On Podcast Apps

Downcast for iOS

Downcast for iOS

Instacast for iPhone

Instacast for iPhone

Podcasts for iOS

Podcasts for iOS

I consume podcasts the way most people consume television. I'm currently subscribed to 40 different feeds, most of which are updated at least once a week, and I listen to probably 80% of them within a few days of release. I listen to podcasts at work, at home, at the gym, on the road, and during my regular trips through time and space. Although I used to rely on the tried and true subscribe-and-sync method of downloading episodes through iTunes and moving it to my iPod over USB, I've used standalone podcatchers on my iPhone for about the last year and a half. The three premier iPhone podcatchers are Downcast, Instacast, and Apple's own Podcasts, and each of them has strengths and weaknesses.

Instacast is my go-to podcatcher. It's slightly less powerful than Downcast, but there's been a great deal more thought put into the way it works. Downcast is weighed down by features that let power users micromanage their settings, but make for a less enjoyable experience. Podcasts a gorgeous  app, and there's always a temptation to stay within the Apple ecosystem to the extent that I can, but it's missing two key features that I can't give up just yet. First, there's no iCloud sync between the app on the iPhone and the iPad - a mind-blowing oversight, what with iCloud becoming increasingly central to Apple's platform strategy. Second, and this is really nit-picking, there's no "Mark All as Played" setting, and that just bugs me.

Downcast for iOS

Downcast for iOS

Instacast for iPhone

Instacast for iPhone

Podcasts for iOS

Podcasts for iOS

But while Downcast left my iPhone long ago, Podcasts remains, waiting for that crucial update that addresses these flaws. I love the aesthetic, and if screenshots of iOS 6 can be trusted, believe that it may spread to other default iPhone apps soon. It bugs me that I can't just be happy with Instacast. Instacast is a great app. But I'm restless when it comes to my devices. I'm always looking for better solutions to problems that have already been solved. I don't think this is common among iOS users. I suspect most people just find something that kind of works for them and roll with it. Maybe that's the right way to do it, and it almost certainly costs them less than my horrible app habit ("My Horrible App Habit" - there's an album title). I don't know what that says about me, but it keeps me exploring, keeps me learning. Maybe one day I'll find a setup that I love, that satisfies me. But not yet. Not today.