July 4, 2012

My New Podcaster

Let me start out by re-iterating that I realize how lame the whole idea of podcast listening sounds. For an outsider it seems like the most boring activity one could engage in.

I just talked about how much I liked using Instacast as my iPhone podcast app of choice. Over the weekend I switched. Now I'm a Downcast guy. Ironically, I am much happier now.

My main requirement for podcasting app is that it has to sync subscriptions and play positions between devices. I use an iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and I want to be able to go from one to another without worrying about where I was at in a podcast. That was the killer feature of Instacast, but it only worked about half of the time for me. I spent more time screwing with it than I if I would just manually skip to the correct position.

I've heard good things about Downcast for a while, but didn't want to spend the money to try another app. The Apple podcast app disappointment put me over the edge. I decided to buy Downcast this weekend. Within minutes I had imported my subscription list on the iPhone and they were automatically populating on the iPad and iPod.
Overall Downcast is simpler. The interface felt weird at first, but I am used to it by now and enjoy its straightforwardness. There aren't any features I miss from Instacast. Overall I think Downcast has even more to offer. I especially like the way playlists are handled in Downcast.

After the Instacast update I never was quite sure how to manage my podcast files. There was a strange difference between marking it as played, removing a downloaded file, removing an item from a playlist, and deleting an episode completely. After a while I gave up trying to figure out what was going on and just manually deleted everything. Downcast is much easier to understand in this regard. There are sometimes when I play an episode on one device and it seems to be marked played but still hangs around on the other device for awhile. Not sure what is going on there, but eventually cleans itself up.

I think Instacast is a very capable app, especially when the syncing works properly. I liked it better before the major update a couple months ago, but if there were no other options I could happily use it for years to come. That being said, Downcast is better for what I want right now. It is also cheaper. The icon is pretty ugly. But it works. And it works well.

Here is a good write up Robert over at Gridwriter talking about his move to Downcast and the podcast controversy.

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