While looking for some quality examples of applications built using the Ruby on Rails framework, I came across Odeo.

This San Francisco based company organizes, synchronizes, and publishes podcasts (although it it still in beta and the publishing part isn’t live yet). I’ve only briefly looked at it so far, but it looks very promising. Individual podcasts are tagged, similar to the way bookmarks are tagged at del.icio.us. I have not tried this, but apparently signing up allows users to assign their own tags to podcasts.

Podcasts can be previewed right in the browser (although some previews sound like chipmunks, which according to the FAQ has something to do with sample rates and the flash player). Podcasts can also be subscribed to. Once you have subscribed to a bunch of podcasts, you can automatically download them using Odeo’s Syncr tool, which is available for Windows and Mac, and Linux. Alternatively, you can apparently add your Odeo queue directly to iTunes (only 4.9+), which is most likely preferable to using yet another synchronization tool if you already use iTunes.

The publishing tools sound very interesting as well, although they’re not live yet. These will allow you post podcasts using a browser based interface - no separate audio tools necessary. You can also post a podcast by using your phone to leave a voicemail. And of course you can also post your own podcasts if you already have existing audio files.

I’ve only recently become interested in podcasts (admittedly largely because this functionality is now built into iTunes 4.9 and therefore easily accessible). iTunes podcast interface is very nice, but browsing the hundreds (probably thousands) of podcasts can be a bit cumbersome. I’ll be keeping an eye on Odeo, which seems very usable due to its clean UI, the powerful tag concept, and search functionality. Being able to continue to use iTunes to handle the actual synchronization of podcasts to my iPod, while using Odeo to discover and manage podcasts, sounds like an ideal combination.