Stitcher on Android Auto: Not my first choice for an in-car podcatcher

Podcasts have seen a pretty major resurgence over the past few years — with the Android Central Podcast leading the way, no doubt — and so it's not a huge surprise that podcatchers are among the first apps to appear on Android Auto. We've already taken a look at a couple — Pocket Casts and TuneIn Radio (the latter is mostly an Internet radio app but also does podcasts). And now it's time to take a look at another favorite — Stitcher.

Stitcher is a podcatcher through and through. It's got a good web interface (at, and the Android application itself is full-featured and easy to use. And as we've explained before, the standard Android app is actually what you're using with Android Auto.

Like all apps of this sort, you've got a basic player interface with large touch points for playing and pausing. There's a 30-second rewind button, an overflow button to take you to thumbs down/up, etc. Pretty standard stuff at this point.

More: See "Getting Started with Android Auto

But Stitcher (which isn't an app I use regularly, and also probably won't be, for reasons we'll explain now) does something that I haven't noticed from other podcatchers. It lowers the bitrate of the recording. That's particularly noticeable to me now because we just made a dedicated effort to significantly improve the audio quality of our podcast. So while Stitcher is a step above the audio quality we previously had (wherein I was just ripping the audio off the YouTube recording of the Google Hangout), it's also a bit below what you'll hear in other apps that use the direct recording that we upload.

In other words, Stitcher simply doesn't sound as good. And that's a shame since the app is pretty good.

Stitcher on Android Auto

The dreaded "No more items can be displayed" ...

But it's got another issue as well. Wherein other apps have flirted with the touch limits that bring about that dreaded "No more items can be displayed" message, Stitcher runs head-first into that brick wall because of the sheer number of categories it offers. If you're using some of the more direct categories — Front Page, Listen Later, or your own "Favorites Playlist" — you'll probably be OK. But while categories at the bottom of the scrollable list are accessible, the content within them are not. That's due to the limitation on the number of times you're allowed to tap the display. It's a safety thing, and one we don't necessarily disagree with, but Google and the app developers need to come to a better understanding of that limitation, because it's simply a bad user experience, and one that we're seeing in too many apps.

Phil Nickinson