Odeo, the new online podcasting service co-founded by Blogger creator Evan Williams, has opened its doors to the public. While “still very much in beta,” the site enables users to easily find and subscribe to the popular web-based audio programs and then sync them to their computer and iPod.
The podcasts can be downloaded to your hard drive with a free Windows or Mac OS X program called Odeo Syncr, which lets you listen to the shows in any audio player application (including iTunes) or on any portable device. Odeo also smartly provides the option to sync your podcasts to iTunes via a special RSS feed. Once in iTunes, you can then move the shows onto an iPod.
Odeo will eventually be more than just a place to find and listen to podcasts. The start-up plans to shortly introduce features that will enable anyone with a web browser and microphone to create their own podcasts online. The site will offer the Odeo Studio to record and publish audio, and Phone Posting, which will let you leave a voicemail to record a podcast. Odeo will also provide feed creation and hosting services.
The initial lack of the podcast creation features could be seen as a result of last month’s release of iTunes 4.9. It would appear that Odeo wanted to get its site open as soon as possible after the somewhat surprising release of the new version of iTunes and its podcasting support—even if it meant not having all of its promised features completely ready for launch.
iLounge spoke with Odeo’s Williams shortly after the release of iTunes 4.9. His reaction echoed that of other prominent members of the podcast world. “At the highest level, I think this is good for podcasting,” Williams said. “I think Apple will introduce a lot more people to podcasting a lot faster than would have happened otherwise.”
Williams said there are some similarities between his service and iTunes. “There is some overlap with Odeo as it stands today, but there’s so much to do in this space that I’m not concerned at all that there won’t be enough places for us to add value,” Williams told iLounge. “If it means we don’t need a client app for the millions of folks who use iTunes, then that might be a better user experience and a lower barrier to getting started,” Williams said. “It will also mean that many more people will want to create podcasts, which we will help with as well.”