Monday, 20 July 2009

Testing some audio-blogging tools for journalists

Mobile podcasting can be a real boon for newspaper journalists on a breaking story - it's a quick, easy way to get a story out. For the listener, it feels fast, real, and engaging - and it's also a simple way of filing copy back to the office.
I guess we're all too attached to our lovely, weighty prose but there are always more apps coming along to to make podcasting easier on-the-go so it's worth giving it a try.

The latest one arrived yesterday courtesy of a tweet from The Pauls (Kinlan and Rawlings, creators of FriendDeck, among other things) who asked for testers for Friendboo - a new FriendFeed podcasting tool. In their own words:
FriendBoo is a super simple audio blogging application built for the users of Friendfeed. All you need is a Friendfeed account and a regular phone.
It's in very early beta so a few gremlins were unavoidable but it's looking promising. I reckon regional newspapers with FriendFeed sites could potentially use this as an easy 'audio-comment under stories' option for readers.
I like it because it's a unique, dynamic addition to a site that is, for many users, a simply a nexus point for information from other sites. Probably more importantly for the developers Robert Scoble is also a new fan.
So, after a couple of tests I thought I'd see how it compared with other sites I've used.


PROS: Simple dial-in; available for UK and USA users; established commenting facility; cross-posting; fast, embeddable; sharing options, decent sound quality.
CONS: Early beta means inevitable hiccups; not the prettiest embed.
Friendfeed account required.

Undoubtedly the most popular site (for now - it's amazing how faddy the web is) - is Audioboo which I tried out for the first time using an iPod touch with external mic (cost me £19.99 from Apple and works brilliantly with the Skype app). The embedded player looks lovely, and the sound quality is excellent but it's really restricting its audience to App-olytes right now. I've synched my Nokia to the Audioboo account but I've never managed to get it to work properly.
*UPDATE: Sarah Hartley's instructions on how to 'boo from a Nokia are here

Listen!

PROS: Ecellent sound quality; very simple; cross-posting options; photo-adding; rating and comment facilities, fast, free, attractive embed.
CONS: Unavailable for non-iPhone users (does work with iPod Touch with external mic); doesn't feel as much of a social media option as the others.
Audioboo account required.

For non-Apple users, Ipadio is a good option. Discovered this back in May and although I've not had cause to use it since I have kept it at the back of my mind as an exciting new site. The sound quality is good and the embed is very nice, although I don't like the 'second phonecast' text. What's the point of it?



PROS: Simple to use, low-cost, good sound quality, embed and subscribe options, fast-loading site, short PIN, fast upload, cross-posting; free service ('right now' according to the blurb).
CONS: Dont like the 'Another fine phonephlog' cross-post text;
Ipadio account required

And, for nostalgia sake, I returned to Utterli, a site I loved right up until the moment they stopped taking calls from the UK because of costs. Using it with my laptop I recorded and uploaded an Utter in seconds (I think the limit is a 10 minute podcast) but mobile-podcasting isn't an option so that makes it pretty limited.




Mobile post sent by Alison using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

You upload with text, video or photos if you wish, and others respond via audio or text. It's a nice idea, and I wish the phone option still worked.

PROS: Free (from laptop); easily embedded, cross-posting, photo and video uploads supported, good social media opportunities, community-building.
CONS: Not available on mobile in UK; not always great sound quality.
Utterli account required

So, which would I use? Right now I'd say Ipadio is the most functional although - like Audioboo - it's more about broadcasting than conversation. But I think Friendboo could be very good once it's ready to launch and the threaded conversation opportunities are far greater. Look forward to seeing how it develops.
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