Google Listen 1.1 for Android and Google Reader Change/Quirk

Listen from Google Labs for the Android mobile platform is a great and easy Podcatcher for anyone that is an avid podcast listener. You can search for podcasts and subscribe directly from your phone. You can even subscribe to searches! It does allow you to see any and all show notes, album art, and it remembers your position if you are playing a podcast, and come back later to listen more.

Recently Google made some changed to the Google Labs application Listen. While some of the new features were welcomed there are a few quirks that have cropped up.

Originally in previous versions if you wanted to subscribe to a podcast you had to do it through your phone, by searching for a podcast in the application itself, or cut and paste the feed address from a web site into Listen.

Again, all of this had to be done on the phone.

Now as of Listen 1.1, the application creates a folder in your online Google Reader called ‘Listen Subscriptions’ and stores all your feeds in that folder. This makes it much easier to manage you subscriptions because now you can add or remove them from your computer in Google Reader or on your phone through the Listen app. While this is very convenient, this is where I ran into a problem…

The way I use Google Reader is that I view all my items and scroll through reading and marking them as read, and if I have a lot, I may ‘Mark All as Read’. The problem lies in that Listen looks for new Unread items in the ‘Listen Subscriptions’ folder and if I mark everything as read or accidentally read a podcast post well, I won’t get my new podcasts downloaded.

What I needed to do is add another level to my Google Reader so that my Listen Subscriptions would not be included in the ‘All Items’ group I was reading and keep them separate so I wouldn’t mark them as read.

I have been pretty good at keeping my feeds organized. So I have folders for every feed or groups of feeds (categories/tags). Feeds can belong in more than one folder and this is what is going to make this all possible. What we will do is Create a folder called ‘All’ and all my regular feeds will belong in there and the folder that I originally put them in. Then we will set Google Reader to open the ‘All’ folder as the default landing when I open it up.

  1. Go to Settings > Reader Settings > Subscriptions
  2. On the First Feed, click the pull down that says ‘Change Folders’ and Select New Folder.
  3. You will be asked for a name, type in ‘All’, click OK.
  4. Select all feeds by clicking ‘All x Subscriptions’
  5. In the ‘More Actions’ pull down I added them to a new folder called ‘All’. This will be where I go to read all new items.
  6. De-select them all by clicking on ‘None’
  7. In the Filter box, type ‘Listen Sub’ to see all your Listen Subscriptions
  8. Click ‘All x Subscriptions’
  9. In the ‘More Actions’ pull down, Remove the folder ‘All’
  10. Go to Google Reader Settings, and on the Preference Page select ‘All’ as your Start page

Now all your regular feeds will have 2 folders assigned (assuming you had them in folders/tags before), the one you put them in originally and now an ‘All’ folder, and your Listen Subscriptions will have only one folder assigned. This way you can read all your new stuff and mark them read as you do your reading in the ‘All’ folder..and your ‘Listen Subscriptions’ will be left alone.

This also has the added benefit that if you have a regular feed that has a podcast attached, and you would like that to show in your Listen App…just hit ‘t’ to assign a tag, and type ‘Listen Subscriptions’ and click Keep Unread. This will put it in ‘Listen Subscriptions’ and your Listen app will download it.

Hope this helps.