Instacast: The ultimate podcast manager for iPhone?

If you're tired of the limitations imposed by the built-in podcast "manager," you'll love the versatility of this $2 app.

Instacast doesn't have the world's best interface, but it's a pretty awesome podcast manager all the same.
Instacast doesn't have the world's best interface, but it's a pretty awesome podcast manager all the same. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I love podcasts. When I'm in the car, I like nothing better than to queue up shows like "This American Life," "Wiretap," and "A Prairie Home Companion," to name just a few.

Of course, if I forget to sync my iPhone for a few days, I won't have the latest episodes on tap. The podcast manager (if you can call it that) that's built into iOS doesn't support streaming, and I can download new shows only over Wi-Fi.

Enter Instacast, a podcast manager that not only overcomes these shortcomings, but also makes it easy to find other podcasts I might like.

It accomplishes this latter feat by way of the Add screen, which is divided into Popular, Just Added, and Genres sections. There's also a search option, and a handy iPod button for subscribing to podcasts that are already on your device. (Alas, you have to add them individually; it would be nice if you could subscribe to all with one quick tap.)

From there the interface gets a little confusing, though with a little poking around (make that tapping around), you should have no trouble figuring it out. The app can either stream or download (i.e., "cache") your podcasts, and you don't need to be on a Wi-Fi network for either one: it works over EDGE and 3G as well.

Instacast can also automatically cache the newest episodes, and of course it will automatically resume episodes where you left off--even if you streamed them. I especially like the integrated Web browser, which gives you the option of viewing each episode's show notes.

If you're a diehard podcast fan, then Instacast is well worth $1.99. That said, depending on what you like to listen to, you might be better off with different apps. For example, when it comes to "This American Life," it's hard to beat that show's eponymous app . And the awesome NPR News app streams all NPR shows on demand.

Have you found a podcast manager you like better? If so, crow about it in the comments!

 

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