Podcasts for Windows Phone 8.1

In my last article on Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview, I mentioned that Windows Phone is experiencing its Android Ice-cream Sandwich moment.

Before Google released ICS for Android, Android as an OS wasn't as appealing and did not get Apple iOS users jealous. After ICS, Android gained steam and is very popular even among some that are former Apple’s iOS staunch fans.

Windows Phone is gaining momentum with regards to user adoption. Many juicy features that were missing are going to debut on the WP 8.1. Some are still missing though. File Management and the ability to attach files while composing email. Let's take a look at one feature bump that Windows Phone 8.1 brought: Podcasts powered by the Bing team at Microsoft.

If you’re a hardcore podcast fan, you’ll want to hunt for a third party podcast app for Windows Phone with more robust features. The Podcasts app on WP 8.1 is pretty basic -lacking in some features like importing of old podcasts and limit in the number of Podcasts that can be found in the directory that uses Bing to search. The Podcasts app, available only with devices running Windows Phone 8.1, is having some pretty basic features.

How to get Podcasts for Windows Phone 8.1: The Podcasts app comes to the phone automatically as soon as you update your phone to WP 8.1 - Developer Preview. (You may have to wait until June 25, 2014 to receive the WP 8.1 on your device that’s currently running WP 8).

Podcasts App Features

Subscribe to your favourite podcast channels - Get Podcasts: It has a powerful search feature that is powered by Bing Search.

All you need to do is use a keyword, podcast title or the name of the author of the podcast show to search for the podcast and Bing returns the item to you and you’re subscribed.

Favourite podcast channels

Podcasts App doesn’t just allow you to subscribe to audio podcasts, but you can also subscribe to video podcast feeds. I was able to subscribe to TED Talk Videos myself.

One can toggle the settings in such a way that episodes of subscribed podcasts are downloaded only via WiFi and unlimited mobile data. Since there's a setting for capping data in Windows Phone 8.1, you'll have to set this up to prevent your capped mobile internet data from being depleted.

There's a sign to each episodes that lets you know if the episode has been downloaded or if it has not been. When not downloaded and you hit play, you'll be streaming the episode using either your mobile Internet data or your WiFi.

Podcasts Settings

Only download over WiFi and unlimited data plan. When this feature is activated, you can control how Podcasts use internet data. Since audio and video are data intensive offering, this is a good feature. I turned WiFi off while this feature was on and I could not download any podcast episode; what I saw was a notice that says: waiting for WiFi.

If you want to be able to download using your mobile data, you’ll have to set Data Limit to Unlimited in Data Sense. As soon as I set my data limit to unlimited, I was able to download using mobile data.

Allow Streaming: If you’ll only want to download your podcasts, you’ll want to disable this feature and set it to off.

Podcasts Settings

Default Series Settings: This setting is just under the Allow Streaming feature setting, it offers the option of Play Oldest First, Play Newest First and the amount of Podcasts you want to keep on your device per every podcast series you’re subscribed to.

Default Series Settings

This feature is nifty especially if you do not want to store so much podcasts on your phone and you want older episodes to be deleted to make room for new episodes.

You can’t time when you want the episodes to be downloaded. So, new episodes are downloaded as soon as they're available. But if you choose three or more episodes to be kept, at every point in time, the amount you choose in your series settings is kept while older episodes are deleted.

With Pocket Cast, you can create an account and sync your podcast activities across different devices--IOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android.

Many lovers of Podcasts that I know listen while commuting, driving, travelling or doing household chores. If you drive yourself and like to consume interesting contents, you might want to browse the podcast library and search for the ones you’ll love. I am going to share in the future how you can organise your podcast library on different operating systems--Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

The UI of the Podcasts on Windows Phone 8.1 is clean and simple. I was not able to sign in to an account. This means there’s no way for my preference to be remembered when I attempt to use Podcasts on a new Windows Phone device. I am of the opinion that in the next release of the app, we will start to see feature updates as this first version appears to be too basic.

Are you a podcast lover too or is this your first time?

Let me know in the comments.

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