Instacast HD is a podcast app that is changing the face of podcast management. The app can find new podcasts to subscribe to, download or stream podcasts you are already subscribed to, allow you to listen to or view your podcasts, and access links in the show notes. It takes a feature that has not seen much love from Apple and makes it enjoyable again!
Some people may not realize that by ditching the iTunes methodology of podcast management there is so much more to gain in the podcast universe. The workflow to update podcasts either involves manually downloading the episode through the iTunes app on your iPad or syncing through iTunes on your Mac, which seems archaic….
Instacast HD changes the way podcasts are downloaded and keeps everything in one app. The app will even download or stream an episode on the go if you happen to be rocking an iPad 3G.
Setting up your podcast subscriptions in Instacast HD could not be easier, even if you are coming from the iTunes ecosystem. When adding a podcast subscription there is an option to add the podcast currently on your iPad through the music app. Viewing this option is under the subscribe button. Also under the subscribe button are charts showing the most popular podcasts and search functionality so that you can find podcasts to add to your subscription listing.
If you already own the iPhone version of Instacast then you have the easiest migration possible, thanks to iCloud. In the iPhone version of Instacast, navigate to the settings menu to turn on iCloud sync. When opening Instacast HD, an option will be available to sync to iCloud.
Simply enter your credentials and all of your subscribed podcasts will populate the Instacast HD app. iCloud sync does not just support the backup of your subscription listing but also supports playback position sync. This means that if I am listening to a podcast on my iPhone and I quit listening, the position will be synced to iCloud so that if I pick up listening to that podcast on my iPad the position is synced. Just hit play on the iPad and it is like you never took a break!
Instacast HD also supports push notifications. The push notifications will let you know that a new episode is available for download for immediate podcast consumption.
Instacast HD is a complete redesign of the iPhone application in order to take advantage of the screen real estate the iPad offers. The design of the app is split into three areas, the menu bar, subscription listing, and the show notes area.
The menu bar resides on the left side of the screen whether the iPad is held in portrait or landscape. The menu bar contains buttons for subscribing to new podcast, viewing the download manager, different view options, activating AirPlay, and volume options.
The download manager is only available when podcasts are being downloaded because it allows you to prioritize your downloads, or even put the downloads on pause.
The different view options are the starred view, the subscription listing, and the downloaded podcast view. Usually my view stays in the downloaded podcast view, so I can see how many episodes I have downloaded. Under the view options you can find the AirPlay and Volume options. These options are always visible which is a great feature.
Instead of having to double tap the home button to navigate to the volume slider and AirPlay, these options are always visible for easy access to adjust the volume or to send a video podcast to your Apple TV.
The next pane is the subscription listing. This view will change depending on which view you have activated in the menu bar. The listing is a scrolling list of your podcast artwork with corresponding numbers on the right hand corner of the artwork. For example, if I am in the downloaded view and I have one episode of The B&B Podcast downloaded, a number one will appear in the upper right corner of the artwork for The B&B Podcast.
A Now Playing popover will appear above the bottom of the podcast listing when an episode is playing. The podcast artwork will be surrounded by a glowing background while the title of episode scrolls across the top. Pressing the podcast artwork will bring another popover to the right where the options for the speed of playback, scrubbing, and an option to view the current episode show notes is displayed.
I really like this option because I might be perusing other show notes while listening to one show and hear something that is linked in the show notes that I want to check out. The currently playing podcast show notes are never more than two taps away.
The show notes is the third area of the app, taking up most of the screen real estate. Bringing a new episode to the front will pull in the show notes from the right side of the screen. Swiping left or right navigates through the different episodes show notes.
Most show notes will include links to the items discussed during the podcast. Instacast HD supports browsing the links within the show notes area by sliding in the website from the right edge once a link is pressed.
Across the top of the show notes there are several options including ones to mark an episode played or unplayed, star an episode, and to download or clear the cache of this episode. Two great features reside under the action button on the show notes, the link to the iTunes page and also the Read Later option.
Sending show notes to Instapaper is a regular occurrence for me. Also having a link to the podcast in iTunes is really helpful if you want to rate an episode on iTunes.
Rating your podcast on iTunes is still the best way for a podcast to get noticed by other people.
My one complaint is that the play button above the show notes confuses me at times. I understand the button is needed, and the language next to the button will change depending on whether the episode is downloaded or if you are about to stream an episode. My question is why it does not turn into a pause button when an episode is being played?
I have reached out to the developer and he said the button specifically relates to the show notes and will re-start streaming if the stream gets stuck. He did understand my question though and said he might change it in the future to be less confusing.
Since the iPad has a much bigger screen Instacast HD seems like the perfect place to engage video podcasts. Vemedio thought about the process of video podcasts and what the user may find enjoyable and useful, thus the experience of a video podcast is as seamless and useful as possible.
The controls are positioned in a way so that the fingerprints from pressing the controls will not be in the actual video frame.
All the useful controls are already placed in direct view as well. Including the brightness control which is really useful for the changing light conditions, which you might experience while watching a video podcast. Having the brightness control within the app means you will not have to put your video on hold to adjust the brightness from within the multitasking bar.
Instacast HD also supports background video, which means if you want to just listen to the video podcast just press the two arrows facing each other in the upper left corner. This causes the audio feed of your video podcast to remain playing while you browse the show notes or other podcast.
Instacast HD has revolutionized podcast management on the iPad. The app brings all of the necessary features of a podcast app into one beautiful application. The app is not just an upgrade from Instacast for iPhone but has been completely redesigned for the iPad and manages to make podcasts truly enjoyable again!