Tung podcast app, from Denver developer, aims to make listening more social

Like Soundcloud, users can timestamp and comment on episodes. Like Spotify, it’s part social network. Users can also share clips to other social sites.

Colorado native Jamie Perkins loves podcasts. In fact, he loves them so much he built what he’s calling the first social networking-based podcast streaming app.

The app, which launched at the end of July, has standard podcast features, like offline playback, variable playback speed and new episode notification, in addition to its social features. 

Perkins initially designed Tung as a sound clip sharing app. He released it in beta to his friends and found that the quality of user-generated content was really poor. Since podcasts already have very high audio and content quality — including his favorite, Hospital Records — so he revamped the app to focus on those beloved podcasts and the intimacy inherent to audio content.

Tung lets you timestamp and comment on podcasts. (Courtesy of Tung)
Tung lets you timestamp and comment on podcasts. (Courtesy of Tung)

“‘Tung’ makes you think of speaking and when you listen to podcasts you have an intimate setting for listening,” he said. “The person is right in your ear. You can hear their tongues moving around in their mouths — plus I thought it was kind of grabby.”

Like Soundcloud, users can timestamp and comment on episodes. Like Spotify, the app is part social network. Users can also share clips of podcasts and post them to other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Friends can listen to posted clips without leaving the host site. Perkins said he doesn’t know any other app that allows podcast clip sharing.

And unlike other apps that may have one feed for trending podcasts, Tung has two. The trending feed lets users see which podcasts are popular and the following feed lets users view what is popular–among their friends.

Screenshots of subscription feature and friend recommendation in action. (Photos courtesy of Tung)
Screenshots of subscription feature and friend recommendation in action. (Photos courtesy of Tung)

“I saw a gap in the space for social-derived discovery of podcasts,” Perkins explained. He thinks Tung fills that void.

In podcasting, there’s Apple, and then there’s everybody else. In addition to the popular Stitcher app, there are Overcast, Pocket Casts and Downcast and tons more. Overcast has a type of social networking feature, but it isn’t central to the functionality the way Perkins describes Tung.

While there may be a lot of competition in the world of podcast apps, they are competing for an ever growing audience of mobile podcast listeners. According to a study released by Edison Research, 21 percent of Americans ages 12 and up listened to a podcast within the last month — that’s about 57 million Americans — up from 15 percent in 2014.

Most of those 2014 listeners tuned in via computer. Today about 64 percent of podcasts are streamed on a mobile device or tablet.

Jamie Perkins, developer behind Tung. (Courtesy of Jamie Perkins)
Jamie Perkins, developer behind Tung. (Courtesy of Jamie Perkins)

Perkins, 36, started as a designer out of college, but he was always interested in web developing.

“I started with Flash, back in the day,” he laughed. “Then I just kind of worked up from there.”

He’s lived in Boulder, Fort Collins and now Denver. He admits that though the Denver/Boulder tech scene is strong, he usually works alone. He said it has been tough.

“It’s hard to sell your friends on your idea, convincing someone else to put a bunch of time into something. They have to feel really passionately about it,” Perkins said. His friends don’t really like podcasts.

He said he’s been getting help from friends in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto. If the app ever makes it big, he has an idea who his team will be.

Tung currently supports few users, but Perkins said it is growing. His goal is for it to get big enough that he can someday quit his day job.

Tung is available for free on the iTunes store, but is not yet available for Android.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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