App Review: Stitcher Radio - Streaming Podcasts Over 3G and Wifi

Less than a year ago, I discovered the TuneIn Radio for Android and I raved about the ability to listen to local radio stations regardless of location. Although I still appreciate the functionality of TuneIn, this year's discovery app for listening involves podcasts, an audio genre that I have grown to enjoy on weekday commutes, long runs, and times when I'd rather listen to spoken text than reading it. After listening to an ad for Stitcher Radio via one of these podcasts, I took the bait and downloaded the free app, and boy was I glad I did.


Stitcher has been around for a few years on both Android and iPhone, so the name of the app definitely sounded familiar. I associated it as a competitor to TuneIn as it featured radio stations, but I enjoyed the interface of TuneIn better. It was the inclusion of streaming podcasts that really intrigued me, and after playing around with the app for a week now, it's grown to be a mainstay and definite home screen application.

Let's take a step back though as well as a quick look at how I currently access podcasts.  I have an iPod Nano that I use for commuting and jogging. In order to get podcasts on this device, I have to download the current episodes onto my computer, physically connect the iPod to the computer, and wait for the sync to take place. If I change the order of this process, I may be left with older episodes on the iPod, and if I haven't been listening for awhile, I may no longer be downloading the current episodes onto my computer.

With a streaming application such as Stitcher, I get immediate access to a wide selection of podcasts, along with their most recent episodes. The selection is pretty good, as I was able to quickly find The B.S. Report, Freakonomics, and CarTalk, to name a few. Within seconds, I was listening to Bill Simmons, and I could scrub forward and backward through the episode with ease. Stitcher also runs smoothly in the background, so I can access all of my phone's controls and applications without interruption.

The ability to add podcasts to your favorites keeps me one click away from listening to a new episode. If I'm not enjoying a particular episode, I can choose a different one, or I can select another favorite. A written summary is also included with each episode, and this makes it easy to determine the date and subject of the particular podcast. Another nice touch is that on your favorites screen, you see not only the names of your bookmarked podcasts, but also the date of the most recent episode.

Of course, the obvious downfall to a streaming application is that if you lose your cellular signal, you will be listening to the sound of silence. There's currently no ability to download the podcast or save for offline listening. I also experienced a few force closes and sudden exits when using the application during the past week. Another suggestion would be to make the search function more visible, as I can imagine users missing the much needed feature (Tip: hit the menu button and you will be rewarded).

It's rare that I find a free application that I now use on a frequent basis. Stitcher has managed to achieve this feat, and if you have a need for streaming podcasts, I'd strongly recommend you check it out for yourself.

Stitcher is available for free in the Android Market and the Apple iTunes App Store.

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Comments

Imran said…
You haven't used TuneIn a lonnnnng time have you. TuneIn has podcasts too. BAM! there goes your review.
David Chan said…
BAM Indeed. Treated. Roasted. Shot down. Whatever you want to call it, Imran just did it to me. TuneIn Radio does indeed have podcasts, and after just a few minutes of exploring, I am already itching to ditch Stitcher.

This will go down as a teachable moment. I fell for the advertisements for Stitcher (and propagated them further by providing this review). Yet, the same features were already under my nose in TuneIn. Thank you Imran, and readers take note - check out TuneIn Radio.
mj662 said…
i love streaming radio, radio stations i could not get clearly come in clear over the internet and i can listen to the BBC and other world news stations!
Beautiful Clock Radio for the iphone and ipad is the best streaming radio app i have used and it has an alarm and clock as well!

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