A comparison of the iCatcher! and Downcast podcast players
The ITunes podcast player allows users to skip back 10 seconds or go forward at twice normal speed. That is all and it is not enough. The iTunes player is now badly out of date. I wanted an alternative that allowed me to skip over boring bits of podcasts.
I tried two other podcast apps. iCatcher! and Downcast can be downloaded from the Apple App Store via iTunes and both are much better than iTunes for playing podcasts. Here is a comparison of their features.
Importing your podcasts from another player – both players allow you to import an OPML file [list of podcasts] from iTunes or some other player. It is easy to do. Both iCatcher! and Downcast support other methods. For example, I exported my OPML file from iTunes and imported it to Downcast by mailing it to myself as an attachment. That was also easy.
Skipping forwards and backwards – this is the killer feature for me and both iCatcher! and Downcast are so much better than iTunes. With iCatcher! you can go backwards or forwards by 30 seconds [on Downcast you can set the skip interval] or go forward at up to 10 times normal speed. I think the skipping options on Downcast are better.
Use of gestures – both are good with all the gestures I am likely to remember to use.
Ease of use – iCatcher! has a lot more options but this makes it too complex to use easily. It is too easy to create conflicting settings and it can then be hard to work out what is conflicting with what. Downcast is much better. It has a good set of features but has avoided over complexity. I found iCatcher very frustrating to use. Downcast has been much easier.
Help – neither are bad but both could do better.
Stability – Downcast has been very stable on my old iPod Touch and iPad 2.
Updating your podcasts – both allow you to update your podcasts without needing to connect to iTunes. You can also search for new podcasts.
Some podcasts make money from advertising revenue. Does skipping advertisements threaten the economic model of these podcasters. Yes, it does. With iCatcher! you can trace a L on the touch screen to invoke the Leo function and go forward by two minutes. The Leo function is named for Leo Laporte who has very long advertisements embedded in his podcasts.
After trying both players I have decided to go with Downcast. It is clearly better, at least for me. iCatcher! is annoyingly over featured. It misbehaved several times and I could not work out whether I was dealing with a bug or conflicting options.
I would rank the usability of the three apps as follows
First – Downcast
Second – Apple’s player
Third – iCatcher
ps Apple have just released a new podcasting app. It is little better than the old Apple app and clearly not as good as Downcast. I would not change the ranking above.