So it turns out there’s a sneaky way to “speed-listen” to podcasts (and audiobooks) on iPhones/iPods — speeding them up so you listen to them faster. It’s useful because while here are some great podcasts available — like TWiT and jkOntheRun’s Mobile Tech Roundup — they take time to get through in their entirety, and if you subscribe to a few of them that time commitment can get pretty large.
The iPhone/iPod has a built-in control in the player to speed up the playback of audio files, but it’s only available if you set up the audio files as podcasts or audiobooks — if your device thinks it’s playing a music file (the default), it won’t offer you the control.
To set up the track correctly in iTunes, select it and go to File->Get Info, and under the “Options” tab, ensure that “Media Kind” is set to “Podcast” (or “Audiobook”).
On an iPhone/iPod touch, tap the screen while the file is playing and you’ll see a little “1x” icon at the top-right — tap that, and it’ll change to “2x” Your file is now playing at twice the speed. Better yet, it seems to use time stretching, so you don’t end up listening to high-pitched “chipmunk” voices.
This technique works pretty well on all the podcasts I listen to; even podcasters who speak fairly quickly to start with remain understandable — and you can always quickly switch back to normal speed if things get too fast.
Note that you could also do something similar by listening to your podcasts using Windows Media Player, which also has a built-in speed control (which actually works on all audio files, not just those tagged as podcasts), or you could speed up the files themselves by pre-processing them using software like Audacity.
Have a tip for more productive podcast consumption? Share it in the comments!