06 Feb 2010, 16:10

Podcast-listening car-driving heaven, with Android


#“Podcast-listening car-driving heaven, with Android”

I drove yesterday from Bandon->Lurgan->Bandon. Left at 8am, back at 10pm. The entire time I was entertained by many of my regular podcast chums:

  • BBC Radio 4 - Material World
  • BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time
  • BBC Radio 4 - Great Lives
  • BBC Radio 4 - Start The Week
  • BBC Radio 5 Live - Kermode and Mayo Movie Reviews @wittertainment
  • Irish Times Business Podcast
  • TWiT - This Week in Tech
  • TWiG - This Week in Google

And my first ever BBC Radio 4 Gardener’s Question Time. Shockingly entertaining. Or I’m getting really old.

But the tech side of it is interesting too. I run a HTC G1 Android phone with the @cyanogen community firmware. This makes it fast and far more powerful/useful than the official software.

I use the BeyondPod podcasting app (you can buy off-Market so it works in Ireland too) to grab the podcasts. Its killer feature is the scheduler. Every night it grabs the latest episodes of all my subscribed podcasts over Wifi or 3G. This is critical for the BBC podcasts as they only list the most recent show and only for a week. So if you use an iPhone and forget to sync, you miss episodes. Not me :-)

In 2008 I replaced the dying RDS 6000 car stereo with one from Lidl. Initially I listened to podcasts using USB thumbdrives or SDcards. Then I switched to using the Aux-in connected to my N95-8GB phone, then the same to my G1. The flaw with the latter ones is that if you charge the phones via the cigarette lighter and listen to audio at the same time, you get horrendous electrical noise on the audio.

My latest iteration is the best of the lot. The Lidl car stereo has A2DP stereo bluetooth. I always thought it was just for hands-free calling. But recently I accidentally paired the G1 to it when I was trying to pair a headset. Suddenly the playing podcast switched from the wired connection to bluetooth! I was amazed and, even better, I could happily charge with none of the car electrical noise going over the bluetooth (obviously).

Only downside? The bluetooth stack in the G1 is terribly buggy. if you pair both the phone-features and the media-features, then your audio will cut out every 10 seconds as the phone bit interferes with the media bit. So don’t pair the phone bit, just media. Not sure if this is specific to the G1 or it’s on bluetooth on Android in general.

This really is a fantastic podcast listening setup. Any time I need to drive anywhere, I just grab the G1 which I know is fully up to date, get into the car, start playing the podcast I want and it comes out over the car speakers.

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