Review: Audioboo for Android Beta

Product: Audioboo for Android (Debug Build 3)
Price: Free
Availability: Soon, from www.audioboo.fm

The long-awaited Android app for popular micro-podcasting service Audioboo is very nearly here - and we take a look at the final debug version to see if it can deliver on its promise.

For those that haven't come across it yet, Audioboo is an audio-based microblogging service - like Twitter for people who can talk faster than they type. Users can upload audio files in a variety of formats, record directly from their browser, or use a free iPhone app to create mini-podcasts of up to five minutes length on the go.

When Audioboo first launched, it came with both iPhone and Android apps - but a storm of complaints about poor performance and frequent crashes saw the Android app quietly removed, and that was the last anyone saw of it for quite some time.

Now, however, it's due to finally re-appear - and we've got our hands on the final debug build to see what delights the app will bring.

Installation on our test device - a Motorola Milestone running Android 2.1 - update1 - was pretty straightforward, with the 700KB app appearing in our menus without any hiccoughs. Quick to launch, the first thing we were greeted with was a list of 'Recent Boos' - and that proved a somewhat absorbing feature.

Like text-based microblogging service Twitter, all Audioboo recordings - known as 'Boos' - are broadcast to the world. When you publish a Boo, it goes live on the site immediately - and can be listened to by anybody following you on Audioboo, subscribed to your RSS feed, or who has added your link to iTunes. The 'Recent Boos' menu of the Android app gives instant access to the most recently published Boos - and there's something of a voyeuristic thrill to be had listening to everything from musicians practising their art, police officers reporting on traffic status, and random drunk people slurring into their mobiles.

Getting to the meat of the app, however: the Record menu. Hitting the middle tab on the supremely simple interface gives you the ability to record your own Boo - just hit Start, wait for the three second countdown, and begin. An in-progress recording is accompanied by a pretty volume graph, allowing you to judge how close you need to be to the microphone, and can be paused and resumed.

That's really it for the Record screen: there's no option for boosting the volume if you're finding the microphone on your smartphone a little lacking, so you're left moving the device closer or shouting if you want to make yourself louder. During our tests, however, the quality of the recording was perfectly clear - although we were in a pretty quiet room at the time.

Once you've recorded your Boo, a tap of the Menu button on your handset brings up the option to publish it on the site. Boos can have photographs attached, a title, and metatags added to make them easier to find on the website - and they're also geotagged with your current location if you enable the option. Once you've uploaded the Boo, however, there's no going back: the current version of the Android app doesn't allow you to access previously published Boos in order to edit or delete them, so you're left with using the website to correct your mistakes.

The final tab allows you to configure the app's options, such as they are: you can link the app to your Audioboo account, which you'll need to do if you want to publish them under your own name, and enable geotagging which will add location information to each Boo created with the app.

VERDICT
Despite a couple of minor crashes, the app seemed responsive and stable during testing. Its clean interface and high-quality recordings impressed, but we were left feeling like the app is still very much a work in progress: there's no way to see your Audioboo followers or followees, no way to send private messages, and not even the option to see or manage your previously uploaded Boos from within the app.

It's a promising start, however - and leagues away from the disastrous launch version. If you've always wanted to be able to waffle on to a largely anonymous Internet audience for up to five minutes at a time, there's nothing better.

SCORE: 70%