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Review: BlackBerry Podcasts

By Joseph Holder on 5 Oct 2010 11:21 am EDT
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The CrackBerry Podcast is featured this week in the BlackBerry Podcast App featured carousel. Download it here to listen to our BlackBerry PlayBook podcast now!

CrackBerry Podcast in BlackBerry Podcasts App

For many things in life; the old saying, "You get what you pay for," holds true. Computers, DVD's, and car insurance come to mind. But the same cannot be said of Research in Motion's BlackBerry Podcasts app. Available at no charge in BlackBerry App World, the application handles virtually everything you can throw at it.

BlackBerry Podcasts is a tool for podcatching; it can automatically download and play both audio and video podcasts. But more than that, it makes finding new podcasts both easy and entertaining; it allows you to download or stream individual podcast episodes; and it makes sharing those podcasts as easy as pie.

Adding Podcast Feeds

After you've installed BlackBerry Podcasts from App World, finding and adding new podcasts is easy. Obviously, there's the option to manually add podcast feeds; but searching and browsing through the "Explore Podcasts" can be fun. Very similar to App World, the explorer first presents you with a variety of Featured Podcasts. Oftentimes, these are podcasts you'd never think to look for; but nevertheless turn out to be a rather interesting listen.

New podcasts can be found by browsing through 19 categories and over 1,300 available podcasts. If that's not your cup of tea, use Search to find feeds. The function searches through podcast names and descriptions to find what you're looking for. Finally, scroll through the list of the top ten most downloaded episodes to find out what other people are downloading. The list includes some rather interesting finds.

BlackBerry Podcasts

In the top ten list, it would be nice if there was a way to subscribe to the feed in addition to downloading popular episodes. If you enjoyed "Episode 057 - BlackBerry Torch / Tablet," it should be a simple click to add the "Crackberry.com Podcast" to your subscriptions. Instead, you have to back out of the list to search for the podcast yourself. Granted, that's a very simple process; but it could be simpler.

Previewing, Sharing, and Listening

BlackBerry Podcasts works best using a Wi-Fi connection, downloading your episodes quickly. Just want to download one episode from the feed? No problem. With BB Podcasts, you can choose individual episodes to download or even just preview them (streaming podcasts!).

Like many new BlackBerry features, BB Podcasts integrates easily with the social network and communication features of your Smartphone. Choosing to "Share" an episode allows you send a link via email, text message, BBM, FaceBook, Twitter, and any number of formats via Social Feeds. Clicking on the sent link immediately takes you to the episode's content; your friends and colleagues don't get presented with a page full of ads, and the link works in any browser.

Being a Research in Motion project, the BB Podcasts app uses the native media player for both audio and video podcasts. This provides both benefits and drawbacks. While playing one episode, you can scroll through other ‘casts in that same feed in much the same way you can scroll through multiple songs in an album. Listening via Bluetooth poses no challenges as the media player was built to handle that.

BlackBerry Podcasts

You can also save your spot in the current podcast (OS 4.6 only remembers the current podcast, where 5.0/6.0 can remember all podcasts) by pressing pause, then exiting the app with the End button.

Settings

The settings most important to the BB Podcasts app are the download options. You have the option to set the application to only download over Wi-Fi, only download while charging, and which episodes to download - among others.

BlackBerry Podcasts

Notably missing are the options to individually tweak each subscription and set a specific time for downloading new episodes. But if you think about it, those settings aren't really needed. Your specific time for downloading episodes would probably be while your device is charging; you can set BB Podcasts to only download while charging. Since you can download any individual episode within a feed and probably have at least 4 GB of storage on your BlackBerry, do you really need the option to manually tweak each subscription?

Final Thoughts

RIM's BlackBerry Podcast is a very well-designed app, incorporating the features you've come to expect from other podcatching applications. It also simplifies the experience, removing unused options and making the search for new podcasts entertaining, colorful, and easy. With the low, low price of free; the only thing you have to lose in downloading this app is a few moments of your time. And unless I'm sadly mistaken, it will be time well spent.

The BlackBerry Podcasts app is available for the BlackBerry Bold, Curve, Pearl, Storm, Torch, and Tour running OS 4.6 or later.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Automatically download episodes over Wi-Fi and mobile network
  • Podcast browser for adding new subscriptions
  • Download individual episodes
  • Top ten most downloaded episodes
  • Share episodes via social networks, email, etc.

Cons:

  • No individual feed options
  • No "recommended" or "related" podcast search
  • Cannot change automatic update frequency
  • Available only in the US and Canada for now (international expansion coming in the near future)

Download:

Reader comments

Review: BlackBerry Podcasts

14 Comments

I really like the podcast app....but the only podcasts I subscribe to are crackberry and ROFL...hopefully something else interesting comes along.

I have used the podcast app since I first heard about it. First I had it on my Bold 9000, and now on my Torch 9800. I only have 2 podcasts I follow on it now: Crackberry.com and Hak5. The crackberry one is usually a few days late being downloaded and I end up listening to it on the website or downloading manually before the app will download it for me. As for the Hak5, I have NEVER had it download any of the new episodes since the initial pull. I have it set to only download on wifi and I am on wifi for 16 out of the 24 hours of the day. I have tried manually refreshing to no avail.

Overall I would give the podcast app a 3 out of 5. I can think of a few others that would work better, but not for free like this one is. ;)

Podcasts are limited to 32MB for OTA (mobile network) downloads for both audio and video podcasts. In the near future, this is going to increase to 100 MB for audio and 220 MB for video. So good news coming soon for Tour owners!

Wi-Fi downloads are unlimited.

I'd love to use this app since it's got the same look and feel as the OS and is well integrated, but I can't. Tour users don't have WiFi and when trying to download a podcast over the air an error message is displayed saying the file size is too big. Hopefully RIM is working on a solution, but until then PodTrapper is a great alternative.

Got there before me; I was going to mention that here is another app that is only available in the US and Canada!

* No podcast bookmarking.
* Cannot download podcasts through USB cable using PC internet connection or at least allow syncing of podcasts with iTunes. I think this is desirable for BBs without wifi.
* Somewhat confusing UI. Maybe this just me.

Those are the main three things that made me use PodTrapper instead.

To me, the BBPodcasts vs. PodTrapper debate is analogous to the Twitter for BB vs. UberTwitter debate (except that you do have to pay for PodTrapper). RIM comes along with a first-party app that does a pretty good job, except that there was already a third-party app (free or premium) that was as good or better.

I tried both, though I haven't used BBPodcasts enough to be an "expert" on it. I though that it was fine, but the lack of podcast bookmarking is a MAJOR drawback to me. With about a 30-45 minute commute one way, plus other driving for work, etc., I'm listening to podcasts constantly. But some of my podcasts are as long as 2 hours, so I'm rarely going to listen to the entire thing. I expect that future versions of BBPodcasts should have bookmarking.

EDIT - Upon further review, it looks like OS5.0 or newer does allow for bookmarking on BBPodcasts. I still like PodTrapper better. :)

I feel like most people that were really into podcasts probably already paid for PodTrapper, and it doesn't cost us anything to CONTINUE using it. I just think it's a superior app, and there really isn't anything that I wish it did better. I'm constantly amazed that I ever listened to podcasts before I had my BB and had to manually select and transfer everything to an iPod from my desktop computer.

Like StormJH1, I tried both Podtrapper and the BB Podcast Player. To be honest, I actually prefer the BB Podcast Player because of it's simplicity and (to me) nicer UI.
I find that, like Ubertwitter, Podtrapper has far too many options and the sheer number of options available to you can sometimes get in the way of just getting into the App and enjoying the media.
I have about 10 podcasts I listen to on a regular basis and found it easier to handle them in BB Podcast player.
All i need is for them to add Bookmarking and I am golden!

I as well use Podtrapper and I love it. I listen to several podcasts and the best part is when there is an incoming call, text bbm, etc; the podcast pauses automatically and when you finish the call, text etc, the podcast resumes where it left off.

There seems to be a limit to the number of episodes you can download for each podcast or a limit on how far back in time you can go.

I want to download the excellent BBC A History of the World in 100 objects but BBPodcasts will only download the last 20 episodes. Ultra Podcast Player downloads them all.

A bug to fix in the next release maybe ?

I first downloaded the bbpodcast and I find it very nice and simple to use....I first installed it on my 9650 when using os 5 and also when I updated to the first os 6 leak 222,but now with the new 280 it seems to not work and give me this is not meant for ur carrier error,I know its meant for us and canada alone and I live outside those zones,it never presented a problem for me untill now have no idea how to fix it,tried uninstalling it and reinstalling the version I had on before but for the life of me I can't seem to find it on my bb...have no idea if its the new os leak build or something is wrong somewhere.anyone has that problem??

Just downloaded this yesterday, worked great, downloaded some older NPR Marketplace podcasts, subscribed, but then today no new episode is available, it is on the website, it is listed in the itunes podcast list as available, but not when I go to my Blackberry list, not even if I request it! So it appears podcasts are delayed availability on Blackberry compared to actual release.