A Better Mobile Experience for Podcast Streaming

Mobile matters for podcasts. To borrow from a recent tweet, “hearing is a mobile sense. You can listen while doing other things. That’s why Player FM is so cool: surfacing cool audio content”. For that reason, it’s important people can keep Player FM in their pocket, whether they’re on the move or even just moving around at home. For that reason, Player FM’s website has a range of user interface updates today, aimed at making the mobile experience smoother and improving overall device compatibility. In this post, I’ll summarise all of the recent updates.

Channel Switcher

The channel switcher is available as a sidebar on the desktop, but comes into its own on mobiles as the primary browsing mechanism, allowing you to rapidly flick through recent shows on any topic. Logged-in users can personalise the menu by starring their favorite channels, whether on mobile or desktop.

Fixed Navigation Bar

There’s now a navigation bar on top with big “finger friendly” buttons to control playback and a running time display.

You can hit the toggle button to slide down extra track info, and the clickable progress bar.

Pause Button and Progress Indicator

When you hit a play button anywhere on the app, it will transform into a pause button for immediate control. Furthermore, an animated progress indicator will show directly on the play button. These are small changes, but they make a big difference to the experience of starting a track, and bring Player FM’s user interface more in line with user expectations. This is available on all form factors.

Browser Compatibility

The app is now be working fine on:

  • All modern desktop/laptop web browsers (including recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari)
  • Mobile Safari on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
  • Chrome on Android and the new Chrome app for all of the above Apple devices
  • Chrome on Google TV
  • BlackBerry Browser
  • Android Browser

For Android, there’s an in-page “mini player” experience for the Android Browser, because the browser is built on a relatively old foundation and needs some special audio handling, and also the fixed navigation bar is not feasible. Android users might even prefer this to Chrome for the time being, as Chrome for Android still has a flaw that unfortunately shuts down audio playback when the screen is turned off or the user switches to another app.