Version Reviewed: 2.0.8
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Out of the box, Apple's iOS can acquire and play a vast array of content. However, there are some unusual quirks that continue to plague even current editions of iOS. Take podcasts, for instance. Sure, downloading podcasts is a breeze through the iOS iTunes store, but what about subscribing to a podcast? It's not possible. Instead, subscriptions must be managed through the desktop iTunes software, which then migrates current podcast content to an iOS device during sync. Clunky, isn't it? And, it's a far cry from the dream of using an iPad or iPhone without the need to ever tether it to a computer.
Fortunately, there are apps for that! One of the best dedicated podcast-catching clients around is Downcast. It's an amazingly robust and sophisticated piece of software that can help users locate, subscribe to, manage and consume all of the podcast content currently available online.
Consider Downcast the Podcasting client Apple forgot to include in iOS. It's feature-rich and includes gesture support, playlist creation, playback speed adjustments, online sharing via Twitter and Facebook, and the ability to import OPML files for those needing more personalization/tweaking of their podcast lists. In other words, it does pretty much anything anyone could want a podcast client to do - and even some that only a select group would ever use. It even streams podcasts in a way similar to Stitcher or Audiopress. Downcast manages downloads effortlessly, effectively and quickly, and the streaming option means that podcasts need not take up excessive amounts of space on your iPhone or iPad.
At the moment, there are only three negatives worth mentioning about downcast. The first is that video playback stutters sometimes. It didn't happen with every video podcast I played, but it happened during several of them, and I'm at a loss as to why. The second is more of a backhanded compliment than a complaint, but Downcast does so much it could be intimidating for those less experienced with podcast-catchers. The final negative is that, while Downcast is a universal app, there is no way to easily sync info between your iPad and iPhone. Perhaps a user account could make it easy to access playlists and subscriptions on either device quickly?
Minor complaints aside, Downcast is truly a wonderfully designed and implemented app that fulfills a needed gap in iOS. Anyone with more than a passing interest in podcasts should download it ASAP.