Instacast for iOS has been my favorite podcatcher since its initial release a couple years ago, and today Instacast for Mac has hit the public beta stage. I’ve been testing the Alpha version over the last month, and I’ve used it every day since. While it wouldn’t be fair to “review” the app —being a beta and all— I wanted to cover the basics.
I have zero complaints about the interface. The Vemedio team once again worked with Marcelo Marfil to create a wonderful UI that is easy to understand, and looks beautiful. The interface has many of the same components as the iOS counterparts, but restructured nicely for the Mac. You have two main views; Subscriptions and Lists. Like on iOS, Subscriptions show your full list, while Lists are the equivalent of Playlists on the iPhone and iPad —showing your default and custom lists.
The artwork is nice and crisp, show notes are intact, and refreshing your feeds is relatively fast. Another nice touch if you don’t want the full app window in your way, is an optional iTunes-esque mini player. This has been welcome for me since I’m on a MacBook Air with limited screen space.
There is a robust preference pane with everything you would expect. Granular settings for sharing, storage, playback and sync are all available for you to tweak. In my experience everything works as it should. Except one crucial thing…
Trying to keep in mind that this is beta software, I’ll talk a bit about sync without hammering it too badly. I can’t say it doesn’t work, because it does. But it’s certainly not where it needs to be. Martin and his team have made huge strides since the first implementation of sync in an early alpha, but it’s not super reliable at this point. The Mac version doesn’t seem to pull down played/unplayed episodes very well. It also seems to botch play position at times. That said, I will say that these glitches haven’t mucked up the settings or play positions on my iPhone. Not once. I’m not sure if that’s some magic on Vemedio’s part, but it’s a good thing. Since I primarily use my iPhone, it’s nice to not have those settings screwed with. There have been a few times that sync has worked flawlessly on both ends, but not consistently. Again, be warned that this is beta software and you should not take that lightly.
Overall, Instacast for Mac —even in beta— is pretty spectacular. It’s clearly the best podcatcher for Mac even in this extremely early stage. I highly recommend trying it out, especially since you can use it by itself if you don’t use or don’t want to use its siblings on iOS. You can download the app here.