All Things Appy: Top 5 Chrome Tools for Podcasts and the Spoken Word

A desktop is a fine spot for browsing the world’s spoken-word media, and the Chrome browser is a fine tool to do it with.

This week’s All Things Appy takes a look at the top must-have, free apps for the Chrome browser environment. We include some for Internet radio, some for podcasts and one for quickly grabbing a podcast feed.

About the Ecosystem: Google’s Chrome apps and extensions for its browser are obtained in the Chrome Web Store. Select a new tab in the browser, then choose the Chrome Web Store link in the lower right corner of the page. Use the on-page search box to find the app you’d like to use.

Within Google’s Chrome Web, apps are generally self-contained whereas extensions can provide pop-up functions or interact with the Web page.

No. 1: Stitcher

Stitcher has 4 1/2 stars out of a possible 5 from 61 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 19,386 users.

This Stitcher Chrome app syncs with the mobile version and consequently provides seamless sources across devices without having to manage downloads.


Stitcher, the service, serves you over 15,000 podcasts and radio shows and is predominantly talk- rather than music-oriented the way some of the other radio resources out there are. Strong features include discovery, where the app guesses what you like.

No. 2: Audials Live Radio & Podcast

Audials Live Radio & Podcast has 4 stars out of a possible 5 from 20 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 2,460 users.

TuneIn is the ultimate Internet radio app for mobile devices, but although a Web page is available, it’s not available in a Chrome browser app or extension. So, you need an alternative, and that alternative should be Audials.

Although it’s still in beta, this app is a fast way to browse through podcasts, global news and talk streams; it also provides a highly simple way to drill down and browse hierarchically as well as search. It just shows what you can do with a bit of simplicity.

No. 3: BBC News Alarm

BBC News Alarm has 4 stars out of a possible 5 from 24 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 6,277 users.

Here’s a method for creating a workday break. This app allows you to set an in-browser alarm; when the set time is reached, it starts the latest BBC News podcast.

It’s a great way to start a lunch hour without monitoring the clock. News audio starts; tools down, feet up.

No. 4: NPR Infinite Player

NPR Infinite Player has 4 stars out of a possible 5 from 638 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 279,895 users.

Here’s a fast way to grab a chunk of National Public Radio. Just launch the app, and the latest hourly newscast plays. Other shows are available with a little drilling. One neat feature is a full story link along with images as you listen, adding a second dimension to the shows.

It’s a must-have for any NPR listener.

No. 5: RSS Subscription Extension by Google

RSS Subscription Extension has 4 1/2 stars out of a possible 5 from 2,452 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 852,685 users.

This extension creates a clickable RSS icon in the browser’s Omnibox that appears when an RSS feed is available. You simply click the icon to preview the feed and then are prompted to subscribe with a favored reader.

Generally it works and is highly useful, but occasionally it’s glitchy — that’s why it’s in a runner’s-up position here.

Omnibox is Google-ese for address bar. This functionality is a feature that can be found in Firefox but has been missing in Chrome.

Want to Suggest an Apps Collection?

Is there a batch of apps you’d like to suggest for review? Remember, they must all be for the same platform, and they must all be geared toward the same general purpose. Please send the names of five or more apps to me, and I’ll consider them for a future All Things Appy column.

Don’t forget to use the Talkback feature below to add your comments.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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