HeyCast: Put YouTube on your iPod
Take YouTube videos and put them on your iPod...or at least try.
HeyCast is a new service from the folks that made HeyWatch [review], the online video conversion service. It lets you grab videos from popular hosting sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and Apple's Quicktime movie trailers site, and clump them together into a handy RSS feed you or anyone else can subscribe to in iTunes or other feed readers. The feed isn't just your standard RSS though--HeyCast grabs the Flash videos, converts them, and makes them available for offline viewing on your computer or portable devices.
I gave it a go this morning and came across a few hiccups. My main qualm is that HeyCast seems designed to be incredibly restrictive to novice users who want to use it for free. Since the service grabs these Web videos and converts them into iPod-friendly MP4 video files, it requires users to purchase encoding credits from sister-product HeyWatch. Users also need a place to host the files, which requires them to have their own FTP server or an account with Amazon.com's S3 Web storage service. If you don't have access to either of these, you're limited to just five videos that get capped off at one minute each.
I love the idea of letting people make their own podcast feeds using various Web video content, although HeyCast makes it a little harder than it should be. On a publishing level, simpler solutions can be had setting up something short and sweet with Tumblr, or creating a full-fledged blog with services such as Blogger or WordPress.com. For full-fledged media aggregation and distribution like what HeyCast is attempting to offer, simple solutions don't seem readily available--yet.