Instacast ($1.99) by Vemedio is a minimalistic and smooth app to help you manage and stream your podcasts on your iPhone and iPod Touch.
Chances are that you have listened to a podcast at some point in your life, right? Managing those podcasts that you like can be a pain if done through iTunes. Luckily, I'm here to tell you about an app that will make iTunes completely unnecessary in getting to your favorite podcasts. Meet Instacast.
Instacast is a very minimalistic and slick app for all of your podcast needs. In a way, the interface is reminiscent of Tweetie from back in the day, before Twitter bought it and gave us that intrusive Quick Bar. But that's an entirely different story.
The interface in Instacast almost melts away and feels like something that Apple should have built into the iPhone in the first place.
On the main screen, you'll find it will be empty, with an Edit button at the top and a + button at the bottom left. There are also three views - Starred, All Episodes, and Cached. The first thing you'll probably want to do is to start adding your podcasts.
What if you have a bunch of podcasts already in your iPod.app? Don't worry, Instacast will allow you to add the podcasts that are already on your device, via the "iPod" tab in the Search screen. Additionally, you can browse Popular, Just Added, Genres, or just Search by Title, Author, or Description. Whatever you may be looking for, Instacast should have you covered.
Once you find some podcasts and subscribe to them, they will appear in the All Episodes tab. You can refresh the entire list for any new episodes by the standard de-facto "pull to refresh" function at the top of the list.
By default, a newly subscribed to podcast will mark all the latest episodes as unread, which can be a bit annoying. Thankfully, there is an option to mark all episodes as heard, and you can remark the latest one as unheard. I hope that in the future they will improve it so that only the most recent one is put in the list as new, because it's quite overwhelming to see that you have 50 unheard podcast episodes.
Once you find an episode you want to listen to, select it to view the show description and notes, and then hit the Start button to finally play the selected episode. If you want to add something to Favorites (Starred), then you can tap on the Star button on the bottom menubar. You can also mark an episode as unheard, or even cache it for offline listening.
The Now Playing interface is nice and clean, and you get the podcast artwork shown nice and big in the middle. The title and episode number are shown at the top, and the bottom contains the audio scrubber, time elapsed and remaining, and back, pause/play, forward buttons. If you're watching a video podcast, the controls are just like when you watch any other video on your device.
Instacast also fully supports multitasking, so you don't need to always be in the app to listen to your podcasts. Instacast also appears in the audio controls to the left of the multitasking dock, so it works just like the iPod.app.
Unfortunately, Instacast is missing the ability to play your podcast at faster speeds, something that can be found in Podcaster. If you're a user that can only listen to podcasts at the sped-up pace, then you'll be disappointed by the lack of this feature in Instacast. However, if you do not change the speed of your podcasts, then Instacast works fine.
Currently, Instacast is a very polished 1.0 app for podcast management. It can only improve from this point on, so hopefully they add features like various audio playback speeds in future updates. If you're a podcast fan, make sure to check out Instacast - it's definitely worth it.