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Three UK’s Mobilcast is a piece of GENIUS

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Mobilcast is Three UK’s podcast-to-your-mobile service and is part of their X-Series offering. I’m extremely impressed. Mega impressed. You’ll note that this doesn’t happen often.

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Generally speaking, I’m left dumbstruck at some silly strategy or the like (Vodafone’s me-too on broadband, Orange’s unlimited data, but only at 2am on a third Tuesday of each month, and so on) so it’s a genuine pleasure to check out a feature that is every bit as good as you thought it might be.

That’s the Mobilcast icon there top centre of the X-Series screen. If you’ve added X-Series to your N73, you just need to download the software and get going. Find it via it’s icon in your menu tree to run it.

Mobilcast — provided, I gather, by the chaps at Melodeo, enables you to browse, subscribe, download and play podcasts.

Tip top absolutely fuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh k i n g excellent (an authentic description, I think).

Mobilcast on Three is an example of a mobile operator working at it’s best. You’ve bought X-Series. You’ve got more or less unlimited data. You’re basically not having to worry about downloads. So now you want to actually try some entertainment out? You want to actually flex the muscles of the N73 and you’re open internet pipe and start consuming some mobile media!

Good: If, like me, you’re a big fan of podcasts, I’m pretty sure you’ll love, if not deeply respect Mobilcast. I regularly get a ton of BBC podcasts. I rarely listen to the radio in real time. I’ve too much to do! So, for example, I thoroughly enjoy Mark Kermode’s film reviews every week with Simon Radio on Radio 5 Live.

When I’m heading off to the cinema, I usually stick on the iPod in the car and listen to Mark telling me just how bad the film I’ve opted to go and see is. 😉

I did a rather ambitious test of Mobilcast. I didn’t think it would perform as expected. More on this below.

Now, how’s it work?

First off, click the icon to open Mobilcast. The first screen you get is this one:

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Yes, I do want to refresh. This refreshes the list of podcasts — pretty comprehensive — managed (again, I think) by Melodeo.

There’s a rather intuitive exploring interface. You arrive at ‘home’ and then use the cursor keys to flick down the various content menus (‘entertainment’, ‘business’ and so on).

I clicked in and found Scott Mills Daily — another good BBC podcast:

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As you can see above, you’re given a list of recent available podcasts. You can request more — and you can add it to your favourites too.

Like the sound of the Pulling Tips podcast? Simple. Press the central ‘enter’ key and you’re presented with this screen:

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There are the details. 1.2 meg download. You can ‘Listen Now’ — which streams the audio to you right away, or you can ‘Save For Later’ which downloads the audio file and saves it on your device.

So, let’s click on Listen Now;

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The Mobilcast application pops up — that’s it above. It’s perhaps not the sexiest looking thing in the context of some of the fancy X-Series device graphics, but it works fine. You can easily control the volume, skip, repeat, pause and so on.

There’s a ton of different podcasts in the menu system for you to listen to. You’re guaranteed, I’m sure, to find something that interests you. There’s quite an array of BBC podcasts featured:

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However, the list is perhaps not as comprehensive as some uber geeks would like. I couldn’t find the Prime Minister’s Questions podcast by the Guardian, for example. (I did a search on Mobilcast for it)

That said, it’s a terrific example of consumer-friendly podcasts that, I reckon, if I put in front of your standard X-Series user, would be very well received. There’s of course a heck of lot of scope to increase the directory as required.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

8 replies on “Three UK’s Mobilcast is a piece of GENIUS”

Have Three provided a way to suggest new podcasts to them (or Melodeo or whoever), or use this service to connect to podcasts of your own choice?

I guess it’s kind of a moot point since Nokia provide a series 60 podcasting application, and X Series will cover data usage through most apps (from what I hear).

But it would be nice.

Mobilcast fantastic? I have to politely disagree…

Podcasts on you mobile via 3G… That’s cool but the Mobilcast app is ugly, doesn’t follow the Series60 interface style and more importantly forces you to download the podcast when you want it. Credit where credit is due, the podcast directory is OK, but nowhere near as good as Odeo or iTunes on a desktop.

I vastly prefer the Nokia podcasting app, becasue one you’ve subscribed it automatically checks for new podcasts and downloads them for you in the background to the destination of your choice…

I was very impressed by mobilcast when I first tried it out a few weeks ago.

I find it an excellent application with only one caveat: I wonder why they did not put some more effort in designing a more appealing user interface. There are plenty of bad applications with a great UI. In this case we have a great application with a bad User Interface (At least for what I like)

At the end of the day it’s running on an high end phone with lot of graphics capabilities.

Anyway, it works great and that is what really matters.

On your screen in the first or second screen shot it had the Windows symbol and the word messenger. Do you have Windows Messenger? Is there a way that I could possibly run it here in the US? If so please let me know. The program I was using for MSN IM just expired and I’m in the market again. Thanks.

You can submit your favorite UK podcasts to our Melodeo Mobilcast website at http://www.melodeo.com. Find the gold “Submit Podcast” button below the directory links on the right hand side of the front page.

We are always working to improve mobilcast and your above comments are right on target with what we are working on to improve. We will also soon have what we are calling HiFi audio quality and video podcast support in mobilcast. You can go to Melodeo.com and create a playlist of your “My Favorite” podcasts and have them sync’ed to your mobile phone. Just visit this page and follow the instructions – http://www.melodeo.com/mobile_center

My job here at Melodeo Mobilcast is to manage the content and to do online marketing activities. I am also a early podcaster myself as host of WebTalk Radio for 8 years.

I am very interested in building a much better selection of UK podcasts, please spread the word and have more UK based podcasters submit their podcasts to us and it will be easier to find your favorite podcasts via our search on the phone. We presently have about 7,500 podcasts in our database and want much more.

I think your comments about the UI and subscription downloading in the Nokia Podcasting application are interesting and we will talk about it more here.

Thanks for all of your comments about mobilcast and keep it coming. Oh, I will get the Prime Minister’s Questions podcast into the inventory.

Rob Greenlee
http://www.melodeo.com

Mobile Podcast Listening Blog
http://mobilcasting.blogspot.com

Well hello everyone, Loopy is back.

I agree with Ben that the GUI does require a certain reworking. I wonder why designers/developers let themselves down when the important working element [the interface] is not as polished as the rest of the application.

Having said that I would like to see a short video [aka Camtasia style] of you doing these reviews of the software applications Ewan. Would’nt that be cool – Ewan’s reviews in video format so we can see you move through the app and make your choice comments. Surely somebody in your vast network of friendly developer techie types will have something that will allow you to do that.

Well now it’s the weekend, must go off and make plans to disrupt the mobile Telco industry………………….

Speak soon

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