App Review: Downcast

Posted by K.C. with 11 Comments

Do you listen to podcasts?

I became a big fan recently, but I find the podcast functionality within iTunes to be a bit clunky. I don’t like having to plug my iPhone in to get updated episodes and trying to download new episodes directly to the iPhone is frustrating at best.

Enter Downcast

I first heard about Downcast after discovering that blogging icon Michael Hyatt had started a new podcast. I’ve subscribed to Michael’s blog on intentional leadership and publishing for 2 years and he always recommends quality books and products so I gave Downcast a spin.

What I liked:

  • App icon. That might be an odd thing to comment on, but I don’t think I’ve ever read any app reviews that mentioned the design of the app icon. Downcast is simple and clean with a bold splash of color.
  • Easily add podcasts. You can search for podcasts or browse popular categories. Simply tap “subscribe” and you’re all set. Downcast automatically downloads the latest episode.
  • Queue. New episodes are queued up to download and you can limit downloads to only when wifi is available. Episodes can also be synced to iCloud.
  • Sharing. If you find a particular episode compelling you can share it to Twitter, Facebook, Evernote or email. I listen to TED Talks and this happens often.
  • Universal. I actually didn’t know until I wrote this post that Downcast was a universal app. Basically you get to enjoy all the great features on both the iPhone & iPad with one purchase.

What I did not like:

… well… I… uh…

Okay, I know objective reviews usually find something negative to say so that the content is fair and balanced, but I couldn’t find anything to complain about.

Maybe the price? However, at $1.99 for all the features it was worth it so that’s not a legitimate issue.

What are your favorite podcasts? Do you use a podcatching app?

K.C.

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My name is KC and I LOVE being a husband & dad. I am a Mac fanboy, tentblogger, MBA grad, cubicle dweller and frequent abuser of Twitter & Facebook.

11 responses to App Review: Downcast

  1. David Sanderson April 8, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Yeah, it is great. Vaguely depressing name though. Feeling a bit downcast about it.

  2. Downcast is amazing. The capabilities to organize playlists, sort and prioritize episodes make it fit everyone’s listening needs. I use it everyday for 50 podcasts across an iPhone and iPad. I have playlist based on dates, duration and priorities. I also have playlists for categories (science, comedy, tv shows, philosophy). Downcast is flexibile enough that you can assign playlist membership from the playlist or the podcast itself. It also tells you which podcast are not assigned to any playlist so you don’t miss them. Definitely, worth it. Note: I also love the icon. It is so easy to pick out.

  3. Yes, Downcast is great but it is SO slow. The app is really really not fluid. Ok i havé à lot of podcast subscription but it dies not repond Well. I run it on an iPhone 4S and an iPad 2. SO i dont know. Instacast seems more responsive.

    • I’m curious where you’re experiencing the slow factor? Granted I don’t have a lot of subscriptions, but it’s worked well for me.

      I’ve heard about Instacast as well. May check it out for a comparison post in the future.

      • Apart from the fact that the Downcast UI is not at all responsive, it is really, really slow to update.

        I did a test once with Instacast, iCatcher! and Downcast. Downcast takes over five times as long to update its subscriptions as the other two. Downloads are slower, too.

        As far as I can tell, Downcast is very naively programmed. It always checks every episode in a feed, instead of stopping as soon as it reaches episodes it’s already seen, and doesn’t understand things like E-Tags or Last-Updated headers.

        For all its features, Downcast’s performance is awful. I’ve talked to the dev about it, but he doesn’t seem at all interested in trying to improve that aspect. And that’s sad because Downcast is otherwise wonderful.

  4. I have 50 subscriptions and my Downcast is very slow to update. It’s slow going through each subscription to check. I don’t download subscriptions automatically, either; they just get marked to stream. Instacast is much faster at updating. I agree the icon is brilliant, very easy to see in a folder.

  5. Like Tina and Horkken, I am frustrated by interface sluggishness with Downcast. When I click on a playlist, I can count to 5 before the screen changes. I also find it slow to update my subscriptions. The “preparing” screen takes forever when you click play, even with downloaded podcasts. That said, Downcast is still the best iOS podcatcher by far (I have all the heavy hitters). The smart playlist options alone are worth the price. I’m hanging with it, hoping the developer tightens thing up.

  6. Jorge Silvestrini June 29, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I just got Downcast and I’m starting to get all my podcast on it now. Quick question: what’s the difference between streaming and downloading? That I won’t have the podcast physically on my iPhone?

    • Hey Jorge! Yes, if you stream it then the podcast episode isn’t downloaded to your phone. I would suggest making sure that you sync/update podcasts when you’re near wifi as they can drain your data plan (especially if you subscribe to video podcasts like TED).

      I hope you like Downcast. I use it every day.

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