Symbian has had rather limited options when it comes to dealing with podcasts. Since Nokia's Podcasting client disappeared, the only option has been Podcatcher - or side loading MP3s via a desktop media manager. A new podcast client, Podmaster, is now available - but only for Nokia Belle handsets. Is this the master of all podcast clients, or just a pretender to the throne?
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Podmaster starts up with an empty subscription list and a three button toolbar. Tapping the "+" icon takes you to the "Popular Podcasts" list, where you are greeted by a gallery of album art for sixteen recommended series. It's highly likely that you will want podcasts not listed there. In which case you have two options: either tap the search icon or use the menu button and manually enter a URL.
The popular podcasts list and adding a feed manually
The podcast search function works very well, and even manages to find quite obscure results. However, the number of results seems artificially limited. For example, search for "BBC" and Podmaster returns twenty results, despite the BBC having far more titles than that.
Search result examples (not happy with it still having matches from my OLD server, though - Ed)
Once you return to the main screen, you will find a list of your subscriptions. Managing single subscriptions is somewhat inconsistent; e.g. long pressing from the main list only yields a single option - "Remove feed". (In the context of podcasts, "feed" is synonymous with "subscription".) However, if you want to refresh just one feed, you need to open it and use the refresh button on its toolbar. It works, but it's not exactly intuitive.
Managing feeds and episodes
Viewing a single feed shows a list of all available episodes. Tapping an episode takes you to its text summary (if available), but long pressing gives an option to stream the episode. If you want to download for listening offline, just tap the "Get" button shown to the right of each. Within the feed view, the menu button allows you to mark all episodes as played, delete all downloads, and to unsubscribe.
Podcast episode options
It isn't possible to play episodes sequentially, because Podmaster utilises the built-in audio player (as is launched from File Manager for audio files) - which can only be launched with one file at a time, not a playlist. Therefore, when an episode finishes, you have to manually select the next one. The same limitation applies to Podcatcher. This can be frustrating, but it is handy if you like to listen to a podcast as you go to sleep. However, thanks to the ID3 genre tag of each podcast download, your episodes are also listed in the Podcast menu of the built-in Music application, should you wish to control playback from there.
Podcast playback in action and podcasts listed in the Music application's podcast directory
Inevitably, one has to compare Podmaster to Podcatcher. While Podmaster has a simpler user interface, the latter benefits from being able to automatically check feeds at regular intervals. Podmaster will automaticaly check feeds at start-up, but there are no options to schedule further checks.
Also missing from Podmaster is the ability to import and export feeds. This makes moving from one phone to another, or from Podcatcher to Podmaster, trickier than it need be. However, this omission is somewhat negated by the comprehensive search feature, which is far better than Podcatcher's.
Podmaster is available for £1.00 on the Nokia Store, whereas Podcatcher costs £1.50. If you're a power user, then you will get more out of Podcatcher. However, if you just want something with a simple interface that can help you discover new content then I'd recommend Podmaster.
David Gilson, 6th January 2011
Reviewed by David Gilson at