Redesigning the podcast-listening experience from the ground up
Android is such a popular mobile platform, and it's backed by a giant corporation, Google. Many users say that probably, the best Android apps are developed by Google itself... But, there are exceptions. Like, Listen, which is Google's app for managing podcasts. As a developer and because I have a lot of free time during my summer vacations, I decided to create a new podcast experience for Android, which is called Hipstacast.
The purpose of a podcast client is managing you podcast collection and listening to podcasts. Listen is synchronized with your Google Reader account, and you must have one to use it. Either, you can search for a show. But, here's one of the most important problems with the app. For example, if you want to search for a podcast that is produced by 5by5 and one of the hosts is Marco – and you don't remember the name of the show – you'd search something like "5by5 marco". But, unfortunately, the show you're looking for, which is Build and Analyze, doesn't appear on the results of the search. – The secret is using a powerful library provider to search. Hipstacast uses iTunes Search API to get the podcasts.
So, once you have everything set up, you'll probably want to start playing some of the podcasts you've just subscribed to. With Listen you have to tap four times to start playing a podcast. The problem is that the main screen doesn't provide enough information. In fact, you have to tap to "My Subscriptions" and then select a podcast and episode to start playing something. – Hipstacast's home screen shows the list of the podcasts you're subscribed to, with a number, which is the number of unlistened episodes.
The player interface is probably the most important thing of an Android app. Here it's the basic functionality of the app. Listen's interface has the controls – but, because of most podcasts are expected to be listened from the beginning to the end, not a lot of times the rewind, forward, etc. buttons are used. Obviously, the app remembers where you left off every episode the last time you started listening to it. – Hipstacast, instead, has a simple interface, and focuses on the listening experience, it doesn't have so many controls, and, features a nice way to read the shownotes, unlike Listen, Hipstacast supports lists, bullets, and other HTML content. Moreover, Hipstacast also has a feature that, in my opinion, every podcast host will like. It offers an easy way to donate to the show, with a button – which is displayed on the overflow menu or, pressing the menu button – and you'll be redirected to the provided URL by the show to donate.
Conclusion – TL;DR
Google's Listen app certainly needs an update (last one was on the 25th Jan) not just to improve "the stability and fix some bugs", it should feature a UI adapted to Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. Unfortunately, Hipstacast isn't available yet on the Play Store. However, if you enjoyed this sneak peek and you'd like to be a beta tester for the app, you can apply here. If you want more info, feel free to visit the website.