A few days ago a company called VoiceIndigo made an announcement that:
Palm, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of smartphones, has selected VoiceIndigo as the podcasting partner for its mobile portal (http://mobile.palm.com). This alliance will enable mobile users of Palm 700p and Treo 700w smartphones to discover, listen, and share podcasts.
...Which is all very well and good for marketing-speak. But what does it mean for us? It means that there's now a very easy way to access podcasts directly on the Treo (not just the 700 series either). If VoiceIndigo is true to their word, it's going to get even easier in the near future. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, how does this service work now?
Designed for Mobile Browsers
When accessing http://mobile.palm.com from your Treo, you'll see a new link for "podcasts." Interestingly, it only appears for me when browsing from the default browser my Treo - it also may not appear for you Treo650 users. Browsing directly to http://mobile.palm.com/us/700w.epl or http://mobile.palm.com/us/700p.epl should do the trick. Anyway, clicking on that link takes you to VoiceIndigo's mobile site, where you can browse available podcasts and download them directly.
Really, though, the above paragraph is step 2 - it can work, but it isn't what makes VoiceIndigo so cool. Step 1 is to go directly to http://www.voiceindigo.com from your desktop and create an account. Then you can make "channels" of podcasts that you're interested in accessing from your mobile phone. For each channel, you can customize which podcasts it contains, set an audio quality, and set whether or not you'd like to synchronize it to your mobile phone (more on that below).
Now that you've set up an account from your desktop, you can sign in from your Treo and get a page of the podcasts you'd like to access on the go.
Clicking on any of these channels takes you to a very light page with a description of the podcast and a link to download it. You should notice right away that the download size is significantly smaller than the original podcast. I set my preference for the TreoCentral TreoCast to "Fair" and VoiceIndigo shrunk our 30mb podcast down to 3.7mb. Admittedly, the sound quality was indeed "fair" at best - I recommend using at least "good" for your podcasts.
The other nice feature on this page is that, in addition to downloading the full podcast, VoiceIndigo also provides smaller downloads of the podcasts in automatically created "chapters" of about 1mb apiece. So you could theoretically download the first right away, then as you're listening to it go ahead and download the rest.
So by using Palm's mobile portal you can access your favorite podcasts fairly quickly. The whole point of podcasting, however, as we said in our first TreoCast, is to make it automatic. VoiceIndigo provides a solution for that too: a "mobilize" button. Clicking that button for any podcast from your desktop brings you to a page that allows you to subscribe to that podcast directly on your phone. When the podcast is updated, you will receive an SMS with a download link for that episode. Slick!
According to their site, VoiceIndigo is currently working on actual clients for PalmOS, Windows Mobile, Java Brew, and some Java MIDP 2.0 phones. There's already a working Symbian client. They're also apparently working on some sort of "friends" feature so you can share your favorite podcasts with your buddies as well as some sort of iTunes integration. I hate to put not-yet-existent features in a review, but on the other hand these folks do know the meaning of life, so I'm optimistic.
At any rate, here's the link to mobilize the TreoCentral TreoCast directly to your Treo:
(Meanwhile I'll update this article next week with with an interview with VoiceIndigo.)