capsule review

Listen

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Listen

    PCWorld Rating

    A decent free podcast manager.

Listen is a Google Labs app designed to help you get on top of, and stay on top of, a steady diet of podcasts. As a beginning podcast subscriber I found the app cleanly designed and easy to use.

The first thing you'll see when you start using Listen is a screen with the search box at the top and four menu choices below: My Listen items, My subscriptions, Popular searches, and Recently played.

To get started, you can either search for podcasts you've heard about by name, or search by subject to find podcasts that you might be interested in. You can also hit "Popular searches" to find out what other people are listening to.

I started by searching for comedian Marc Maron's podcast, which I had heard about from a friend. Listen couldn't find the podcast, even when I spelled Maron's name correctly. I found it easily in iTunes.

I then searched for the PCWorld podcast. Listen found the CNET, Cranky Geeks, and PC Mag (!!!) podcasts, but no sign of PCWorld's. Google Labs says its still working on the app's search capabilities, but this app has been around awhile, and I expected a little more from the world's biggest search company.

To select a podcast from your search results, you simply tap it, and the podcast's details page comes up, where you can see the podcast's logo and a short description of it, as well as buttons to play the podcast now, add it to your queue, or request more episodes. You can also press and hold on the podcast to see the same options presented to you in a pop-up box.

When you subscribe to a podcast, Listen feeds new episodes into your queue as they become available. You manage your subscriptions on Listen's My Subscriptions page, or as a feed in Google Reader.

When I went to play a podcast, the app informed me I was not on a Wi-Fi network, then streamed the app on the 3G network. The app gives you basic play, pause, forward, and reverse playback functionality.

While advanced podcast addicts may require more functionality in a podcast app, as a beginner I found the app to be a great way to learn about cool new podcasts and sensibly queue up the ones I already knew about--if the app's search function could locate them.

Right now, Listen is available only for Android-powered phones, and indexes only English-language podcasts. Listen is free, and available at the Android App Market.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A decent free podcast manager.

    Pros

    • Integrates with Google Reader, has podcast search and discovery.

    Cons

    • Search function doesn't always return relevant results.
    • Indexes only English-language content.
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