Audio Blogging in the UK - Testing IPadio, Audioboo and Gabcast

Posted by Joe Walton on 05/08/2010

Last month, Wordpress rolled out audio posting via a phone line. It's an interesting service that introduces audio blogging to a wide user base.

Audio blogging has been around for a while. It has been threatening to become mainstream for a couple of years now with celebs like Stephen Fry posting audio content. 

It sounds close to podcasting but differs through a few key points:

  • It usually involves a single person.
  • Content is unedited and short.
  • They are made and uploaded quickly.
  • Podcasts tend to be longer and more polished with a closer resemblance to radio shows. 

As with everything in social media classification is difficult. There are no right or wrong ways to podcast or audio blog. Experimentation and breaking conventions are part of the enjoyment.

Unfortunately, the Wordpress audio posting is not available in UK. However, there are alternatives.

Testing Audioboo, Ipadio and Gabcast

Three free services available in the UK are Audioboo, Ipadio and Gabcast (beta). There may be more but these are the easiest to find and therefore likely to become the market leaders. If I missed a service drop me a comment and I would be happy to give it a try.

Audioboo and Ipadio offer embeddable posts - handy for integrating into existing blogs and websites. Gabcast and Ipadio both allow you to phone in your blogs, a key part of the new service from Wordpress.

Using my HTC Desire Andoid phone and reading from a personal favourite, the "Little Book of Chaos" by Craig Brown (available from Amazon. think of it as the little book of calm for people who like to fidget), I tried each of the services. The results can be heard below. 

This was part of my personal research and was to primarily test the audio quality. The test involved holding the phone in front of me then dialling in or recording on my phone and uploading the file through the a phone app. All services allow you to upload a recorded MP3 direct from a website but its the mobile aspects of the service I find most interesting.

The social elements of each service are also important but that is for a future post and experimentation.

In all cases it was easy to do and took only a few moments but I don't think this is the start of a career in radio. 

Audioboo

  • The Android app is quick.
  • It lists recent Boos (Audioboo's term for audio posts)
  • One minor fault is doesn't give you the option of taking a picture after recording your boo, you have to exit, take a snap and then go back in to restart the upload the process. It does however remember the details avoiding a frustrating moment.
  • A major problem is that it takes an age over a regular phone data connection although Wi-Fi is quick
  • It automatically posts to twitter and facebook. For me this feature should not be automatic, sometimes you want the choice of posting content on other social platforms.
  • It Geocodes the recording and appears on map.
  • As a workaround to not having a phone number, a Skype account with and answering service can act as a serviceable replacement but isn't instantaneous.

Ipadio via a phone mobile phone line

  • Easy to use via the free two phone lines. Simply enter a code to start recording. The London performed better for me than the 0845 number which broke up during recording.
  • Ipadio App allows you to phone in directly or record and upload an audio file (below).
  • While you can't edit details (See below) about the post when recording over the phone line this can be done via the website later.
  • Autopost to twitter is available.
  • Free, reasonably accurate transcription.

Ipadio via an app

  • App is really easy to use and shows a list of current phlogs (Ipadio' term for audio posts)
  • Again, uploading via the mobile internet isn't fast.Over Wi-fi it takes only a few seconds
  • You can edit the title, tags or description before uploading.
  • Put you can't add a photograph via the app (as far as I am aware).
  • It auto posts to twitter if connected.
  • Free, reasonably accurate transcription. 
  • Geocoding is available.

Gabcast (beta)

To listen click here.

NB- I tried the new version of Gabcast currently in beta, the alpha version has fuller features but charges after a short while.

  • Embeddable players are not available in beta yet. They are available in the original gabcast but this is paid for service (after five minutes of credit) so wasn't tested.
  • London phone line easy to use. The prompt is American and ask for the pound sign to start recording (It is # key if you are wondering).
  • You can change details and information on the website later on.
  • Recording is quick and easy via a unique channel number.

But this isn't just about quality, each services varies slightly in its offer. They are tweaking their services all the time. It is probably best to investigate yourself as the test above and details below will change. I find it hard to decide between them, Audioboo has the buzz but Ipadio has the flexibility. Gabcast has a stronger following in the USA .

Testing Ipadio, Audioboo and Gabcast in the UK
Feature Audioboo Ipadio Gabcast (beta)
Upload Mechanisms

Smartphone App

Mp3 via PC

 

Smartphone App

Phone

Mp3 via PC

Phone

VOIP

Mp3 via PC

Quick Integration with

RSS

Itunes

Twitter

Posterous

FriendFeed

Facebook

Tumblr

Wordress (through plug in)

RSS

Itunes

Twitter

RSS

Blogger 

TypePad

WordPress

 

Embeddable Recordings Yes Yes No
Max call time 5 minutes As long as you want 20 minutes
Additional Features

Community streams (details TBC)

Can register via Twitter

Voice to Text 

Live Broadcasting

Concurrent Callers

Advertised Premium Options

Longer recording times

Better Quality

Multiple Users

Website integration

More control

 

A number of secure business orientated services (from dedicated lines to field agent reports) None found  as yet on the beta version

 

Fad or fantastic tool

Until the Wordpress service arrives in the UK there are plenty of options of people wanting to experiment with audio blogging. 

Like all social media services they can be useful but it depends on your intended audiences and what you are trying to achieve. The golden rules still applies; choosing the right tools is important but not as much as the content and integration into an existing strategy.

They offer additional creative avenues for PR activities when audio works better than text, pictures or video. Poetry, music, interviews, customer feedback could all work well. The potential is only just being explored. 


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About the Author

Joe Walton is a consultant at Real PR and Secretary of the CIPR Scotland. His main interests sit between communications, psychology and technology.

You can follow him on multiple social networks including twitter and Google+.