I'm pretty sure I've been an avid podcast listener since Apple first integrated it into iTunes and the iPod. Many would likely agree Apple kicked podcasts into mainstream use.
After the debut of the iPhone and then the App Store, third party podcast apps started to appear for movie listening, but I stuck with Apple's iTunes and the iPhone's iPod app, since I was syncing all the time anyway, because untethered sync still wasn't around for the iPhone. And I kept on this way until Apple released its Podcasts app partway through iOS 5's life cycle.
And boy did that app suck.
Podcasts was gorgeous at its debut, sure. I loved the reel-to-reel animation, superfluous as it was. But actually using the app was downright awful. So that left me with a decision to make between the two biggest names I had heard about. Instacast and Downcast. Both were iOS only at the time, but I didn't mind because I was doing most of my listening on my iPhone, anyway.
I chose Downcast. It didn't take long using Downcast and seeing how easily it synced over iCloud with my iPad to realize it was the app that Podcasts should have been.
Apple’s Podcasts app is slow, buggy, and lacks the typical polish and refinement we’ve all come to expect. This app does not feel like something Apple made. It doesn’t even use iCloud to sync the subscription list between your iPhone and iPad, instead making you go through the subscription process twice.
So here’s what you should do. Buy Downcast. It is every bit the caliber you would expect Apple to make, but Apple didn’t make it.
The only role Downcast didn't fulfill was being able to listen from my Mac. At first this didn't really bother me until I started being in front of my desk more and more. Sure, I've fired up my podcasts on my iPad and kept it playing on my desk, and that's fine and all. But I had been wanting podcast listening on my Mac again.
Today, my want is fulfilled. Downcast for Mac is now available on the Mac App Store. As soon as I installed and launched it, I simply clicked a little cloud icon, and checked four boxes. Immediately, my settings, episode list, podcast subscriptions, & playlists all came in via iCloud.
Aside: Downcast is one of the few apps using iCloud that really seems to just work without hassle. Many others I have don't work entirely well and I use Dropbox instead.
Downcast's interface is plain and simple in a refreshing way. It's very focused. You select your podcast and play. I do think it needs some refreshing over time. For instance, there are three different refresh buttons in the main window. One that refreshes all feeds, one to refresh a specific feed list, and another that seems to refresh everything in iCloud.
Aside from an abundance of things to refresh, Downcast for Mac is a faithful interpretation of what Downcast is in a Mac app. Downcast for Mac is available on the Mac App Store at an introductory price of $9.99.