Whether you want to create new broadcasts or listen to them, Anchor aims to make the experience as easy as possible. Strictly speaking, the recordings aren’t podcasts because all of the activity is contained within the app, and Anchor refers to the recordings as ‘waves’. There is also a limit of 2 minutes for each wave, so all in all, you can only make and listen to very short recording through this app.
Anchor has been out for a while on iOS, and has now landed on Android as well. It’s a nicely designed app, you can immediately listen to broadcasts that other users have created. You’ll need to set up an account in order to create your own broadcasts though. When you have set up an account and logged in, you’ll see the same display as before but with a bright microphone button in the bottom right corner of the screen. Press the button, and all you have to do is hold the phone up to your ear as you would for a phone call in order to start recording. It seems obvious and it’s an incredibly simple and effective idea that makes it straightforward to start recording without any of the setup that you might normally associate with recording a podcast. For listening you also have the option of holding your phone to your ear, or use the speaker mode instead. In some ways, this app feels like an audio-only version of Snapchat or Instagram, designed with an element of spontaneity in mind to make sharing content as quick and easy as possible.
Another aspect of the experience that may remind you of Snapchat is the social element. Whereas in Snapchat you might continue a conversation in edited photos, in Anchor you can respond to a broadcast with another broadcast of your own. You also have the usual social options of liking, reposting (‘echo’) and sharing a broadcast. You can save broadcasts that you want to listen to later, and follow other users to have their new broadcasts appear on your feed. The team behind the app call it ‘Radio by the people’, and it does make recording your own broadcasts very accessible. There aren’t many big-name broadcasters signed up yet, and the format is quite different than what we’re used to seeing by other podcast apps, but it’s a fun and novel approach to creating and sharing audio content.