Downcast is an application that allows you to download podcasts directly to your iOS device without needing to sync with iTunes. It has achieved a high rating on Apple iTunes, with users giving the current version five out of five stars.
While there are numerous competitor apps – not least Apple’s own Podcast app – Downcast remains a favorite due to its effectiveness and user-friendly design. In contrast to many of its rivals, Downcast enables users to control the playback of podcasts using gestures.
The traditional graphic player controls are present but you can also double tap to pause the playback or recommence play; skip forward by swiping a fingertip from left to right; or skip back by swiping from right to left.
The first step is to download Downcast from the App Store. An advantage of Downcast is that you only need to buy it once, after which you can install it on multiple devices rather than having to pay for every instance of the app. (Always download apps from legitimate and reputable sources to avoid malware or other potentially unwanted software.) Follow the instructions onscreen to install the app on your iOS device.
The next step is to launch Downcast and begin subscribing to some podcasts. At the bottom of the app you’ll find a menu bar; click on the “Add Podcasts” icon. Downcast allows you to add podcasts manually; alternatively, the app can search for podcasts automatically. The search function enables you to find casts by entering relevant keywords. Once you select an episode of the show you want to listen to, you’ll be taken to a list of episodes in the same series. Select any of these to add them to your playlist.
Once you’ve subscribed to some podcasts, it’s easy to organize them into playlists from the Playlist menu.
Once you’ve subscribed to some podcasts, Downcast’s Settings option allows you to specify what you wish to do with new episodes. In the New Episodes Action menu, you can choose from a range of options:
The Episodes to Keep menu is also an important element of Downcast. This allows you to tell the app what to do with the episodes you’ve downloaded: keep them all; keep all the unplayed episodes; keep the most recent; or keep the last three, four or five episodes. The range of options gives you a lot of freedom and does away with the need to laboriously slog through your downloaded podcasts when you want to free up space.
There’s also a “Never” option which allows you to turn off automatic downloads all together. The app comes with a range of miscellaneous settings such as a volume adjustment slider; there are also on/off settings for continuous playback and sound effects. You can also opt to turn on the Downloads Badges setting so you’ll still receive badges even when using Downcast.
You can backup your subscribed podcasts list to a standard .opml file, allowing you to save or import your list in the future. A nice recent addition brings a location trigger to force Downcast to check for new podcasts when arriving at, or leaving a certain location.
I have mine set to automatically check for new podcasts when I arrive home, and as soon as I’m within range of my home WiFi anything new starts to download automatically. You can set Downcast to download over 3G if you have enough of an allowance on your plan – but be warned, video podcasts can be large files at 200MB/300MB or more each.
If you want to download more audio and video content to your iOS device, Downcast is the ideal app. It’s simple to use and makes organizing your podcasts significantly easier. Everything from downloading to playback is smooth and intuitive. Downcast is a well-balanced app.