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September 17, 2020
Podcaster: So good, Apple won't let you have it

Back about a year ago, on the Apple iPhone one of the most useful iPhone applications that I used daily was an app called MobileCast (for the jailbroken iPhone 1.x version of the iPhone).

It allowed you to download and play audio podcasts (such as NPR's Hourly News Summary, updated 24x7) and listen on your iPhone. In fact I still have an iTouch running 1.1.4 for this app and the streaming Sirius satellite radio app "uSirius" for this reason.

So, fast forward a full year, and now we have Apple iPhone 2.1 just released, making a relatively solid release, with lots interesting apps and games, but one of the things that still irks me is that, unlike a full year ago, I cannot download audio or video podcasts to my iPhone like I used to. You NEED to take your laptop computer on your 3 week sabbatical to Martha's Vineyard, for example (ahem), just because you NEED it download your daily fill of podcasts, which I listen to while working out, etc.

Unfortunately, the guy who made MobileCast never did get it ported to the iPhone 2.x SDK, so I've been hanging onto the iTouch at the 1.1.4 level ever since so I can use MobileCast there.


Along comes an even more capable iPhone 2.x SDK app (for sale for $9.99, mind you, but that's fine with me) called Podcaster, and the guy tries to put it on the Apple store. After working for two months on this superb app, however, Apple actually rejects it, saying it "...duplicated functionality already in iTunes". Well, sure, the PC/MAC version of iTunes, but the whole point of the Podcaster app is that you have to be tethered to your desktop computer with a wire (and lug all that around on your 3 week vacation!) to get new podcasts.

With Podcaster, you can search for podcasts by name, and the system will download the titles of recent episodes. If you hit play on an episode, the product streams the podcast from its source. (It uses the built-in iPhone video player, so the interface rotates to landscape mode) Or you can tag individual podcasts for download, etc.

It's really, really nice.

In fact, in iTiunes, you can select your podcasts directory, then go to File->Library->Export Playlist and save the file as an ".opml" file, and then post it to an HTTP URL (ie on your home network), then point Podcaster to it from your iPhone, and....VOILA! Your whole subscription of iTunes podcasts are now available for download or streaming right from your iPhone, EDGE, 3G or WiFi.

Awesome stuff.

And although Apple doesn't want you to have it, you can still get it, at least for now. Alex Sokirynsky is sending it to people using a workaround Apple created to let developers distribute iPhone apps to testers.

Go to www.nextdayoff.com for an e-mail form. You will eventually need your phone's UDID number, which is easy to get from your phone's "Summary" page in iTiunes: See these instructions from TUAW.com.

So I bought it, and it's awesome. I think the limit for this distribution method may be limited to 100 deployments/customers though, so if you want in, go fast. I was number 11. Hopefully Apple will realize the error of their ways and let the developers innovate without undue restriction for this great mobile platform.

Some screenshots below:





You knew this would happen when you bought an iPhone though - http://www.defectivebydesign.org

FYI - MobileCast is being ported to the iphone 2.x firmware, a beta will be available very soon. If apple decide to block MC from the app store (which one would almost expect) then it will be distributed via cydia for jailbroken devices. You can find info on how to sign up for the beta here: http://blog.podgrove.com/2020/09/11/mobilecast-23-beta/

Videos Billy Graham's sermons in France at Paris Bercy in 1986 on: http://evangelistsergeragonnaud.blogspot.com/