In some ways, Instacast doomed itself. One of the first podcast clients on the iPhone, the pioneering player helped propel the medium from its humble roots into a global phenomenon spanning the gamut of genres and subjects. But with the podcast app's popularity came a catchalong with a hoard of new users, a slew of competing players popped up too, all vying to chip away at Instacast's sizable audience. Over the course of its lengthy version history, it from paid to free with in-app-purchases and even offered two levels of subscription memberships, but modern clients kept the pressure on until the company announced earlier this week that it had run out of money and was shutting down for good.
Consequently, Instacast leaves loads of good options in its wake. Like Twitter clients or weather apps, podcatchers all pretty much do the same thing organize and play your favorite shows so the user experience sets the tone. Instacast 5 was no slouch in that department, with a gorgeous, intuitive interface, offline playback, full-text search, and dynamic playlists, but even if you've been a fan since version 1, there are plenty of worthy replacements in the App Store. Here are five of the best:
Overcast(free, with $5 in-app purchase) was built for the best possible reason: Its developer, Instapaper creator Marco Arment, couldn't find a client that fit his specific needs. Impeccably crafted and thoughtfully designed, Overcast's interface makes searching and listening to podcasts an absolute pleasure. It's not just the easy navigation and big, bold controls; Overcast has an attention to detail unlike any other podcast app.
Poke around the settings and you'll find handy toggles for cellular syncing, seek acceleration, and rotation lock, as well as customizable forward and rewind buttons and advanced remote controls. Playing podcasts is smooth and seamless, with two awesome unlockable features: Smart Speed, which hastens the duration of podcasts not by speeding up the speech but by eliminating the spaces between words, and Voice Boost, which dynamically raises and lowers the volume of speech to homogenize the listening experience.
Additionally a free web component lets you pick up your listening on your Mac, and you can even import whatever subscriptions you have sitting in Instacast, but there is one major caveat: You can't stream. Podcasts have to be downloaded before they can be played, so you'll want to remember to stock up before you head out on the road. Also, there's no support for chapters, a longstanding feature in Instacast.
Martin Hering, founder of Instacast's parent company Vemedio, suggested Instacast's users navigate over to Pocket Casts ($4) since it "looks better (than Overcast) and has chapters," and it's hard to argue with his recommendation.
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