Review: Instacast HD for iPad

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Instacast HD for iPad

Instacast HD is the iPad version of the popular podcast client that was first available as an iPhone app. The iPhone version, Instacast, has been around since March of this year – the iPad app was released in late November.

iTunes on iOS has always handled podcasts, but only in a very basic way – with very few features to help you discover or enjoy podcasts. So there’s always been a need for really good podcast client apps on iOS.

I’ve been using Instacast since its release back in March and have been a big fan of the app ever since. Of course when I saw there was a new iPad app version I had high hopes for it and installed it right away. The short story on Instacast HD is if you enjoy podcasts and own an iPad you need to go get this app right away. For lots of good reasons why that is so, hit the break …

Notes

To say that Instacast HD is an extremely powerful and feature-rich podcast client would be a huge understatement. Here are its main features:

+ Manage podcast subscriptions
+ All Episodes inbox for unseen episodes
+ Filter for starred and downloaded episodes
+ Stream or preload over EDGE, 3G or WiFi and in background
+ Auto-refresh subscriptions
+ Auto-download newest episodes
+ Download waiting list when only on 3G
+ Continuous playback of multiple episodes
+ Play audio podcasts in background
+ Volume/Speed/AirPlay control
+ Support for chapters and chapter links
+ Continue where you left off
+ Support for OPML file format and Dropbox
+ Supports headphone, lock screen and task bar remote controls
+ Integrated web browser to follow show notes
+ Integrated podcast directory with over 30000 podcasts and episode previews
+ Import podcast subscriptions from episodes stored in your Music library
+ Support for sharing links via email and Twitter
+ Support sending show notes and websites to Instapaper, Readability and Read-It-Later
+ Support for pcast:// and itpc:// url scheme
+ Subscribe podcasts using a URL
+ Support for HTTP authentication of premium/payed podcasts

The app works on the iPad 2 and the original iPad. It requires iOS 5.

Highlights

— Instacast HD makes finding and subscribing to podcasts easy. You can browse through the Popular section and choose from hundreds of shows that are atop the podcast charts. Or browse through just video podcasts, or just enhanced podcasts, or look by genre (Arts, Business, Comedy, Games & Hobbies, Kids & Family, Music, Technology and tons more), check out the Just Added section, or just search for a show you’re keen on.

— Video Podcasts and AirPlay Support: Of course video podcasts are much better on the iPad’s big screen. The app’s video player lets you adjust brightness easily with just a couple taps. It has AirPlay support so you can enjoy them on an even bigger HDTV screen.

Instacast HD for iPad 

— On both video and audio podcasts you get a very good screen of show details.

ShowDetails

— Downloads are managed very well. Once you subscribe to a podcast the app downloads its recent episodes and caches them for offline listening / viewing. They happen in the background too – so you can do other things in the app or even in other apps while they’re in progress. You even get push notifications when new episodes are published on the shows you subscribe to.

— iCloud sync: Instacast keeps all your subscription details (and more) automatically synced between iPad and iPhone. It’s great when you leave off in an episode on one device, open it up later on the other, and it picks up at the exact point you left off.

— Audio podcasts continue in the background when you switch away from the app. Video podcasts don’t but the app remembers right where you left off in them – sometimes they start playing again automatically when you switch back to Instacast HD, sometimes they pause and you just tap play to get going again.

— Show Notes: The developers describe these as ‘the heart of the app’ and they’re certainly a stellar feature. These are presented in a Wikipedia type page. The content in them will vary according to what’s provided by each podcast – but can include items like Topics Lists for that episode, details on hosts and guests, links that can be followed within the app for further information on topics covered, and even partial transcripts of shows.

Lowlights

— It’s probably just me but there are a few places where the app’s UI feels not quite as intuitive as I’d like. For instance, when I first started spending time in show notes for video podcasts I found it a little awkward to get back to the video.

Overall

Instacast HD is simply the best podcast client app for the iPad. It’s packed with great features, and it makes everything related to podcasts easy – from finding shows you like to downloading them quickly with zero effort on your part, to letting you know when new episodes are available and presenting tons of useful information while you’re listening to or watching a show.

If you want a podcasts app for your iPad, this is the one to get.

Here’s an App Store link for Instacast HD; it’s priced at $4.99.

Disclosure: This app was purchased independently by the post author. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page. 


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Instacast HD for iPad”

  1. I’ve been using Downcast. It has comparable features (including cloud support added last week). Best of all, it’s only $1.99 for a universal app.

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