Icon for Instacast, iPhone app This is the first of what I intend to be a short series of iPhone app reviews, focusing on just the handful off apps I use every day and consider to be essential.

First up is a podcast catcher and player, Instacast (£1.49 | App store link).

Before I discovered Instacast I was using iTunes on my PC to manage subscriptions, and syncing daily with my phone. iTunes on the phone does allow you download podcast episodes, but won’t let you subscribe to a series to automatically download new episodes. Then after downloading you have to play your podcasts through a different app (then called iPod, now in iOS 5 simply called ‘Music’).

Streamlines the process of finding, downloading and listening to your podcasts

The iPhone music app has notable downside: It’s designed for music. I found that when I wanted to pause a podcast, I would often hit the previous or next button, and would totally lose my place in what might be a several-hour podcast. Instacast’s buttons instead skip you forwards or backwards 30 seconds, turning a horrible experience into a useful feature (ad skipping).

Instacast streamlines the process of finding, downloading and listening to your podcasts, without ever having to deal with iTunes on your computer. It has better support for shownotes and the app is perfectly capable of playing your episodes in the background while you browse other apps. As with the music app, you can also pause and resume your podcast from the lock screen or via the headphone controls when you’re on the move.

If you listen to podcasts, or want to get in the habit, this is definitely an essential app.

(If you’re curious, I tend to get most of my podcasts from the TWiT and 5by5 networks, plus Philosophy Bites, This American Life and Radio Lab.)

Here’s a video that shows you the app in action.

Note: Before Instacast there was Podcaster (though I think it was called RSS Player then). I switched from it because Instacast felt like a much higher quality app. If you feel like comparison shopping, you could consider this one too. I have seen no need to go back.


2 thoughts on “Instacast

  1. How do you listen to the podcasts after dowloading them through Instacast? I want to be able to listen to them through my PC, but download them on my iPhone.

    • Instacast is perfect for be because it’s a better iPhone-only solution. I just tried to check and see if it’s possible to move the podcast files to my computer via iTunes, but the thing is hanging every time I put my phone in! It may be possible – I know it is with some apps.

      You may be better off just downloading through iTunes on your phone, then syncing those podcasts with your PC.

      UPDATE: I finally got my phone to sync, and no, it doesn’t look like you can easily get the MP3 files off. Not in any obvious way.

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