Tag Archive | "podcasting"

Hey Apple, iOS 5 Needs Newsstand for Podcasts!

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ios 5 podcastiOS 5 was introduced in June, and shortly thereafter, we noted that Apple completely ignored making the much-needed upgrades to their podcast support.

iOS 5 was announced 5 months ago and went through 8 beta releases, and yet podcast support has remained completely untouched. Sure, podcasts are free (which is probably why Apple isn’t paying attention to them), but come on, Apple! You’ve build a perfect model of how podcasts should work, but you did it with digital periodicals instead!

Apple’s new Newsstand application, which is part of iOS 5, allows users to purchase periodicals through the App Store, which will then go to the Newsstand (which is like a little folder on your home screen to hold those purchases). By purchasing such periodicals, you are purchasing a subscription. The function of Newsstand is to automatically download the latest version of your subscriptions, in the background, and without your intervention. This is exactly what podcasts are lacking!

Not only has podcast support not been strengthened in iOS 5, it’s actually been reduced in a way. Previously, you could subscribe to podcasts through iTunes on your computer, and the latest episode would be put on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch when you performed a sync. Now that Apple has “cut the cord” with iOS 5, allowing devices to be configured and used sans a computer, there is no longer any native option to subscribe to podcasts for devices configured this way!

Many of you might say “well, just go find an app”, but unfortunately that isn’t an option. As with other apps, Apple sometimes cheats with their own applications — any normal third-party application cannot download such files in the background, or make background checks for new subscriptions. This means that if we are to get reasonable podcast support in iOS 5 or beyond, it is up to Apple to provide the functionality.

While you can see and listen to any podcast available on iTunes through the iTunes app on any iOS 5 or prior version of the software, there is absolutely no way to subscribe or have new episodes downloaded for you (aside from the half-baked sync method which requires a computer and manual syncing). It’s up to to the user to go into the iTunes app, search for their favorite podcast, then check the dates to see if a new episode has arrived.

I find it hard to believe that it would be that difficult for Apple to employ a podcast subscription solution similar to what they’ve done with digital periodicals with Newsstand. Hell, they might even be able to find an extra revenue stream by allowing podcast authors to charge for subcriptions to their shows, or to include iAds in podcasts.

As I said in my prior article on podcasts and iOS 5, “for a company that invented the product that is the namesake of the term, Apple has done a paltry job of handling podcasting on iOS devices.”

iOS 5 Still Lacks Basic Podcast Handling

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rssFor a company that invented the product that is the namesake of the term, Apple has done a paltry job of handling podcasting on iOS devices.

While iOS 5 undoubtedly added a lot of features that people have been wanting for a long time, I’m sorry to say that podcasting management appears to be as awful as ever in Apple’s latest version of the mobile OS.

For the uninitiated, podcasts are essentially internet radio shows. They are recorded, then offered up for download, generally on a scheduled basis. Apple’s very own iTunes is home to a huge number of podcasts that you can ‘subscribe’ to, but that doesn’t mean much.

The whole idea of a podcast is that you can subscribe to it, then get the episodes as they are released, rather than having to search around to find out if there’s a new episode.

You can actually access any of the podcasts that iTunes offers directly through the iTunes application on any iOS device, but it’s up to you to check back to find out when a new episode has been appeared, and you have to download each episode manually.

If you want to get your podcasts in a semi-automated way, you’ll have to subscribe to the podcast through iTunes on the desktop, then keep checking back to find out when a new episode has been found, then sync your iOS device to iTunes to get the latest episode. This doesn’t really solve any of the problems though (and might even be less useful then checking manually on the device itself).

Is it so much to ask that Apple allow me to subscribe to a podcast directly on my iPhone, then allow my iPhone to not only check automatically for new episodes, but download them without my intervention?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up and see a notification on your homescreen: “A new episode of your favorite podcast is ready for listening inch, then with a simple tap you could begin the podcast along with your morning routine? This sort of functionality is long overdue.

It seems really simple, but Apple has not taken podcasting very seriously (probably because Apple doesn’t make any money from podcasts).

iOS 5 is removing the need for a PC or Mac to set up and manage an iOS device. However, this means that people who choose to operate their devices in that way will lose out on the only (limited) podcast subscription support that Apple offers. They won’t even be able to sync the latest episodes from their computer, so their only option will be manually digging around, or using a third-party application (which can’t download new episodes in the background).

Perhaps with a little push, we can get Apple to get serious about podcasts with iOS 5. I’m talking: automatic checking/downloading, on-device subscriptions, the whole bit. A bonus would be if the place where you left off while listening would be synced to all of your devices through iCloud so you could pick up where you left off on any one of them.

With serious podcast functionality, I’d finally be able to easily keep up with Chippy and the guys making the great Meet:Mobility podcast!

X-Fi Pro Go allows Skype Recording

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X-Fi Pro Go allows ‘What You Hear’ recording on netbook.

Originally uploaded by umpcportal.com

For anyone looking for a way to record Skype audio (or other two-way audio conversations) without special software, you might be aware that creative offer a ‘what you hear’ recording solution in their soundcards. You rarely find it on built-in audio chipsets.
For the MeetMobility podcast I tend to use two soundcards and a mixer to record the audio across two PCs but when i’m out and about I don’t have that luxury. Skype audio recording via paid plugins is a possibility but I’d rather have something more flexible. Obviously I cant drop a PCI card into my netbook but there’s a USB solution that works.

Introducing the solution i’m going to use at CeBIT next week for our MeetMobility.com podcast next week. The Create X-Fi Pro Go USB sound module. It’s not cheap (I paid around 40 Euros) but it solves the problem by offering ‘What You Hear’ recording.

I just tested it with Skype and Audacity and it worked. Skype seems to want to mute the headphone i’m using on the start of a call but I supect I can solve that problem. If not, all that’s needed is a manual un-mute from the control panel after you’ve started the call.

Everything is confirmed working on a single-core netbook too. Try doing that on an Android Tablet!

X-Fi Go! Pro Arrived

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Why, you may ask, did I just buy a USB audio stick? The answer – ‘What-you-hear’

This is going to allow me to record Skype conversations by using a netbook without Skype plugin software. At least that’s the plan!

At about 40 Euros it wasn’t that cheap but I can’t think of a better way to record our next Meetmobility podcast at Cebit next week.

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