Friday, 8 June 2012

TechFill - Pocket Cast for IOS

I mentioned this IOS app a few posts ago (the iphone 4S update I think). I'ved used the music player on the iphone 4 since launch and before that on ipad and various Ipod Touch devices.

As a consumer of podcasts I get through three or four a day and subscribe to around 25 to 40 on a regular or semi regular basis. So I'm chewing through dozens of hours of chat a week. Naively I've stuck to the native music player partly through not being aware there were good alternatives out there.

Pocket Cast (£1.49 on the app store) had been a bit of a mini revelation.

The user interface is great and intuitive. The homepage shows a grid of your subscriptions (for some reason the app seems better a capturing podcast artwork than the native player) with graphical overview of downloaded/undownloaded 'casts along with a note of played versus unplayed items. Tapping into the grid items takes you into overshow notes and more information on the individual shows. All very clear and well laid out.

There are menu tabs along the bottom of the screen for the main page, currently playing, search and settings - pretty standard but the icons and layout are very intuitive.

The search function is also good - picking up most of what any seasoned listener could want. There seems a bit of a bias towards podcasting networks that could leave the independent casters at the bottom of a search but I suppose this is simply a function of popularity and with more specific searches as you learn the interface you can find pretty much whatever you want to listen to.

The two main things I now have that were previously lacking are :

1) No need to sync with Itunes to update - I now manage all 'casts off my main device (the 4S) and importantly new 'casts are pushed straight to me now. This was a major issue with podcast management previously as either a manual check on itunes on the phone was required to check for new shows or a sync with itunes.
2) I'm a big user of the double click on the home button to access camera and the music player. Not sure if others have noticed this but the UI for the player when using this shortcut is a bit fiddly - the play and forward/reverse triangles are placed quite close together at the top of the screen below the time on the iphone - when rushing to start or stop a 'cast I regularly hit the forward or reverse button instead of the 'play' triangle. In native player this can be a pain in the arse. Hitting rewind takes you back to the start of a podcast automatically - 37 minutes in to a 90 minute show this is really irking. It's hard to find your place again especially if the 'cast if three or four people talking about one subject. The good news is that hitting the reverse when using Pocket Cast just swipes you back 30 seconds - that I can put up with.

On the downside, there's lots of info in a small space on the 4S so until you're used to the interface it can be a little confusing (but that's the same with any new or replacement app) and occasionally when double clicking the home button to resume playing the device picks up the last item played on the music player rather than Pocket Cast - this is despite the player not having been used in anger for some time - a minor point but a bit annoying.

Great little app, totally fits my use case and I have now deleted podcasts from itunes and as a result am syncing the phone (an annoying experience at the best of times) about once a week rather than daily.

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