Instacast for Mac Is the Best Desktop Podcatcher
Instacast has been my goto iOS podcast app for quite some time now. While I’ve enjoyed using Pocketcasts on Android, there is no app on iOS that comes close to Instacast, or at least none that look as nice and have the features I want in a podcatcher. Instacast for Mac, that was released recently, brings everything I love about the iOS app to the Mac with a boatload of new stuff that makes it even more awesome.
Early last month, Vemedio released a public beta of Instacast for Mac. Vemedio subscribers had access to the alpha since April and I couldn’t wait to get the Mac app. One thing that has taken Vemedio a long time is sync. When a faltering iCloud sync made them decide to develop their own solution, Instacast 3 for iOS still didn’t have a perfect sync until a few updates in. My main concern with the Mac app was sync and I’m beyond happy to see it work flawlessly. Having another great app I use often sync across iOS and Mac is great.
If you’ve used Instacast for iOS, you will feel right at home with the Mac interface. It improves upon the interface in the places that matter the most. In the Subscriptions view, your podcasts are organized in the left pane with episodes to the right and the show notes for a particular episode to the right of the episodes list. Podcasts can be arranged by a number of ways including most recent, title and recently played among others. The Lists view is what I love the most. From the get go, there are lists for your unplayed episodes, downloaded episodes and favourites or starred episodes. I use the Unplayed list the most to catch up on what I missed. Instacast also allows you to create smart lists like a list of episodes partially downloaded.
The main player controls are visible on top at all times and you can view chapters within episodes and control AirPlay from the same panel at all times. I love the new iTunes mini player and Instacast has an amazing mini player implementation. I have it set to show the mini player on top of every other app on my Mac so I can always see what’s going on and control stuff easily. The mini player displays basic episode information with artwork but when you move your mouse pointer on top of it, you have all the controls visible on top from the main player. Switching to the mini player is just a keyboard shortcut away. Moving from iOS to the Mac means implementing stuff like keyboard shortcuts and Instacast for Mac has an abundance of them. If you’re lazy like me to actually sift through menus to see all of them, you can use this nifty free mac utility called CheatSheet. You can control everything from playback to toggling the mini player with keyboard shortcuts. The app also uses the Apple keyboard media keys, which is a nice touch.
If you use Instacast 3 on iOS, you can log in to your Instacast Cloud account from the preferences. Importing OPML files is easy as well. Instacast has accumulated quite a massive podcast directory over the years. You can subscribe to a podcast by tapping the add symbol on the bottom left and going through the directory. The directory has featured audio and video podcasts and you can even narrow your search down by language. iTunes is great for most people but there are tons of region restrictions and Instacast even allows importing iTunes podcasts links that would normally be unavailable in your region into your subscriptions.
Sync happens almost instantly and so far it has been rock solid for me across 3 iOS devices and one Mac. I’ve been pretty vocal about my disappointment with Instacast Sync for a while but Vemedio seems to have fixed everything because as of now It Just Works™. Overall Instacast for Mac is a polished and modern Mac app that reminded me a lot of Pocket. It works brilliantly and if you use iOS devices for podcasts and want to bring that to the Mac as well, there is no better suite of apps. Instacast for Mac is available directly from Vemedio here for $19.99. You can try the app for free as well. Instacast for iOS is available on the App Store for $4.99. If you enjoy podcasts, getting Instacast for Mac and iOS will set you back by less than $25 and having elegant looking brilliantly working podcast apps on your Mac, iPhone and iPad is a steal at that price.