Podcasting on Android

I made the plunge into Android with Motorola’s Droid Razr. (I couldn’t wait for the new Nexus). I do love it.. for all obvious reasons coming from an iPhone 3G.

It’s a bit of a time hog to get everything set up and one of the snags I hit was what to do with podcasts…

I’m huge on google reader so the idea of Google Listen with GR integration was really appealing, but looking in to it Listen seems like a big disappointment right now. BUT installing it allows me to get the “Listen Subscriptions” folder in GR.. and that’s where I started to find a good solution..

Then came Acast (the site seems to have been down for a long time now.. weird but this app works pretty good). It’s a bit heavy on confusing setup options and it’s missing a working playback speed adjustment (it’s experimental and buggy), but I like that it’s focused on awesome podcast features and leaves out any crazy music GUI. Oh, and the point is it syncs beautifully with Listen Subscriptions in GR. So now I can subscribe to any podcast, throw in that GR folder, and it syncs in to Acast. AND whenever I’m on another computer I can log in to GR and straight download / mark read whatever I want and it fits in to the workflow.

So I was a fairly happy camper, but still some awkwardness remaining a full iTunes transition. I don’t really know what to do with my music access from my phone. Motorola has a bunch of apps that I’m not to keen on. Motocast actually looks pretty cool but I started getting a weird crash error that hopefully gets addressed.. cuz that would allow me to just stream or download albums on to my phone’s native Music app, and I’d be happy to just keep that separate from podcasting. Work to be done there.

Now let me just recap a super annoying hurdle to my audio workflow for a long time.. How do you easily incorporate one(or two)-off mp3s that you find, you want to queue them to be listened to, but you don’t want to subscribe to the podcast necessarily. In iTunes I had to either:
(a) subscribe to the whole podcast, poach and listen to the episode, delete podcast when done;
(b) save mp3 file to computer where iTunes is installed, manually add file to collection, then manipulate the file type to get it to show up as a podcast;
(c) use some kind of hack like iTunes folder watch to pull them in to your collection.. good luck getting it show up as a podcast and I just never liked this option

So here’s where I got a bit excited, having found a solution to this problem. Using Dropbox and Dropsync, I synchronized a “podcast one-offs” folder locally on my phone. So from any environment (work, home, my phone).. I can save an audio file in to this folder and it will sync to my Dropbox and phone. Acast has a feature where you can create a feed out of a local folder, so everything I drop in there shows up as a feed in Acast, where I can see new files and queue them up on my podcast playlist. Friggin awesome.

I’m stoked to have this in place, and I’m thinking of just using separate folders for other content (music, lectures, audiobooks, etc.)… but I’m still on the fence about what to use for music, and a minor detail is you’d have to buy the full version of Dropsync.

Also, a potential improvement to this that I tried and failed, was to create an actual podcast feed from your Dropbox folder, which would improve things because right now the feed is appearing only on my phone and not with the rest of my podcast list on GR. If it was just a personal feed I don’t think this would violate Dropbox’s terms of use, so it’s just a matter of figuring it out technically. You could take the folder xml feeds and run it through Yahoo Pipes, or a program like Dropcaster.. but both of these options were a bit beyond me right now.. so if someone where to figure out the pipes option that would be sweet.

UPDATE: BeyondPod, if you download the beta apk, seems to be better than Acast in that it has the GR integration but also has great variable playback speed support.

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