Monday, October 7, 2013

On iOS Podcast Apps - Downcast is the One I am Using But May Switch to Pocket Casts

Finding an iOS podcast app I really like has proven harder than I thought it would be. I've tried Downcast, Instacast, Pocket Casts and Pod Wrangler. They each have strengths and weaknesses:
  • Instacast does a nice job of importing podcasts in the background. This is an important feature for me because when I get up in the morning I like having all my podcasts downloaded without the need for me to load the app. I often forget to do that in my rush to get out the door. However, Instacast has limited playlist and smart playlist support. Also, in Instacast I end up seeing a bunch of older episodes of podcasts that I am not interested in. They aren't downloaded but I don't even want to see them.
  • Downcast has extensive support for playlists and smart playlists. But podcasts don't update in the background. The list will refresh in the background but will time out before all the podcasts have downloaded. The developer says background downloading is coming in the next version of the app.
  • Pocket Casts is elegant and its style is very iOS 7. I love the look of the app. And podcasts download in the background beautifully. There is also great support for playlists and smart playlists. [But I like to plug my iPhone into my car using a 30-pin to Thunderbolt adapter and listen to podcasts. My iPhone charges and I can listen to my podcasts. This works fine with Instacast, Downcast, Audible and the stock Apple Music app. But it doesn't work with Pocket Casts. I've written the developer and I get a quick response but they say they don't have a way to test this where they are in Australia. Also when I play a video podcast and switch away from the video the audio stops. This doesn't happen with Instacast or Downcast.] I am pleased to report that as of October 9th the latter issues have been resolved. The developer even followed up with me to ask me to verify that these issues have been picked. That's superb customer service and I am now torn between Pocket Casts and Downcast. 
  • Pod Wrangler is just too bare bones for me but in my limited testing the app did seem to download podcasts in the background just fine.
For the moment I am using Downcast and once the app includes background downloading I will be a happy camper.