I was trying to find a snazzy title for this particular entry, but came up empty-handed. Ah well, better luck next time. One of the many things I've been tinkering with recently on my iPhone are podcasts. The music app on the iDevices do support podcasts, but it doesn't give me enough control. I'm getting ahead of myself here. First, what is a podcast? Well essentially, it's an on-demand audio file which you can listen to at your convenience. Hence, the on-demand bit. CBC for example, have many of their radio shows in podcast format. You can find them here:
CNIB even has its own podcast. You can find it here interspersed between the blog entries.
How to listen to podcasts:
The easiest way would be to go to the web pages where the podcasts are located and, either listen with the provided web player, or download it to your computer and listen to it with your favourite audio player. You can even set it up under iTunes, but I want to show you the app that I've been playing with. Isn't there a grammar rule that you can't end a sentence with the word with? I'll have to ask.
Albeit an excellent play on words, Downcast is a paid app for the iDevices which lets you control your podcast listening. It is divided into 5 pages, more commonly known as tabs. Let's go through them.
The Podcast tab: This is where all of your podcasts that you've subscribed to are listed.
PlayList Tab: This is where you can create a playlist of your favourite podcasts.
Add Podcast tab: As the name states, this is where you can add podcasts; either manually or by searching for it.
The downloads tab: This is where you can monitor the downloading of podcast episodes.
More tab: This is where they stick information about the app, the settings icon, statistcs about how much room your podcasts are taking and various other things they couldn't find room for elsewhere.
Downloading your first podcast:
This is done in a few easy steps:
- Select the Add Podcasts tab.
- Double tap on the Search For Podcasts. You could also manually type in the address, but this is much easier.
- For the sake of this exercise and a bit of shameless advertising, type in "CNIB", without the quotes inside the search edit field and commence the search.
- One of the results found should be our Visioncast. Double tap on the result and you'll get the info screen which enables you to subscribe to this feed.
- Double tap on the "subscribe" button. You'll hear a success tone and VoiceOver telling you that you are now subscribed. The most recent episode will start downloading automatically. You can see the download progress within the Download tab. The app will also alert you when the download is done by a tone. Double tap on the "Back" button, as we are done here.
Listening to the Podcast:
Now that we have something to work with, we can visit the Podcast Tab and see our handy work. You should see VisionCast listed as a podcast feed. Double tap on it and you'll find the most recent episode. Double tap once more on the button starting with the word, Downloaded. The podcast will start playing. You will have many play controls which are self-explanatory. There is even a speed control which comes in handy. Once you're done listening, double tap on the "back" button which brings you back to the episodes list. There's a handy button called "View Other episodes", which will let you browse through all available podcast episodes. You can either download them individually, or just download the whole series. Just remember that these things quickly eat up space on your device. You can have Downcast delete episodes once you're done listening to them. This option can be enabled within the settings area. Alternatively, you can click on the "edit" button within the Visioncast screen and delete the episodes individually.
Well, there you have it; a crash course on listening to podcasts on your iDevice. I've merely scratched the surface on the bells and whistles found within Downcast. I'd suggest spending some time tinkering, as it's a very neat app.
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