iTunes 4.9: Podcasting Software for the Masses

Thanks to Apple and iTunes 4.9 I've finally got the whole podcasting thing. As I was cycling to work this morning listening to a podcast of one of my favorite shows - NPR's "On The Media" - it dawned on me at last what a cool technology podcasting is.

Previously I hadn't seen the benefit of podcasting. It all sounded like far too much hassle to have to go and download podcasts of your favorite shows and then manage them without getting them mixed up with all of your regular music.

I worried about filling up my PC and my MP3 player with old shows and that I wouldn't be able just to play all my music on random any more. To be honest, it seemed to me like tech-geekery for the sake of it.

iTunes Brings Podcasting to the Masses

iTunes 4.9 has turned me into a complete convert. The key (and what I didn't realize) is that you can subscribe to podcasts of your favorite shows and also decide how many episodes you want to keep on your computer. So, you don't have to worry about filling up your computer with unwanted audio files - iTunes automatically overwrites the old ones for you. Nice.

"But how do I find these podcasts?" you might wonder. iTunes has an extensive online directory of podcasts plus a Top 100, which has all the most well known stuff. Finding shows to listen to is not going to be the problem. Finding time to listen to it all, however, is.

A Disruptive Technology?

I actually think this technology may well prove to be disruptive. In the same way that MP3 players seemed like geek gadgets to begin with but now everyone has one, I think podcasting will take off in the same way. I mean, it's basically TiVo for radio, and look how DVRs are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Believe me, this thing is going to be big.

Take my situation. I'm certainly not going to worry about being home at 6pm on a Sunday to catch "On The Media" anymore - now I can listen to the latest show anytime I want. I haven't tried any music radio yet, but the prospect of being able to skip ads (and songs you don't like) is naturally extremely appealing. I can only imagine what the commercial radio stations must be thinking.

A Small Niggle

The one downside I have noticed so far is that each show or episode is presented as a single track. So, if you're listening to a 60 minute show and you stop (or get to work) before the show is over, keeping your place is a pain.

I know my Rio Karma has a bookmark function, but it's kind of clunky - it's almost easier for me to just remember where I stopped and fast forward to the stop when I want to start listening again.

If there was some way that bookmarks or chapters could be embedded into a track, that would be very useful.

So, if you haven't dipped your toe into the podcasting waters, I would certainly recommend giving it a try - you never know, you might get hooked.

Posted on: June 30, 2005 | No comments

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