Android: Google is giving podcast fans a free and easy to find app, Listen, that searches, downloads, queues and plays audio shows. It’s great at finding and playing podcasts, but could be just a bit more intuitive in managing them.
I’d previously pointed out Acast as a highly configurable, worthy podcast manager in our roundup of 10 neat and productive Android apps. While Listen is a bit easier to get into, the type of users that does heavy podcast listening may find themselves wishing for a few of ACast’s options.
When you first arrive in Listen, you’ll want to search out podcasts to subscribe to. Listen’s search is powerful and accurate, as you might expect, but clicking on a result gives you the option to “Add to queue” or “Listen now,” with “Subscribe” tucked away as a check box in the upper-right corner. Adding a show to your “Listen Queue” from any screen gives you the ability to download, stream it, or play it if it’s already downloaded, but that leads to the kind of second-guessing—will this show here stream or download when I’m done with my current listening?—that makes software a less fluid experience. On the plus side, you can save and subscribe to podcast searches as well as feeds, so if you wanted to keep up on every podcast discussing, say, healthcare reform (and, hey, more power to you), you could do so across the broad spectrum of audio out there.
Listen isn’t too confusing for the simple grabbing and listening of podcasts, and having another free podcast client in the Android Market is definitely a good thing. But giving users the ability to better control when podcasts are downloaded, perhaps only over Wi-Fi or in a separate queue, would make it even better. Listen is a free download for Android devices only.
Listen [Google Labs]