Monday, 11 February 2008

Listening to PodCasts on your Windows Mobile device

Over the last couple of years, I've had access to Windows Mobile devices suitable for listening to podcasts, however one thing I've struggled to find is decent podcast software.

There are two kinds - ones that just run on the PC, and have the ability to copy or sync with the device, and ones that just run on the device. Most of the PC-side applications tend to just add the downloaded audio file to Windows Media Player, and you then use WMP to synch with the device. One problem I've noticed is that the COM interface that WMP provides to these applications can be fussy about funny characters in playlist names (eg. ".NET Rocks!").

Windows Desktop

  • One of the first I tried was Nimiq which is pretty good, though there hasn't been any development since January 2006. As I've commented on their blog, it also has problems when it creates items for Windows Media Player to sync with the device.
  • Juice Receiver is one of the original podcast receiver apps, but I could never get it to work well on Vista. The last major release was July 2006.
  • Doppler also has issues with Vista and proxies. Version 2.0 is also from ~2006. They were working on version 3.0 for ages, and then moved over to CodePlex where there does seem to be some activity but no new releases yet.
  • It turns out Winamp also has some support for downloading podcasts and copying them to a device, but it isn't very stable (it always crashes the first time I go to sync the feeds), so I gave up on it after a while.
  • Newsgater have made FeedDemon free for personal use. This worked ok, but sometimes choked on some of the feeds (being a bit fussier than some about the XML validity). Newsgator Go! is Newsgator's mobile version but unless I'm missing something, it doesn't appear to support enclosures at all.
  • RssBandit is written in .NET, but while I tried it for a while, the podcast stuff really feels bolted on the side, and didn't work that well for me.

Windows Mobile

  • FeederReeder looks interesting, but you need to register in their forums to download, and just at the moment their forums hare having DNS issues.
  • Pocket Podcasts is a very simple open-source app. It refused to let me add the .NET Rocks feed, and the PC-side app doesn't understand ActiveSync so it couldn't see my device. No updates for around 12 months.
  • Hubdog looked promising. The app can use a local list of feeds or you can register on the site and store the list there (note, that this makes them public). There's a few bugs in it (eg. I couldn't delete an existing feed) and instead of just getting the latest 4 items (as I'd specified), it insisted on downloading every enclosure for the feed.
  • Podcastready has a mobile client, but it doesn't seem to work with proxies.

So as unbelievable as it sounds, I haven't actually found any decent podcatching software. I might have to get around to writing my own (though I'd prefer not to).

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