If you fancy radio shows in the car and on the commute, then chances are you've thought about checking out one of the many podcast apps out there which allow you to listen to a wide variety of different shows that span all kinds of content. Podcast apps aren't exactly in short supply here, as Android itself has loads of them, but each tends to offer something that is unique to itself, and this is where each tends to find its crop of users as some will appreciate what one podcast app has that others do not. Podbean is one of the many podcast apps available on Android and while it certainly does offer some features that many of the others will also offer, it also has features that are unique to itself. We've been using Podbean for the last few days to see what it's all about and while this isn't a new podcast app it has been consistently updated and has added some new features over time, with the most recent update being last month. Let's take a closer look at Podbean and see what it has to offer.
First and foremost, if you're thinking about jumping into the world of podcasts, you'll need to head to the Play Store and download Podbean.
Right off the bat the first thing you'll need to do is either sign up for Podbean using your email address or sign in using a social account, like Facebook. Directly after this though, you'll be presented with a screen that asks you about your preferences for podcasts based on the genres of content you'd like to listen to, whether it's comedy, science, technology, gaming, food, health and lifestyle, sports, or many others. Once you've selected what genres you like and start subscribing to certain podcasts, you'll find everything on your main page with thumbnails for every podcast you're following.
A couple of the coolest features that Podbean has to offer is the ability to enable the Intelligent Speed and Volume Boost options. While the Volume Boost lets you enhance the volume of each podcast you listen to by normalizing the sound, the Intelligent Speed option can be extremely useful if you want to speed up your listening. If you enable this option, (which you can find on each podcast page by hitting the icon that looks like a speedometer) then you'll see a slider bar with varying speeds of playback, including the normal 1x speeds, 1.5x, 2x, and even 2.5x the normal speed of the playback. You can even slow things down to half the normal speed if you want. While most times I found myself listening to things at normal speed, once in a while I would crank things up to 1.5x to get though a podcast quicker as I could still understand everything being said but it took me less time to finish. That said, even if I listened at the normal rate, with Intelligent Speed enabled the app removes any pauses/silences to reduce listening time without distorting the audio at all. This was useful during shorter bike rides when I tend to throw podcasts on.
Another useful feature is playlists, and while this might not be unique, it's definitely a feature you'll want in a podcast app as once in a while you may not have the time to sift through each and every episode you want to listen to episode by episode. To be more specific, it might not be feasible for you to listen to a podcast episode, then go back to your list of stuff and choose another, then rinse and repeat for every episode. This is where playlists come in as you can set aside 10 or 15 minutes and pick and choose everything you want to listen to, save it to a playlist, then when you're ready just pick that playlist and not have to touch the app again.
Every time you open the app after it's been fully closed down you'll end up on the recommended screen which is the main page. Here you'll find all kinds of podcasts based on the genres you selected in the beginning, and these will change from time to time so it always appears as if the recommendations are fresh. This way things don't get stale and you're not always looking at the same list of suggestions. This is a super useful page for discovering new content, though if you prefer a little bit of control over what you want to look through there are other tabs on the main page to check out, such as top 100, hot topics, and categories.
The recommended page also has a floating action button that allows you to record your own podcasts that are up to 90 minutes in length, and if you feel like jazzing things up a bit there's an option to add background music for a light undertone so it's not just talking for a straight hour and a half. While not everyone will care for having background music if they're listening to your podcast, it can keep things from being a little boring so long as the background music isn't drowning out your voice. Once you pick music you're also not stuck with it for the duration of your recording as there is a switch to change music if you want, and you can also pause, redo, edit and save your podcasts from this page through the controls at the bottom of it.
Once you pick a podcast you like and head to its main page, this is where you can see the breakdown of all the available episodes, what dates they were uploaded, how long they are, and what the episode number is. There is actually a decent amount of detail here that allows you to get your bearings. Up towards the top just above the list, you'll see tabs for podcast episodes you've downloaded, or you can simply go through all of them, and just above that there are options to follow a podcast if you enjoy it, as well as read through the comments.
Speaking of comments, once you're listening to a podcast episode, this page will have your pause/play and fast forward/rewind controls, as well as a box in the bottom left corner for adding your comments. You can also see how many comments have already been left and next to that there is a button for liking the podcast (the heart icon).
Naturally, you may want to be precise with what you're looking for and if you want to narrow things down a bit you can use the search button icon at the top of the main page. Here you'll see a predefined set of tags that may or may not relate to what you were looking for, but there is also a search box where you can type in any keywords you want and find something that you might enjoy.
While there is a fair amount of features and such that are front-facing and visible from the main pages of the app, if you dig into the settings menu you'll find a handful of extra features too, like the night mode theme which is useful if you're using the app at night and want something not as bright. You'll find a host of other controls and options here too, like the toggle for enabling autoplay, the toggle for enabling the lock screen player, and even where podcast episodes are stored. These are just a few other options too as there are quite a few more, and truth be told the app has a lot of features that make the app worth checking out.
- Speed (5/5) - There's was nothing slow or sluggish about this app in the slightest. Using it all the way through was an enjoyable experience.
- Features (5/5) - Tons of features. Record your own podcasts, set up playlists, browse, search, and more.
- Theme (4/5) - Sort of minimalist design and Night Mode is a nice touch.
- Overall (4.5/5) - A very well-rounded podcast app with loads of features and it's easy to use
- Night Mode
- Easy to use
- Record your own podcasts
- Intelligent Speed
- Volume Boost
- Playlists creation
- Comments for social interaction
- Option to change storage location for downloaded episodes
- A large list of podcast genres
- Some users may find that the app has too much going on as there are a lot of features included, though this should be thought of as more of a benefit.
As stated above there are tons of podcast apps available, and finding the right one for you make take checking a few of them out before you settle on something you really love. Having said that, Podbean has lots to offer and it's free, so that alone is reason enough to give it a try and see if it fits your needs. Moving beyond that there is lots of other stuff to love, like the Night Mode theme, and the option to record your own podcasts. This is actually a really great feature and with the addition to add background music I found it to be a cool offering that not all podcasts apps will have. If you haven't settled on a podcast app yet and you are looking, definitely give this one a shot.