The Windows Phone Podcasts app has a lot to like but some key features and annoyances need to be in place to make it a slam dunk winner.
Much has been discussed among Windows Phone (and Windows 8/RT) circles about lack of podcast features in the phone and lack of a native app on big Windows.
I am a big podcast listener. Not huge, but I do listen to a few podcasts regularly. In fact, so regularly, that I have formed a nice list of things I would want in an ideal podcast app/service. The reason I put app/service is because we are now no longer in a single device world.
- Native apps for my devices: I use Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT and Windows 7. I would like native apps for at least phone and “Windows Store”.
- Catalog: Big enough, and fresh enough catalog so that I don’t have to add podcasts by URL.
- Easy subscribe settings: Options during subscribe should include auto downloads, number of episodes to keep, episode delete settings, etc.
- Remember played position: For each podcast, for each episode.
- Cloud: Sync settings, subscriptions and played positions to the cloud. Configurable setting for syncing on-device episodes to the cloud as well.
- Refresh/check for new episodes: Check for new episodes when app is opened, automatically. Also, check on a schedule that can be configured and have a default. So if the default is 3am and 3pm every day, I know when I get up and am ready for my commute, there may be some fresh episodes waiting for me. Same, with a 3pm check for the commute home.
- Playback speed adjustment: Must-have for me, at least 1.5x.
Some bonus territory items:
- Playback in the cloud: If my subscriptions, settings and on-device episodes are synced to the cloud, I suppose I should be able to play those episodes from the web too. That would take care of machines which don’t have native apps, for example Windows 7 or Macs/iPads/iPhone/iPod.
- Discovery: Based on what I have subscribed to, and perhaps extending it to my social networks, suggest other podcasts.
- Live tiles: I don’t care much about getting notified of new episodes, so I put this in the bonus territory. Live tile notifications of new episodes.
- Usage notifications: Notify (via live tile or otherwise) me about space used being above a certain threshold, or unplayed episodes going above a certain threshold.
Things I don’t care about but I have seen in some apps:
- Visual niceties: Like the tape player in the iOS app. Don’t care about it since I always lock the phone screen anyway.
- Social sharing: I don’t share either while listening or otherwise, so I don’t care about that feature.
Too much to ask? Is there any podcast app/service that does this already? I think Downcast on iOS comes very close in terms of functionality but they are only on iOS so far, but have expressed that they may look at WP with no real commitment provided. The iOS Podcasts app does not seem to delete episodes after they are finished which is a bummer (either a bug or a feature, but either way, a bummer for me).
None of the Windows Phone 3rd party apps do auto-download yet. There are some in the process of getting released with promised functionality but none generally available yet.
The native Windows Phone feature does not have a manual check for new episodes, and there is no clear understanding when exactly it checks for new episodes. Besides, there is no corresponding app on Windows 8, and of course, there is no playback speed adjustment.
Let me know if you find any compatible apps 🙂
Windows Phone needs a lot of fixes. This post goes into some key issues with Xbox Music and Video apps that need to be addressed quickly.