First Day: Downcast

I looked at Instacast a couple days ago and while it was good enough to know I’d no longer need iTunes for Podcasts, but there were enough hiccups to make me look at an alternate, so I picked Downcast. It’s $2 and is universal for both iPhone and iPad. Here’s my impression after 24 hours.

downcastscreenshotI looked at Instacast a couple days ago and while it was good enough to know I’d no longer need iTunes for podcasts, there were enough hiccups to make be look at an alternative, so I picked Downcast. It’s $2 and is universal for both iPhone and iPad.

Like Instacast, it has the features I require:

  • Sort all podcasts from oldest to newest so I can play the oldest first
  • Syncing between devices
  • Podcasts can be downloaded to the device
  • Keeps track of unplayed episodes
  • Handles password protected podcast feeds
  • Can play podcast at double speed (or triple speed, or some fraction in between)

Then it has the features I like but are just nice to have:

  • Can stream without downloading
  • Mixes video podcast in the same list and in the playlists list
  • Supports multiple playlists
  • Has a sleep timer which also works when Downcast is playing in the background. So it doesn’t prevent me from using my alarm clock app.
  • Highly customizable – each podcast or playlist can have it’s own settings or use the global settings

Things I Miss:

  • Nothing – not sure what other features I would want

Dislikes:

  • Granular Settings – this is really only a problem during the first 24 hours, but the large number of settings and my experimentation led to some unexpected results.

Compared to Instacast

I found the interface more intuitive. I only had to read the online help once when I misunderstood the “Sync Episodes” setting. (It syncs the episode status – not the files themselves). The rest was pretty obvious although like many i-device apps it takes some tapping and swiping to find everything. Almost all the interface elements are labeled or pop up a menu when pressed, making it easier to know what’s happening.

I didn’t spend much time with the iPad app, but the interface was much easier for me to use than Instacast. It was functional and made sense.

Instacast is a simpler interface with fewer options and settings. Fewer options isn’t always a bad thing.

The Initial Experience

I emailed an OPML export of my podcasts to myself and then imported them into Downcast. Unlike Instacast it couldn’t read the Music app for my podcast list. I didn’t have any of the bugs or problems that I had with Downcast. My only problems came about when I changed around settings, especially sync settings.

I liked the ability to create playlists more than I thought I would. I also liked being able to assign settings per podcast. I listen to some podcasts at double speed, while others are always regular speed. I can set the defaults for each podcast but change them on th fly if I want to.

I’m keeping both apps on my iDevices, but I’ll be using Downcast until it gives me a reason not to.