I no longer have a care in the world. Just a few days ago I was mourning the easy iPod function on my iPhone. But I’m all better now. Although I have an Android phone, I am fully capable of automatically downloading my audio and video podcasts automatically. Here is the best part: I no longer have to sync with a computer to make it happen. The worst part is that I actually had to pay for an app. This is crazy but I actually felt like it was seven bucks well spent. I average over an hour a day listening to podcasts as I commute. It is a big part of what makes commuting bearable. With apologies to the iPhone users of whom I am no longer one, you can try this app out for 24 hours and return it if it doesn’t float your boat as well as it does mine.
The good news for you Android folks is that want to try it is that I am going to explain it to you better than DoggCatcher explains itself. Even their screen shots appear to be of a defunct version. They do tell you what DoggCatcher can do. I’ll sum that up right now.
- It provides the entire spectrum of means by which one might subscribe to a podcast. If they haven’t indexed it, one can enter the RSS feed URL directly. I exported my podcast subscriptions to an OPML file and imported it into DoggCatcher.
- It downloads episodes automatically at a frequency the user chooses.
- One can customize how many episodes to download at a time and optimize battery life by downloading only when plugged in and on WiFi.
- It includes an audio and video player.
- It can filter episodes based on whether they are audio, video, or text.
The first thing one wants to do after installation is go to Menu>>Preferences. Work the options from the top to the bottom. They are pretty straightforward except for two that might stand a bit of explanation. “Number of Items” refers to the number of back episodes you want made available for download for each subscription. “Auto downloads” is the total number of episodes DoggCatcher will download at any one time for all your subscriptions. (You can later control the download queue by going to Menu>>Download Queue.)
The navigation isn’t self explanatory. I’ll explain that now. The first window that appears when you open DoggCatcher is on the home tab. From here one can access the main menu items we just discussed. Primarily the home window displays the list of feeds to which the user has subscribed. Touch the feed and it takes you to that feeds episodes (items) and shows their status as not downloaded, ready, or in the download queue. If it is ready, just touch to play. To see a description of the feeds from this window go to Menu>>Feed description.
To see a list of all the audio items available to play go to the second tab with the two music notes. To see a list of all the video items available to play go to the third tab in the home window sporting the movie reel icon. There is also a tab for news feeds. Touch an episode to play it. Also on the home page there is a filter tab with what appears to be a feather icon. The filter menu will pop up.
The tab with the speaker icon appears in the audio window. It is the player with the first episode preloaded. Warning. Do not long press the >>| button just to scroll through the episodes. It marks the current episode as done. Scroll through episodes under the episode tab to save shows for later.
Once you’ve played with the tabs in the home, audio, and video window a bit (not forgetting that there are Menu options in each window), DoggCatcher will seem straight forward. Hopefully, this post will save you some of the time I wasted poking around and experimenting.
In typical Android app fashion, the functionality shines but the interface is no where near as elegant or easy to navigate as on the iPhone. (But did I mention freedom from iTunes – or DoubleTwist, or iTuner, or MediaMonkey, etc.?)
In my experience, DoggCatcher never failed to remember where I left off listening or viewing. This app makes me just as happy as a dog with a new bone.