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.


Boom, thanks for the rec. Will it import my OPML file?

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.

Matt Pearson says:

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. 🙂

Matt Pearson says:

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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