All posts tagged instacast

→ Instacast for Mac now Available in the Mac App Store

My favorite Mac podcast app, Instacast, is now available in the Mac Appstore1. If you are someone who has avoided buying it simply because you prefer Mac App Store versions, now is your chance to pick it up.


  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link.) 

→ Chris Gonzales on moving from Instacast to Pocket Casts 4

Chris Gonzales has moved from Instacast1 toPocket Casts 4. I have heard good things about Pocket Casts, but I find this paragraph interesting:

The only issue I've come across with this sync service so far is that episode playback position doesn't reliably transfer between my iPhone and iPad. I'd like to say that I can pause an episode on one device and pick it back up on the other, but that hasn't been my experience so far. The second device acts as if the episode hasn't been played at all.

That seems like a big issue to me. I use Instacast on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and I rarely have any issues with sync.2 I cannot imagine moving to a podcasting ecosystem that: (1) has no Mac app, and (2) does not have reliable syncing. That sounds terrible.


  1. Affiliate Link (as are all product links in this post.) 

  2. This has not always been the case. Instacast's sync used to be somewhat hit and miss. Over time, however, it has become quite reliable for me. 

→ Instacast Cloud Sync Outage

Yesterday evening (european time) something happened with Instacast Cloud’s sync server that made it completely inaccessible. After a failed attempt to restore from a recent backup, we contacted Host Europe, our provider, and escalated the issue. However, Host Europe’s personnel were not able to restore from the corrupt backup either, and they told us that all data on the server is GONE (yikes!). This, as you can imagine, is the worst possible scenario that could happen to Instacast Cloud. Backups are there for a reason, and if a backup system fails, and also fails to report that it failed, there is no chance of a quick recovery.

They had to re-setup the server from scratch, however, none of your sync information should be lost. Based on my minimal trials this morning, it appears that everything is working again.

→ Macro Arment announces his new podcasting app Overcast

Here are some notes that Marco included with the announcement:

Overcast 1.0 will be an iPhone app. I plan to get iPad support done relatively soon, but probably not for 1.0. I may never do a Mac app — that’s still up in the air, but definitely not for 1.0. And I have no plans to support Android — if you want an Android app, I hear Pocket Casts blows away everything else available, and they’re nice guys.

I have no plans to support video podcasts. That’s an entirely different medium with very different consumption habits, priorities, and needs. I can make a better app for audio podcasts by not supporting video at all.

I don’t plan to support streaming in 1.0, and may never add it. Overcast 1.0 will only play downloaded files. iOS 7’s background downloads, faster cellular networks, and larger-capacity phones have greatly reduced the need for streaming, and by not supporting it, I’m able to add some cool features and simplify a lot of the code and interface.

I give credit to Marco for determining what he thinks is the best solution for a podcasting app. Personally, I need a lot more from my podcasting applications than Marco is going to give initially,1 but Overcast might be a good fit for some people.

Relatedly, David Smith of Feed Wrangler just released a new podcatcher called Pod Wrangler which seems to have a similar approach to Overcast.2 If you are looking for a new podcatcher while Overcast is developed, it might be worth it to give Pod Wrangler a shot.3


  1. As I have stated many times, I am firmly entrenched in the Instacast ecosystem.  

  2. i.e. Fast syncing, no frills, reliable background dowloading, first version iPhone only, etc… 

  3. Federico Viticci wrote a review of PodWrangler over at MacStories if you want more information. 

→ Quick Tips for Instacast 4 – Vemedio

Some cool tips for the new version of Instacast 41. My personal favorite:

With Instacast 4 you can now import individual episodes from the directory without subscribing the whole podcast. To do that, load the directory preview of the podcast, scroll down and tap on a particular episode. Next, choose “Import” from the action menu. Individual episodes get imported into a list called “Imported Episodes”.

Also, background downloading of podcast episodes is amazing. I am not sure how I lived without this feature before.


  1. Affiliate Link 

→ Instacast 4: Revamped for iOS 7

Cody Fink’s review makes me even more excited to try it out.

→ Federico Viticci reviews Pocket Casts 4 for iOS 7

Pocket Casts 4 is a great podcast client for iOS 7. The push notification and sync systems are reliable, and automatic downloads finally make for an invisible download experience that happens behind the scenes and you don’t have to think about. I found filter management to be simpler and yet more powerful than other alternatives on iOS, and, especially on the iPhone, the app takes advantage of the iOS 7 aesthetic while still adding great custom details and animations. There is some roughness and a few minor bugs, particularly on the iPad, and I hope that Shifty Jelly will quickly iterate on those aspects (hopefully with some help from Apple with fixes to the iOS 7 code; please note that the app has been reviewed under the iOS 7 GM seed).

Pocket Casts sounds like a really solid iOS podcatcher, however, I am far too deep into the Instacast ecosystem to consider making a switch.1


  1. Of course, we still do not know how good the iOS version of Instacast is going to be. I am crossing my fingers that it is a nice upgrade from the current one. 

→ Venmedio Announces that Instacast 4 will be a Free Upgrade

I figure that Venmedio wants to avoid the backlash associated with having a paid upgrade, but I am worried this does not bode well for the long-term life of the product.

→ Downcast for Mac Released

Following in the footsteps of Instacast, Downcast has released a Mac App1. Also, in celebration of that release, the Downcast iOS app is on sale.


  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link and all app links in this post.) 

→ Instacast for Mac as a Macworld Mac Gem

On its own, Instacast is a great app that deserves a spot on your Mac if you listen to podcasts. It’s been deliberately designed to provide all the important features you need without overloading you with needless extras. Coupled with its iOS counterparts, however, Instacast is an absolute pleasure to use. The sync feature is powerful and automatic, letting you jump seamlessly between devices, perfectly matching today’s mobile lifestyles.

I completely agree. I am really happy in the Instacast world.

→ Instacast’s Roadmap for the Upcoming iOS and OS X Upgrades

Instacast for Mac is going to upgrades to make it work better with Mavericks. On the other hand, Instacast for iOS is going to get a whole new version to take advantage of the new features of iOS. Needless to say, people are not pleased with that decision.

Living Comfortably in the Instacast Ecosystem

After a few years of dealing with shortcomings of various iOS podcasting apps, I can now finally say that I am happily living in the Instacast ecosystem.

(Fairly) Reliable Syncing

If iCloud has shown anything, it is that syncing is hard. After fighting with iCloud syncing for approximately a year, Instacast developer Vemido moved to its own syncing solution for Instacast 3 for iOS[1]. This was a great move. The new sync is faster and more reliable than any other alternative I have seen, including iCloud. Though there are occasional hiccups in the sync[2], I rarely run into problems if I consistently use my various devices. Also, as an added major benefit, the new syncing solution does not result in the battery drain that I felt was prevalent among iCloud podcast syncing solutions.

Instacast for Mac

Though syncing across my iPhone and iPad was a huge feature, it was actually the release of Instacast for Mac that really made me love the Instacast ecosystem.

I admit, when I first downloaded the Instacast for Mac, I thought I would have little use for a podcast client on my Mac. I was completely wrong. I use Instacast for Mac all the time. Aside from Instacast for Mac’s ability to easily play all of my favorite podcasts, what really makes it such a major part of my podcast listening and managing experience is its excellent podcast and playlist management features. In Instacast for Mac, you can easily drag and drop individual podcast episodes from your podcast subscriptions into the various playlists that you have created. This is especially helpful for dealing with feeds like Grantland’s Pop Culture podcast, where I only listen to 1 out of the 3 or 4 shows that are put in the feed. Before Instacast for Mac, I would have to notice when the one show I actually like was added to the feed, and then manually add it to the playlist in the iOS app via a playlist’s “Add Episode” menu. Since the “Add Episode” menu is just a chronological list of all episodes in Instacast, it could be quite difficult to find the actual episode that I wanted to add if I did not get it within the first day or so of it being available. Now, I can just go to the specific subscription, drag and drop a particular episode to given playlist, and I’m done.[3] This means that I can easily create small, custom playlists whenever I want, something that is especially useful when long car drives are coming up.

Adding episodes to playlists, however, is only one of the excellent podcast and playlist management features found in Instacast for Mac. Tasks such as re-ordering subscriptions and playlists, renaming playlists, and even subscribing to podcasts, seem much easier on Instacast for Mac than they ever were in the iOS version. Of course, what makes these features so important, is that the results are synced almost instantly to your iOS devices.

One (Minor) Remaining Issue – Feed Refresh

The one minor remaining issue that I have with the current Instacast ecosystem is feed refreshing in the various apps. Currently, the refresh mechanism takes approximately 20–40 seconds for my 73 podcast subscriptions.[4] Though that refresh can be annoying when it forces me to wait for that new episode of a given podcast that I know is available, the bigger problem is that this refresh makes the Instacast iOS app unresponsive for about 10–15 seconds when it occurs. Now, iOS 7 will alleviate some of this hassle, with its new background downloading APIs[5], but I think that does not go far enough. Instead, I hope that Instacast implements a server-side refresh of feeds, similar to the one found in Shifty Jelly’s Pocketcasts. Obviously, if Vemedio had to implement this type of server side processing on its own, it could be a time consuming, labor intensive, and resouce-costly process. Thankfully, David Smith, creator of Feed Wrangler, mentioned in a recent interview on the 15 Minutes with… podcast that he felt Feed Wrangler could be easily integrated into podcasting clients for a feed refreshing back end. I think adding “Feed Wrangler feed refresh” as an option in Instacast could be a major performance and, possibly, usability improvement. [6]

Conclusion

Ultimately, the combination of custom Instacast cloud syncing and the release of Instacast for Mac relieved almost all the issues I previously had with iOS podcasting apps. At this point, I feel that I listen to more podcasts then I ever have before, but I spend much less time managing them. Consequently, I had no problem signing up to become an Instacast member. I really enjoy Instacast’s podcast ecosystem and I want to do what I can to help support Instacast’s ongoing development.

If you are someone who enjoys listening to podcasts on your Mac or iOS device, I highly recommend giving Instacast a try. If you are already an Instacast user, then I suggest that you at least consider becoming an Instacast member to help support a great ecosystem of podcasting apps.


  1. Affiliate Link (as are other App Store links in this post).  ↩

  2. For example, my iPad seems to overwrite the played status of certain podcasts if I have not opened the iPad version of the app in a few days. This normally means I have to "Mark as Played’ an episode or two that I listened to a few days ago, but Instacast now thinks is unplayed. It does not happen all the time, but it happens enough to be noticeable.  ↩

  3. I have to point out that implementation of the drag-and-drop functionality in Instacast is especially awesome. If you are viewing “Subscriptions” in the left panel, but drag a single podcast episode over that panel, the panel automatically switches to “Lists” so you can drop that episode into a playlist. It’s brilliant.  ↩

  4. I have managed to cut down my number of subscriptions substantially, from a high of around 150. Now, instead loading Instacast with any feed I think I may want to listen to, I put a lot of podcast feeds into a Feed Wrangler smartstream. I then use the amazing HuffDuffer to build up a custom feed of just episodes from those shows that I want to listen to and I put that HuffDuffer feed into Instacast.  ↩

  5. At this point, there is no reason for Vemedio to implement one of those geo-fencing hacks like Downcast has. Time would be better served making sure Instacast works with the new background API.  ↩

  6. I can see at least two ways that Instacast could integrate with Feed Wrangler. One, Instacast could have an option where you log into an existing Feed Wrangler account, select a particular smart stream, and that smart stream is your subscription list from that point forward. This could obviously result in some interesting usability issues (e.g. can someone update his or her subscription list from both Feed Wrangler and Instacast?, does the initial smartstream selection replace your existing subscriptions or does merge take place?), but it would allow for people who have a Feed Wrangler subscription to leverage Feed Wrangler in Instacast, while allowing those who do not have a subscription to still use Instacast’s built in RSS refresh functionality. Alternatively, Instacast’s sole method of feed refresh could be offloaded to the Feed Wrangler cloud, no individual user accounts would be required, and Vemedio and David Smith could work on some kind of revenue split for copies of Instacast that are sold. This would probably take more custom integration with Feed Wrangler than the other alternative. Of course, I am probably missing a much better alternative, and I have complete confidence in Vemedio and David Smith to develop an awesome feed refresh solution, should Vemedio choose to go this route.  ↩

→ Instacast for Mac – Public Beta Available

Really great beta release for the Mac version of my iOS podcat client of choice. The little details in the UI are particularly impressive1.


  1. For example, select a podcast while in “Subscriptions” mode, and then drag an episode to the left bar. A surprising, and well done, UI experience occurs. 

→ The Verge on the new PocketCasts for Android

[T]he app has been completely overhauled for its new version 4, and the results are fantastic.

The UI is attractive, simple, and Android-native; while it has a distinct style, it looks like it was designed for the platform, and just about everything works the way you’d expect across both phones and tablets. The effortless cross-device podcast syncing is a killer feature, too, especially as it’ll be compatible with iOS once that app gets its own update.

Sounds like a winner from the guys at Shifty Jelly. It will be interesting to see how much Instacast1 improves between now and when PocketCasts comes out for iOS. Currently, I am quite pleased with Instacast as my primary podcast client, but PocketCasts’ speed, even in its current version, could make it really intriguing when it gets its next update. I am sure Instacast’s developer is taking notice.


  1. Affiliate Link 

→ Instacast’s Automatic Download Management

The developer of Instacst1 explains why he made changes to the management of downloaded files in Instacast:

To recap, Instacast 2 had a myriad of settings to control automatic download and automatic deletion of content. This let to a number of issue. First, Instacast 2 had problems always enforcing all settings as a lot of them were in conflict with each other. This let to situations where you thought Instacast should automatically download the content of a particular episode, but didn’t and vice versa. Same with automatic deletion, it could happen that you fell asleep and suddenly Instacast had deleted the content and you had to re-download it all over again.

and how he addressed it:

I came up with the concept of moving the content management into settings and have access to manual management right from there. This has the advantage of not needing to go into every single episode to delete the content, plus people are not confused anymore what “Delete Episode” means. Then I removed all auto-deletion features and replaced them with only one rule: “Delete the content, when you have to”…, because you run out of space. Instacast then would start deleting content of old episodes first as long as they haven’t been marked as favorite.

Personally, I really like the changes2, but I can understand why there will be other tweaks coming:

I will make some changes in Instacast 3.1. I will add two options that have to be enabled manually. You will be able to configure automatic deletion of content after an episode finished playing or as soon as the episode gets marked as played. Both of these options can be overwritten in subscription specific settings. I will also make some adjustments to the indicators Instacast is giving in the hope to remove the confusion. And finally I will grey out episodes in the “Offline Storage” settings that had already been played.

To me, this sounds like making a good solution even better. Of course, I wonder if it will be enough to placate the people who want it “back the way it was.”


  1. Affiliate Link 

  2. I do admit they took a little getting used to, but the whole system works much better once you understand it. 

The Brooks Review and Instacast – Two Things To Become a Member Of

A recent episode of the B&B Podcast and the release of Instacast 31 made me think about the “memberships” that some sites offer. If you are looking to support people doing good work online and in various app stores, I suggest you become members of the following:

  • The Brooks Review – The quality of Ben Brooks’ recent work has vaulted him to the top of the link-blog / tech blog / mac blog mountain. His pieces are getting more in-depth and more insightful. It is well worth the $4 a month to support his site and encourage him to continue doing such quality work.

  • Instacast – The recent update to Instacast has solidified its position as the podcasting app for iOS. Recently, the developer also announced that there would be a Mac version of Instacast to complement the existing iOS versions. An iOS and Mac podcasting ecosystem, held together with Instacast’s new Cloud Sync, sounds amazing. By becoming an Instacast member, you can help support the development of the app and the further improvement of the syncing engine.2


  1. Affiliate Link 

  2. One additional member benefit is that members got early access to the 3.0 version, and got the 3.0 version for free when it was released. I am not sure that will happen with the Mac version, but I have heard rumblings that it is the case. 

→ Instacast 3 FAQ arrives as a Preview to Instacast 3’s Release

I have high hopes for this release1. In fact, I have a feeling this could finally solve the problems I have been having with podcasting apps on iOS. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the next couple of weeks as I wait for the release.

→ Instacast Memberships

I use Instacast1 as my primary podcast client2, so it is a no brainer for me to sign up for one of these memberships.. My hope is that these memberships provide additional resources that allow the development of a robust, new syncing platform.


  1. Affiliate Link 

  2. I do use multiple podcast clients, but Instacast is by far my favorite 

→ Downcast updated with Background Feed Downloads

Downcast1 has been chipping away at the issuses I had with it. This time, they have reduced the amount of time necessary to refresh the feed list by having the feeds auto-update via geo-fencing2. Unfortunately, Downcast still appears to suffer from the battery drain issue that was one of the show-stoppers for me previously.3 If Downcast were to get this fixed, it would probably be my sole podcast app.


  1. Affiliate Link (as are all app links in this post.) 

  2. It is very similar to the way Instapaper does it 

  3. Talking with Downcast support, it appears that this battery drain is likely a result of the iCloud syncing. In fact, the support representative encouraged me to try to use the app without syncing turned on to see how it performs. Maybe it is time for Downcast to follow the lead of Instacast and explore some other syncing alternatives

→ The State of Instacast Syncing

Martin Hering on the state of syncing for Instacast:

I thought about this problem very hard for a long time. I would like to have a reliable syncing solution that works instantanously, is fast and doesn’t suffer from erratic glitches. I’ve come to the conclusion that these goals are not achievable with iCloud at the moment and may not be for the forseeable future.

Based on my experimentation with various podcast apps, I agree with Mr. Hering. It seems that iCloud is just not the right solution for this type of podcast syncing. Mr. Hering goes on to discuss alternatives to using iCloud. My favorite is:

The other alternative would be to find another server provider specialized in data syncing across devices. The advantage would be that I don’t need to maintain server reliability and security and that I don’t need to reinvent the syncing wheel. The disadvantage of course is to give up control. Luckily I found a service provider that looks very promising. First tests have shown that their sync works amazingly well and is very fast and quite reliable. I am talking about Simperium, the guys behind Simplenode. They took their syncing experience and created an awesome service. I am very impressed and at the same time very disappointed by Apple that they are not able to achieve what a small team of four guys did. The service is powered by Google App Engine, so the servers are really reliable and the transfer speed is awesome.

I have used SimpleNote for quite awhile and their syncing has proven to be extremely reliable. I think this would be a great option for Instacast. I would be willing to pay a subscription fee for that.