Take Your Favorite Podcasts on the Road: Downcast for iOS

In this approximately 30-minute show, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate searching for, subscribing to and playing podcasts using the Downcast app for iOS.

Downcast allows anyone with an iOS device to independently enjoy podcasts without having to connect to a computer and use iTunes to subscribe and synchronize the content.

All instructions assume VoiceOver is running on the iOS device.

Searching for Podcasts by Category

Follow these steps to browse and review podcasts by category. We use This Week in Tech as an example of a good technology show to consider adding.

  1. Make sure the Downcast app is open.
  2. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  3. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  4. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  5. Right flick to and double tap the Technology category.
  6. Right flick to and double tap This Week in Tech – MP3 Edition.
  7. Right flick to and double tap View Podcast Feed. Note the Subscribe button and other information available as you right flick across this screen.
  8. Right flick across the list of available podcast episodes and double tap one to start listening.
  9. Double tap with two fingers to pause playback.

Search for Podcasts Using Keywords

Follow these steps to search for podcasts by keyword. We like books, so that’s our keyword search example.

  1. If you were playing a podcast, double tap the Back button three times or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture three times to return to the Add Podcasts screen.
  2. Right flick to and double tap Search for Podcasts.
  3. Type books into the search field.
  4. Double tap the Search button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  6. Right flick to and double tap the Books on the Nightstand podcast in the list of search results.
  7. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add this podcast to your favorites.
  8. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

When the podcast you want is not in Downcast’s directory, there are three ways to bring it into the app. We did not cover these advanced topics on the audio portion of our show.

Adding Podcasts from a Link on a Website

If a website has a link to an RSS feed for a podcast, you can browse to it using Safari on your iOS device and easily add it to Downcast by following these instructions. The podcast page on the GW Micro website serves as our example.

  1. Open Safari on your iOS device.
  2. Visit http://gwmicro.com/podcast
  3. Right flick to and double tap and hold on the link to the GW Micro – GW Insider Podcast Feed (XML).
  4. Right flick to and double tap the Copy button. This makes the link available to other apps such as Downcast.
  5. Open Downcast.
  6. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  7. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  8. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  9. Right flick to and double tap Add Podcast Manually.
  10. Right flick to and double tap the text edit field after the Feed or OPML Address heading.
  11. Select “Edit” using the rotor VoiceOver gesture.
  12. Flick down and double tap Paste. The URL copied from Safari now appears in the text edit field.
  13. If needed, enter the username and password under the Login Information, If Required heading. This will rarely be used. It is not needed for GW Micro podcasts.
  14. Find and double tap the Done button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  15. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  16. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add the podcast.
  17. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

Manually Adding Podcasts

Follow these steps when you know the URL of the RSS feed for the podcast you wish to add.

  1. If a Back button can be found near the upper left corner of the screen, double tap it as many times as necessary or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture as many times as necessary to return to the app’s main screen. This will typically be Podcasts, Playlists, Add Podcasts or Downloads.
  2. Touch the bottom left corner of the screen to locate the Podcasts tab.
  3. Right flick twice and double tap the Add Podcasts tab.
  4. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  5. Right flick to and double tap Add Podcast Manually.
  6. Right flick to and double tap the text edit field after the Feed or OPML Address heading.
  7. Enter the URL of the RSS feed exactly as it was given to you. Leave off the “http://” at the beginning.
  8. If needed, enter the username and password under the Login Information, If Required heading. This will rarely be used.
  9. Find and double tap the Done button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  10. Tap the top of the screen once with four fingers to move to the upper left corner.
  11. Right flick to and double tap the Subscribe button to add the podcast.
  12. Double tap the Back button twice or use the two-finger right-to-left scrub gesture twice to return to the Add Podcasts screen.

Adding Podcasts from an OPML File

Downcast can use OPML files to backup and restore the list of subscribed podcasts. This technique also allows users to bring in lists of podcasts from other apps and to share favorite podcasts.

Follow these steps to import a list of podcasts from an email.

  1. Open the Mail app on your iOS device.
  2. Open the email containing the OPML file attachment.
  3. Right flick through the message until you reach the name of the file. This may be something like podcasts.opml.
  4. Double tap the file’s name to open the attachment.
  5. Right flick to and double tap the Action button.
  6. Double tap Open in Downcast. The app will start dinging as it downloads the new podcasts.
  7. Double tap the Podcasts tab in the lower left corner of the screen to see the revised list of subscribed podcasts including those just added from the OPML file. Beware: Downcast imports everything found in the file without checking for duplicate entries.

Playing Podcasts

Now that you have subscribed to several podcasts, you’re probably anxious to start listening to them. Follow these instructions to get started.

  1. Double tap the Podcasts tab in the lower left corner of the screen.
  2. Right flick across the list of subscribed podcasts until you reach the show you would like to hear.
  3. Double tap the podcast to bring up the list of episodes.
  4. Right flick to and double tap an episode to start playing the audio. Each episode has two entries in the list. The first allows you to download or stream the audio and the second provides details. Double tap download or stream links to play podcast episodes.
    • The two-finger double tap gesture plays and pauses audio.
    • The Play button is found in the middle of the bottom third of the screen. It changes to a Pause button while audio is playing.
    • The Reverse button is located to the left of the Play button. Double tap it to move to the previous episode. Double tap and hold it to rewind in the currently playing episode.
    • The Forward button is located to the right of the Play button. Double tap it to move to the next episode. Double tap and hold it to fast forward within the currently playing episode.

There are many more features available in the podcast playback screen. For instance, we demonstrated the ability to increase playback speed in the audio portion of our show. We urge you to listen to the entire demo, get the app for yourself, explore and start enjoying podcast listening on your iOS device.

Additional Resources

Please feel free to give us your feedback in the comments. What do you like? How could we make the show better? What topics would you like us to cover on future shows?

If you use Twitter, let’s get connected! Please follow Allison (AlliTalk) and Darrell.