PodTrapper – A BlackBerry Podcast Aggregator and Player

By Craig Johnston on 23 Dec 2008 01:07 am
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PodTrapper Podcast Manager for BlackBerry

Kevin and I love recording the CrackBerry.com podcast, and we know that all of you Addicts in the CrackBerry.com community enjoy listening to it. It is certainly possible to install a Podcast Aggregator on your computer and use the BlackBerry/Roxio combination to move those downloaded podcasts to your BlackBerry when you cradle it, but it is not as organized as it could be.

Roxio sees the podcast episodes as just audio files. It is still possible to listen to the episodes, but they remain un-organized, similar to very early MP3 players where audio files were organized into sub-directories on the player. With an iPhone for example, the podcasts reside in an organized way, even with their own category.

PodTrapper actually takes mobile podcast listening to the next step. It is a fully self contained podcast aggregator and player which allows you to subscribe to podcasts right on the BlackBerry, and download new episodes without needing to connect the BlackBerry to a computer.

Installation and setup

Installing PodTrapper is easy enough although I would have preferred the installer to automate the entire process, including extracting the BlackBerry client, making Desktop Manager aware of it, and then starting Desktop Manager to complete the process. Someone who is not familiar with what a .COD and .ALX file is, would be a little lost. For those of us who are already familiar with how to manually add BlackBerry applications via the Desktop Manager, it is pretty simple.

PodTrapper also comes with a Desktop Downloader. This Windows application will download podcasts on behalf of the BlackBerry if this option is chosen. I could only see this being used for BlackBerry users who have really high data rates. My favorite feature of PodTrapper is that it is can download podcasts over the air so I wouldn't use the Desktop Downloader.

The second installation option is to install PodTrapper directly from the developer's web site by pointing your BlackBerry's browser to http://ota.versatilemonkey.com

Versatile Monkey has also made PodTrapper available from the ShopCrackBerry.com Software Store, so you can also download the free trial and/or purchase PodTrapper from here.

Once PodTrapper is installed, you need to subscribe to podcasts. This is one of the areas I think needs improvement. The reason I say this is that when you choose to add podcasts, you are simply presented with a blank screen where you are expected to type in the subscription links of the podcast(s) that you want to subscribe to. For someone used to iTunes or some other podcast aggregator that normally presents them with a large catalog of choices all organized by category, this blank screen will throw them off.

To those already familiar with what type of URLs to look for, will seek them out on the web sites for each podcast, and enter them here, each on a separate line. For example, to subscribe to CrackBerry.com's podcast, you would enter "http://feeds.feedburner.com/CrackberrycomPodcast" (without the quotes). One improvement I can envision for this screen is for it to follow the URL entry rules. For example, when entering an URL in the browser, a space becomes a period. When entering a URL in the PodTrapper screen, a space is just a space. Of course the other change I would like to see, is PodTrapper connecting to an online podcast database to make it easy to add podcasts without having to hunt down the subscription link.

Using PodTrapper

Once you have added, or subscribed to the podcasts, PodTrapper begins to download them. By default it is setup to download the latest two episodes for each podcast. PodTrapper never does too many things at the same time which makes it a very friendly BlackBerry application. PodTrapper never hogs the CPU, but quietly hums along in the background downloading your shows.

The PodTrapper main screen displays your list of podcasts. Under each podcast title there is an indication of how many episodes not downloaded, how many new episodes, and how many you have started to listen to (or watch) but not completed. When you click on a podcast, you are presented with the episodes. An indicator bar shows download progress (if an episode is still downloading), or if the episode is fully downloaded and you have started listening or watching, shows the completion progress.

PodTrapper
Figure 2: PodTrapper Podcast Screen

If you then click on an episode, you will see the typical play/stop/fast forward/rewind buttons, along with the episode details. At this time no album art is displayed. Podcasters typically use the album art for the podcast logo.

PodTrapper
Figure 3: PodTrapper Player Screen

If you are listening to (or watching) a podcast and you receive a call, the podcast is paused. After the call, the podcast does not resume automatically, however if you open PodTrapper, it will have remembered where you were in the episode, and clicking play will resume right from where you left off.

Configuring PodTrapper

PodTrapper's settings mostly revolve around when podcasts should be downloaded. You can enable or disable downloads over Wi-Fi, or if you are worried about data charges or you do not have an unlimited data plan, or if you are roaming, you can enable or disable downloading while on cellular data. If you prefer to have the podcasts download when your BlackBerry is connected to a Windows PC, then you can enable this option.

PodTrapper
Figure 4: PodTrapper Settings Screen

You can even setup PodTrapper to only download new podcasts while your BlackBerry is charging. This is a good option to enable if you don't want your battery to be eaten up during the day downloading megabytes of data, when you'd rather keep the charge for making calls, doing email, and browsing the web.

Conclusion

There are certainly many more good things than bad (or unfinished). I think that PodTrapper is a great pod catcher (or aggregator) for the BlackBerry. It is very easy to use and works as described. Some people have indicated that using PodTrapper on the BlackBerry Storm is a bit clunky, but this is more than likely due to the interface changes of the Storm. I am sure that the developer will fix those shortly.

Most of my concerns are related to setup of PodTrapper, but using it is easy. It provides an all-in-one pod catcher/aggregator solution for the BlackBerry and allows you to be self-sufficient and not rely on a PC to download podcasts. I found the developer of PodTrapper, Marcus, very responsive (even when he is on vacation). A responsive developer is always a great thing because it means that your reported bugs and enhancement requests will be taken care of quickly.

PodTrapper sells for US$9.99 and you can download the free trial and buy it from ShopCrackBerry.com.

19 comments

ExtraMedium

Looks like a cool app so far, but I really hope they add the ability to go in landscape mode for Storm users.. there's not a lot more frustrating in this world than trying to type URLs with that 2-letter per key keyboard in portrait orientation.

Zak8022

This seems like an awesome alternative to Viigo's hasn't-been-ready-for-some-time Audio section. From Craig's review, it does seem like it needs some polish, but for the price, looks very useful. I rarely use my BB as that much of a media device (shame on me) but if i ever do, I'll definitely pick up PodTrapper.

EdwardK

My main reason to own an iPod Touch was for listening to podcasts during my commute. Since owing a BB, (Pearl and now Storm) I've always wondered why there wasn't a better podcast player. I've been using this app for a little over a week so far and love it. Does it need a little polish, probably but works exactly as I need it to so far.

My favorite feature is the ability to (re)download a podcast. When previously using iTunes, there was an issue where podcasts would download, but occassionaly one or two would go missing from the hard drive (for no reason). The only way to get them back would be to delete the subscription and resubscribe. I'll never have to deal with that again. I DL the podcasts over-the-air to the Storm and if for some reason one were to disappear (hasn't happened with podtrapper yet), I can (re)download.

If you listen to audio/video podcasts, this is a must own. It's got a free trial, so try it out and see for yourself. If you decide to buy, snap it up while it's on sale.

Bla1ze

I love this application, it's awesome for what it does..the only issue I have with it is that for being such a great app, it sure has a NASTY looking UI!

This of course in no way hinders the usage of the application, but I sure would like to have it looking better as the UI looks like it was designed for a 7290 lol!!

Casper TFG

I would rather wait for a slicker release by the folks at Viigo.. The UI looks a tad bleak for my taste..

But I am v keen to get going re podcasts..

pastorhudson

I have the Storm. Podtrapper works great.
Go to options/advanced options/applications/podtrapper press blackberry button and select disable compatibility mode. Restart podtrapper and it will switch from portrate and landscape and it works fine.

skelzer

Awesome review Craig, very thorough... thanks! This app fills a huge void when it comes to current BBerry functionality. Now I can listen to your podcasts on the way HOME from the office. Cheers! -s

David H.

Here's a tip: The easiest way to add Podcasts is to visit the Podcast website on your Blackberry browser. Clink on the "subscribe" link, which usually takes you to the RSS feed page. Then, open your menu to "copy" the link and then "paste" it into PodTrapper. (Much easier than typing in those long urls....heck, copy-and-paste is one key reason I bought the Storm)

So far, though, I haven't been entirely pleased with PodTrapper. Its interface is not well-customized to work with the touch screen (I spent a frustrating half-hour just trying to adjust settings, such as allowing me to download podcasts OTA. The default setting is wireless)

lil_sunshine

Great review Craig. So, as an avid mobile podcast user who has been holding off on switching to Blackberry because the podcatcher software is so lacking, I have a few questions:

- How does Podtrapper compare with Audiobay?
- Can you categorize the podcasts? I download, certain podcasts every day and others every once in a while. In BeyondPod, I can pull up podcasts by category and just download that category?
- Can I import my podcast subscriptions from Google reader like I can in BeyondPod and Viigo?
- What in the world is taking Viigo so long?

DeanAmmons

PodTrapper has been a very nice addition to by BlackBerry Storm. While I agree with others, it would be nice to have a catalog of Podcasts to select from, I had no problem emailing my current iTunes URLs to myself then cut and paste the addresses into PodTrapper. This was especially true after using pastorhudson's tip for getting landscape mode to work. The PodTrapper player is certainly adequate and I love the auto bookmarking for long Podcast, allowing me to come back anytime to finish listening. However, I also like the ability to use the media player for the bluetooth interface as well as the ability to setup a play list before heading to the airport. Unfortunately, when PodTrapper downloads an episode, it does not capture the catalog details until the episode has been started, making it invisible to the media player. So my one and only request would be to properly catalog new episodes, allowing me to use the media player without the need to start and stop each new episode. But I still highly recommend the software for anyone who would like to capture Podcasts directly to their Blackberry. That functionality works perfectly.

PsychoGeek

Hi Craig,

Thanks for introducing this great app. I love it but I have some issue with it using my Curve 8310

- I noticed this app overwrite my call in. I can make a phone call but when someone try to call me while the podcast is downloading the caller will be notified that I'm out of coverage area or the call will go straight to my voicemail (if I on my voicemail). Only if the caller get lucky between the download the call will get connected (I tested it and managed to get connected after my six attempts)

- If I paused the podcast after few minutes it will playback by itself.

At the same time
- I wish this app can insert or suggest podcast the way we insert and search our RSS like Viigo so no need to search for the correct URL

Mountain

There is definately an alignment issue with this software. It works GREAT but when you try to use the touch screen you have to constantly hunt for the "sweet spot" to highlight the podcast you want to listen to.... or especially when trying to delete a podcast.... heck, I have to try for almost a minute sometimes just to get the "yes" button to light up so I can click it? Have you guys tried this? Whats up with that?

Lizard Breath

I installed podtrapper 3 days ago, and used the podtrapper interface to point to URLS. I have several entered, but on all of them it says: "Download Manager is: Paused: Media card unavailable"

I have a media card present, have loaded music and video to it. So what is next?

Thanks for any & all help!

davidnyc

I just purchased PodTrapper, and I love it so far. I previously used an iPod nano to listen to podcasts, however that did me little good when I forgot to sync my iPod to my computer. With PodTrapper, I'll always have the latest podcasts, so that won't be a problem. The programmer seems to be quite responsive to feature requests and bug fixes, so I can only expect the app to get better. 10 bucks for unlimited free entertainment is a good deal!

Scott Shultis

While the interface can't be called pretty, this program is great! It allows you to partially listen to podcasts, and come back to them later, even multiple files. It's great for bouncing around podcasts and not losing your place.

They give you 30 days of full functionality, it's well worth downloading. Podcasts were a pain until I found PodTrapper, now I can grab podcasts from wherever I happen to be.

bill724

I've been trying to really replace my iPhone with my Storm and this app finally let me do it. Better podcatching than iTunes, fast forward/reverse 5/30 seconds (which iPhone can't do). Sure the UI is a little clunky looking, but the thing works really well for me. Nice job Versatile Monkey. I just gladly paid my $9.99 for this app.

djcyph

best thing about this review is that you have DANCE DEPARTMENT as one of your podcasts!!!!! sick, best beats around...ever need a dj crackberry?

crazyphoneguy

I love this app, and use it everyday. I don't even have to carry around my mp3 player (Zune player) anymore. Highly recommend app for Crackberry Nation.

kleinline

I really wanted to love this app. It looks great on my Blackberry Bold. The navigation is less bad than most apps for BB. The UI in general is pretty darn decent and the settings are exactly what I'm looking for.

BUT it doesn't work! It errors out when I try to play what it's downloaded:

"It appears your media card isn't available to play: show name.mp3."

OR a series of errors like

"Error playing media: 6: Corruption was detected in the media file. Redownloading may correct it."

Click OK button, then see another error

"Error palying this episode (0x2): (0)
net.rim.device.internal.media.RimMediaException/Media unloaded while initializing"

Drat! This app was exactly what I wanted... if only it worked!