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A Fling with A Pocket Cast and Back to the Dogg

December 3, 2011

Vista busy cursor I have not looked back since ditching ACast in favour of DoggCatcher as my Android podcast app of choice. ACast had been reliable to a fault in fetching new podcasts quietly on cue in the background and at first I was not convinced DoggCatcher was quite as dependable.  But it soon settled down to a seamless podcast capturing service and I stopped worrying about it.

There was though one infuriating bug, affecting playback via stereo bluetooth. I nearly always listen to podcasts over A2DP, whether in the street with my bluetooth headset or in the car. I have my Android phone set up so that the forward/back buttons skip ahead 60 seconds or rewind 30 seconds respectively, very handy for fast forwarding past adverts and occasional uninteresting content. The skipping/rewinding always worked flawlessly if I was using the DoggCatcher interface on the Android handset itself, but not so if using the physical buttons on the bluetooth headset or in the car (my Lexus has the audio controls on the steering wheel). The skip forward in particular was very laggy, either failing to work at all or doing so after a long delay. Worse than that, a second attempt to skip forward had the infuriating tendency to jump directly to the start of the next podcast on the playlist, meanwhile deleting the one I had been listening to.

This became so irritating that I tried a newer podcast app, Pocket Casts. I have to say that I initially liked Pocket Casts a lot. I liked the colour scheme and the modern, slick look of the interface. I loved the fact that the response to forward/rewind button clicks over bluetooth was instant and never abandoned a podcast in mid-stream. Against that, it was very fussy about podcast downloads. The feed update cycle was lightning fast, because it happens on the vendor’s server, but if no wifi was available the downloads themselves would be flagged as failed.  That is fair enough to the extent I had specified download over wifi only, but I expect the podcast app to complete the downloads automatically once I am back in a wifi zone. Pocket Casts requires you to restart such downloads manually. And the force closes on playback started to get out of hand.

In the end I went back to DoggCatcher and was just careful with skipping forward when on bluetooth. That is, until I contacted the DoggCatcher developer and pointed out the problem, citing Pocket Casts as an app which gets that bit of functionality right, even if other problems let it down.  To his credit, the developer has taken note and addressed the problem.  As of the latest version, numbered 1.2.2919, the bluetooth bug has gone away. DoggCatcher now reigns supreme.


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