In November I started using a new podcatcher on my Android phone, the Stitcher app. As I noted then, it was a mixed bag, with some nice affordances, some switching costs, and several annoyances. I got used to the interface, took the time to manually add each and every podcast I liked (no RSS import), then settled in.
Most of the time Stitcher worked. I mean that literally, because sometimes it would hang up instead of playing some podcasts, or just crash. Some podcasts weren’t on Stitcher (again, no RSS), so I just listened to them through other means.
Otherwise it was decent, playing podcasts clearly. When I learned about new podcasts I searched for them in the app, adding them manually if they were there.
Starting on Thursday the app failed to do anything at all, beyond displaying the cheerful and repeatedly disproven error message to left. No explanation could be found on the app or the website.
When I poked around on Twitter, I at last found a long, sad, and saddening list of plaintive official tweets. There wasn’t much in the way of explanation, beyond one mention of failed servers. No hacking, no DDoS, no lighting strike.
Please understand that this meant users couldn’t access not only new podcast content, but couldn’t play podcasts they had already downloaded. Stitcher – podcast listening – was off. It’s akin to someone remotely removing Windows Media Player or iTunes from your desktop.
I turned back to my decade-old mp3 player and laptop. Seriously.
An hour ago today, almost one week after the crash, Stitcher seems to be back. I’m checking my feeds for corruption. So far so good. 48 new podcast episodes are fighting their downloading way across Vermont’s limping networks.
But it’s a chastening experience. Stitcher is a fragile single point of failure, vulnerable to… whatever happened this time. I feel sympathy for them, if they’re a tiny group grappling with a monster database problem.
Still, I need an alternative.
I’m still trying to figure out the offline playback feature.
Google is apparently considering launching their own player (thanks to Pete, again), but it doesn’t seem to be available yet.
mp3 files: how complicated can this be?
I’ll post again as my experiments continue. Dear reader, do you have any suggestions to offer or experiences to share?