I’ve solved my podcast problem

Since I started using Rdio I’ve run into a prob­lem: I never open iTunes. This is mostly okay as Rdio replaced my local iTunes library. The down­side is that my pod­casts live in iTunes. By not open­ing the app the pod­casts never update and I for­get they exist.

A few days ago some­one, I have no idea who to credit because Twitter search is a clus­ter­fuck, who I fol­low on Twitter men­tioned Instacast. It’s fantastic.

Instacast gives you a native iOS app that is built around one thing: sub­scrib­ing and lis­ten­ing to pod­casts. It’s a great exam­ple of a focused app that does one thing and does it really damn well. Best of all it’s not con­nected to my iTunes library. My pod­casts now update every time I open Instacast. No need to be chained to iTunes.

The player is also tuned specif­i­cally for pod­casts. The built-in Music app places a vol­ume slider at the bot­tom, Instacast has a time slider. It still has all the nec­es­sary things like AirPlay and local caching.

Overall it’s just a really well-polished app. I’m excited to get back into pod­casts now that they’re more eas­ily updated right on my iPhone.

5 thoughts on “I’ve solved my podcast problem

    • It’ll import any­thing from your iPod music app on your iPhone. No way to import a stand­alone OPML file though.

      The miss­ing puz­zle piece in this would be a web app from them that syncs with your phone data. That would truly com­plete things.

  1. Heard Instacast bandied about a bit. Been think­ing of leap­ing to it, and you might just tip me over the edge.

    Lack of love for OPML aside, does Instacast do any kind of sched­uled or oppor­tunis­tic trickle down­load­ing? Or put another way, will it ham­mer my con­nec­tion by “down­load­ing all of the things!!” when I’m oth­er­wise using the device, or require that the app be open itself… or is it able to wake up in the mid­dle of the night when on AC power and take care of pulling its bits across the wire when it makes more sense? Or… well I guess one can only do so much within the world of iOS.

    I like that it’s not chained to iTunes. Then again, I have iTunes run­ning else­where on my net­work pretty much 24/7, both to down­load pod­casts oppor­tunis­ti­cally (-ish, as iTunes is a ter­ri­ble net­work cit­i­zen and stomps all over my band­width) and to serve up my library to other devices. I hate things that are chained to iTunes more because iTunes so deeply sucks at every­thing out­side its orig­i­nal “juke­box” core func­tion­al­ity. But I quite like hav­ing some­thing some­where pulling things down for me rather than being con­tin­gent to me man­u­ally run­ning an app. And if iTunes actu­ally did its job, and if ye olde “new” wifi sync­ing actu­ally func­tioned, I’d be in Event-Driven Daemon Nirvana.

    I love focused, highly pol­ished apps… but that’s only half (and arguably the less impor­tant half) of the Unix Philosophy. Gotta have good inputs and out­puts. OPML would be a rea­son­able start (espe­cially for boot­strap­ping). Even bet­ter would be hook­ing var­i­ous feed-reader APIs to do away with the “dis­parate buck­ets of feeds” prob­lem (see Huffduffer’s use-cases). And like you noted, sync­ing state & data would be awe­some… bet­ter to one’s “per­sonal cloud” than a cen­tral­ized webapp though. Say, using Dropbox (or some­thing sim­i­lar that ACTUALLY has a sync­ing API) as its

    And then going pie-in-the-sky here, build atop that foun­da­tion, and stitch into the AirPlay/AudioHijack/SeamlessApp expe­ri­ence, with some Locale trig­gers driz­zled on top. Only thing more con­ve­nient than Siri is the Siri that reads your mind, right? The only thing bet­ter than a highly pol­ished app that does its one thing very well is hav­ing such an app that doesn’t have to bother with ancil­lary tasks, and instead lets other apps that focus & pol­ish such func­tion­al­ity han­dle them instead, prefer­ably with­out you even hav­ing to give them a sec­ond thought. The only thing that’s faster than the fastest most mag­i­cal sync oper­a­tion ever is the sync that’s already happened.

    Oh hey, also, how does Instacast han­dle adding new sub­scrip­tions, after the ini­tial import from one’s iOS Music.app? Are we back to hunt­ing for RSS/Atom feeds, or is there a shiny cat­a­log of sorts?

    • I think they’re ham­strung by iOS in that the app must be open in order for new episodes to be down­loaded. For sync­ing it does ship with iCloud sup­port so that if you’re a multi-iOS device user every­thing will stay synced.

      After the ini­tial import from one’s Music.app there is a nifty and shiny cat­a­log of pod­casts. It had every­thing I sub­scribe to in there and the gen­eral cat­a­log seemed pretty expan­sive. There’s also the option to input a feed manually.

      Sidenote, you leave the best com­ments, Matt. :)

      • Yeah, kind of fig­ured iOS was to blame for… well, all those things that iOS is to blame for.

        I’m glad you appre­ci­ate my com­ments… espe­cially when I inex­plic­a­bly kill a para­graph mid-sentence. I promise I didn’t pass out whilst typ­ing or something.

        You keep writ­ing things that press my but­tons, I’ll keep fill­ing these there threads :-) .

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