FTP, HTTP, Google Drive, WebDAV, Amazon S3, and more.
Player FM recently released version 3.5 of its podcasting app for Android. The new version of Player FM comes with some impressive new features that should come in handy for those who are looking to improve their podcast-consumption experience.
First up is Player FM’s new Unified Search Results feature:
1000+ topics, 100,000+ series, and over 5 million playable episodes are now searchable from the same, universal, result screen! Using the new series carousels and topics dial, get what you’re looking for right away. In addition, you’ll get a row of results matching your own subscriptions, so it’s a quick way to jump to your favorite show.
Next on the list is the app’s redesigned Discover and Catalog features:
There’s a podcast or 10 for every occasion, making discovery a key challenge for any podcast app. Player FM has from day one focused on the discovery problem, providing an independent, open-source catalogue covering hundreds of niche topics. The Discover tab has been redesigned to make browsing a pleasure, whether you to find shows to subscribe to or episodes to play right now. As with the new search screen, you’ll see a unified screen per topic – explore related topics, series, and episodes in the one place. It’s the simplest and cleanest navigation model since the app launched.
One of the more interesting features of the new Player FM app is Flexible Download Order:
So you’ve just heard about this hot new show and you simply have to hear all episodes before sunset! Player already lets you set a custom download limit for this series to make sure you get a bunch of recent items. But you probably want to start from the start if it’s a “serial” storyline, a multi-part documentary, or a lecture series. In that case, the usual “get latest N episodes” setting won’t work for you. With Player FM 3.5, you can now optimise any series for binging with flexible downloading order. Set your new obsession to download “oldest unplayed” and cancel your weekend plans.
Player FM 3.5 can even assign customized notification tones to specific podcasts on a user’s subscription list, making it easy to know when new episodes are available from their favorite shows.
To learn more about the latest version of Player FM, click the link at the top of this entry. The app is available as a free download from the Google Play Store.
Podcast services provider Blubrry brought its new Subscribe on Android initiative to podcasters earlier this year. Subscribe on Android allows podcasters to add code to their websites that gives Android users a simple one-click subscription option, similar to the experience iOS/iTunes users have with Apple’s one-click subscription protocol.
When Subscribe on Android launched, Blubrry had partnered with the developer of the Podcast Addict app to ensure that the system would work properly. Since then, the Blubrry team has worked hard to bring Subscribe on Android to more podcasting apps. This week, the company announced that it has partnered with a total of five developers, thus allowing Android users who listen to podcasts with either Podcast Addict, Podcast Republic, Simple Podcatcher, Podcatcher Deluxe or Video Podcast Deluxe to gain the benefits of one-click subscriptions.
In a separate announcement, Blubrry stated it will be working with Reactor by AppPresser to make customized mobile apps for podcasters. These special apps will integrate with a podcaster’s existing WordPress website, allowing mobile app users to access podcast episodes as well as other content. Podcasters who are interested in using Reactor to create mobile apps can take advantage of a 30-day free trial and learn more about pricing and features at the Reactor website.
Disclosure: Todd Cochrane, executive editor at Podcaster News is also CEO of Rawvoice, the parent company of Blubrry and I work part-time with the Blubrry support team.
The one-click method for podcast subscriptions has been supported by Apple ever since the company added podcasting to iTunes. That one-click convenience then carried over to iOS and the Podcasts app. And while this has been great for users of these Apple applications, Android users haven’t been so lucky. That is, until now.
…Android Listeners will be able to One Click subscribe to podcasts. One of two actions will occur when you implement One Click on your website.
1. If the listener has a one click supported app on their mobile phone the App will automatically load and the listener will subscribe.
2. If they do not have an app they will be sent to your personalized SubscribeOnAndroid.com page. Your show info and Album art will be displayed and below that will be list of One Click enabled applications of which the listener can install and start enjoying your show.
3. Get your embed code for your site by putting your podcast feed URL in the feed submission box on SubscribeOnAndroid.com website.
Existing users of Blubrry’s popular PowerPress plugin for WordPress will be able to easily implement the one-click subscription option for Android by activating the PowerPress sidebar subscription widget. Podcasters using other platforms will easily be able to add one-click codes to their websites with a simple copy/paste from the Subscribe on Android website. Blubrry also partnered with the developer of Android podcasting app Podcast Addict to ensure the new one-click subscription option would work smoothly upon launch.
Visit Blubrry’s dedicated Subscribe on Android website (linked above) to learn more about how you can add this new feature to your own website.
Disclosure: Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane is Executive Editor of Podcaster News and I work part-time with the Blubrry support team.
Crowdfunding services are making a lot of podcasting news as of late. I learned today that a company called Joyride has been reaching out to podcasters to offer its services. I hadn’t heard of Joyride before, so I decided to look it up.
On its website, Joyride breaks its service down into two sides. One for listeners, the other for creators. The side for listeners is pretty straightforward. It showcases the Joyride Android app (iOS coming soon), stating that listeners can easily find over 100,000 shows. From there, it shows a collage of podcast artwork, featuring many popular shows like Serial, WTF and StarTalk Radio.
For creators, Joyride touts that it can help a podcaster to, “Engage with your audience of passionate listeners
to build a sustainable income and grow your business.” The website explains how Joyride works:
Tech website macmixing got the opportunity to do a hands-on comparison between Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay during the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Android Auto and CarPlay are the two leading “connected car” technologies that promise to bring the functionality of smartphones to automobile dashboards. Many in the podcasting community believe that the connected car will be the next big growth area for the medium, as it’ll make it more convenient for commuters to consume podcasts while driving.
macmixing produced a video that demonstrates the functionality of both Android Auto and CarPlay:
Both systems support podcasting apps. But because Android has no native podcast support, Android Auto users will have to navigate to a page that contains third-party apps. With CarPlay, Apple’s native Podcasts app appears on screen as soon as CarPlay is selected on the in-dash touchscreen.
This is the first demonstration I’ve seen of these competing technologies and they both look promising for making it easier than ever to listen to podcasts on the road. But once again, Apple has put support for podcasts front and center, while Google still relinquishes podcasting support to third-party developers.
Rob Walch of podcast411 and LibSyn has said many times that, if you’re a podcaster, Google is not your friend. And when it comes to the connected car, that statement is proven correct once more.