Shawn Blanc on Instacast, and why it isn't for me

March 31, 2011

The two ways to get a new podcast episode onto your iPhone are either: (a) tap "get more episodes", be taken to the iTunes app and then pick a single episode to download to your iPhone, wait for it to download, return to the iPod app and play the episode; or else (b) sync your iPhone to your computer and transfer any new episodes which have downloaded to your computer onto your iPhone.

Instacast, the podcast app for iOS that can download podcasts over the air (and in a manner that is much less annoying than the way the iPod app does it; see above quote), has seen a lot of positive press these last couple of weeks, and deservedly so, but it just isn't for me.

The main problem is that I listen to podcasts on both my phone and computer, and while Instacast maintains play position within the app, it doesn't (and very likely can't) sync that information with the iPod app. This means that if I want to finish listening to a podcast on my Mac, that I started listening to with Instacast, I have to manually sync positions between them. No thanks.

I charge my iPhone only when sitting at my computer, so syncing via cable, while annoying and, let's face it, a bit anachronistic, really isn't an issue for me.

Another thing that kind of bothered me about Instacast is that I had to manually subscribe to all of my podcasts, and I listen to a ton of them. Yes, it can show me a list of the podcasts I currently am subscribed to (by looking at information maintained by the iPod app), but within that list I still have to subscribe to each one individually. Why not give us a "Subscribe to all" option? (I haven't seen others complain about this, so it's possible I missed the feature, but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out.)

Another great addition to the app would be a 30-second forward skip, so that I can more easily jump over commercials. I really wish you guys could see and hear me when a commercial for Audible starts--it's not a good look.

Other than the niggles above, I have to agree with Shawn that the interface and design are great, and, for what it's worth, I quite like the icon.

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