I quite like Apple products. I’m very keen on Apple…
I’m an Apple fanatic. Hardware, software, accessories. You name it, I love it.
There’s just one fly in the ointment – in fact it’s a tarantula.
I absolutely detest iTunes.
I’ve tried and tried and tried to even like this software/service, but I just can’t do it. I can’t even barely tolerate it.
For long enough I thought that Microsoft must have smuggled someone into Apple’s iTunes department.
Then I blamed myself…surely it must be me…there’s some kind of genius in this I’m just not seeing. But no, I’ve had to admit, Apple has a weak spot, an achilles heel, a chink in their armor, a nightmare piece of software.
How can it be so difficult to sync data, photos, podcasts, and mp3s between my Macbook and my itouch/ipad/iphone? Why can’t I just add an mp3 file to iTunes and find it the next day? Why do backups of my calendar and contacts result in either multiple lost appointments or thousands of entries for my plumber? Why is there a nerve-shredding software update every three days? Why are the software updates so monstrously HYOOOOJE? Why does it take 4,356 steps to turn an mp3 lecture into an Audiobook file that I can then listen to at 1.5x or 2x speed? Why do you need fairies’ fingers to scrub back a few seconds to re-listen to the last sentence? Why does my heart sink every time I try to sync? And how many finger combinations do you need to delete just one file?
But….a few months ago, I read about iOS 5, iCloud, wireless syncing and everything automatically backed up to the cloud from every device, and I thought, “Thank you, Steve, what a priceless legacy.”
But what a mess! Seven weeks and multiple experiments later, I gave up.
Downcast, I discovered Downcast.
Now this $1.99 App is not a complete answer to the syncing idiosyncracies of iTunes, but it’s a huge step forward for syncing podcasts, lectures, sermons, etc.
- Quick iPhone installation with a tiny footprint
- Simple, oh-so-very-simple, podcast subscriptions
- Categorized podcast choices
- Automatic downloading and syncing
- Single tap for listen speeds of 1.25x, 1.5, 2x, and even 3x (good for American ears listening to Scottish preachers)
- Single tap scrub back 15 secs and 30 secs
- Single click social media sharing
- Easy access to previous podcast episodes
- No wires!
- No need to sync with iTunes!!!!
But what about those audio files of sermons and lectures that you come across from time to time on various blogs and websites? Downcast is working on a way to incorporate these into the App, but, until then, Huffduffer is a good workaround:
- Open free Huffduffer account
- Set up a podcast feed in Huffduffer
- Subscribe to your Huffduffer podcast feed in Downcast
Then, when you see an mp3 you want to listen to, add the link to your Huffduffer account or use Chrome/Safari bookmarklet. It’s relatively painless and, unlike iTunes, does not feel like self-torture.
And at last, I am regularly listening to some of the great audio podcasts out there. Two of my favorites so far are Freakonomics and This American Life. I’ve also enjoyed some episodes of The Entreleadership Podcast, and Thinking in Public. Any others you’d recommend?
Unless I’m missing something however, I don’t think Reformed Christians have yet mastered this media opportunity. Our “podcasts” tend to be either sermons or long-form, high-level discussions of theology/philosophy (e.g. Thinking in Public, White Horse Inn). There’s definitely a place for that, but there’s also got to be some way of utilizing the podcast format in a more effective and “popular” way.
Any ideas? What would be your ideal Christian podcast?