A Simple DIY Podcast App

melissa mcewen
6 min readMar 6, 2019

The podcast app for nerds who love RSS

Last weekend, I wanted to generate a playlist of the latest episodes of all my favorite podcasts, so I could listen to them while cleaning. But I couldn’t find an easy way to do that. I’ve been using iTunes for podcasts for probably 8 years now. It’s slow and crashes a lot. But the final straw was realizing their smart playlist feature seemed incapable of just making that very simple playlist.

I thought about Spotify, but it’s also pretty slow on many of my devices, and doesn’t have some of the more niche podcasts. I tried a few others but couldn’t find one I really liked.

And I know people, like my boyfriend, who just want to download mp3s and listen to them on old-fashioned mp3 players.

So I figured I’d make my own bare bones podcast app. How long could it take? Spoiler: much longer than I expected. But I’m happy with how it came out, and what it does. Very simply, Just Podcasts visits every podcast feed you specify, and arranges the episodes in chronological order. I also added an audio function, so you can play the mp3s in the browser.

I’ve been an RSS fan since I started using the internet (RIP Google Reader) and one thing that excited me about building this was that Podcasting is a place where RSS is very much still alive. Every podcast I looked at had an RSS feed!

Just Podcasts

Just Podcasts is a bare bones podcast app that you can host yourself (and that’s not as hard as it sounds!). It’s ideal for people who want fast, simple access to their favorite podcasts.

App in this case means “website.” You can host it yourself on Glitch, and get a web address like mycool-podcasts.glitch.me. But it’s not just a website. It meets the standards of a “Progressive Web App,” so when you add it to your home screen on most phones (especially Androids) it should look and act more like an app. That means some visual tweaks like a custom url bar and icons for the home screen. Under the hood it also means some caching magic that makes it pretty fast as well.

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