Instacast 5 Migration Guide

This guide is designed to assist those who are familiar with previous versions of Instacast to get up to speed with the changes and additions included in Instacast 5.

Up Next

Up Next is no longer located in the sidebar, but is instead accessible by scrolling the podcast’s artwork in the media player (see below) if there are any episodes queued up.

Continuous Playback

Instacast 5 introduces the ability to play episodes in a list continuously. In Instacast 4, you had to go to a list, queue up episodes in Up Next and then tap play. Now, you can open the episode list’s options (by tapping ‘edit’) and enable continuous playback for that specific list. When you start playing an episode in that list, all other episodes will be automatically copied to Up Next and play sequentially.

Redesigned Media Player

Instacast 5’s media player has received a few changes from previous versions. You can now swipe down on the podcast artwork to minimise the player, and you can swipe up to view the current episode’s chapters and bookmarks. If you continue to scroll past the chapters and bookmarks, you’ll reach the Up Next queue, which is now located directly in the media player instead of the sidebar. You can reorder and remove episodes from Up Next here too.

Overhauled Episode List Management

Episode lists are far more customisable in Instacast 5. When you add an episode list, you’ll be able to choose exactly which attributes (such as unplayed, video, favourites etc.) and podcast subscriptions you’d like to be included in the list, and then podcast episodes will automatically be collected for you. When new episodes arrive that match the list’s attributes, they’ll be automatically added too. Also, It’s now possible to play entire episode lists continuously if the ‘Continuous Playback’ option is enabled, and lists will automatically sync to other devices via Instacast Cloud too.

Search

Instacast 5 enables you to search episode titles and show notes for specific keywords, and you can also make episode lists based on specific keywords. To search for episodes, enter a search term into the search field at the top of the ‘Podcasts’ view. To make keyword-specific lists, enter your chosen keyword in the episode list creation screen.

To search, you’ll either need to have an active Instacast Cloud membership or make an in-app purchase to unlock it.

Night Mode

Night Mode dims Instacast 5’s interface, making it much easier on the eyes when using in the dark. Night Mode can be enabled in Instacast’s settings, toggled on and off by shaking your device, or configured to automatically enable and disable at sunset and sunrise respectively. To toggle Night Mode automatically, you will need to grant Instacast permission to use your location.

To use Night Mode, you’ll either need to have an active Instacast Cloud membership or make an in-app purchase to unlock it.

Using Instacast

General

Troubleshooting


Using Instacast

How do I navigate the app?

The sidebar menu lets you switch between Instacast’s different views and functions. Tap the sidebar icon in the top-left corner of each view’s initial screen to access it. Alternatively, shake your device to reveal the sidebar menu from wherever you are in Instacast’s hierarchy.

How do I subscribe to a podcast?

Tap the plus button in the bottom left of the ‘Subscriptions’ view or select ‘Directory’ from the sidebar menu.

This will open Instacast’s podcast directory, which allows you to browse both audio and video podcasts by popularity, author or genre. Additionally, you can subscribe to a podcast via its URL by pasting the URL into the search field.

How do I play a podcast?

Tap on the play icon next to the episode’s description to open the media player and begin playback. You can pause and play the episode, skip forwards and backwards by 30 seconds (this can be changed in Instacast’s main settings), drag the playback slider to jump to a specific point in the episode, adjust the volume slider, view show notes, bookmarks and the Up Next queue by tapping the icon in the upper right, and hide the media player by tapping the the arrow in the upper left.

How do I refresh my subscriptions and check for new episodes?

Your subscriptions will be refreshed automatically when your device is idle. However, you can also do this manually by pulling down from the top of the ‘Subscriptions’ view.

Are there more advanced playback options?

Yes. Underneath the volume slider a set of advanced playback controls allow you to stream audio via Airplay, change playback speed, set a sleep timer, add a bookmark and access various sharing options.

What are bookmarks?

By adding a bookmark to an episode you are able to instantly return to a specific point. To add a bookmark, tap on the bookmark icon in the media player, add a title when prompted and tap ‘OK’ to save the current point. You can access your bookmarks by selecting ‘Bookmarks’ in the sidebar menu.

What is a Smart List?

A Smart List automatically sorts and updates podcast episodes from a variety of variables: Unplayed, Favorites, Downloaded, Partially Played, Recently Played and Most Recent. To create a Smart List, tap the plus button in the ‘Lists’ view and select ‘Add Smart List’.

What is a List?

A List is a collection of episodes arranged into a specific order. To create one, tap the plus button in the ‘Lists’ view and select ‘Add List’.

What is Up Next?

Up Next functions as a dynamic playlist that allows you to queue episodes for sequential playback. Once the episodes in Up Next have finished playing they are automatically removed from the playback queue. To add an episode to Up Next, just hold your finger on an episode and tap ‘Play Next’ to play the episode after the currently playing episode, or tap ‘Add to Up Next’ to add the episode to the bottom of the Up Next playback queue.

What are Favorites?

Favorites are episodes that you have marked to indicate preference or to quickly refer to again later. Additionally, Favorites will not be deleted automatically if you have configured Instacast to delete played episodes and/or downloaded files automatically. To add a podcast to the ‘Favorites’ smart playlist, tap the episode to view the show notes and then tap the ‘...’ icon and select ‘Mark as Favorite’. Additionally, you can simply swipe the episode to the left to mark it as a Favorite without opening the show notes.

How do I manage my subscriptions?

Tap on a podcast to be presented with a list of that podcast’s episodes. From this view, tap the arrow in the top-right corner to be taken to a screen displaying additional information about the podcast.

In this view you can choose to refresh the feed manually, access sharing options or configure settings for that specific podcast.   

Tapping the settings icon in the ‘Podcast Info’ view allows you to adjust settings for the selected podcast. These settings will override Instacast’s general subscription settings, which are applied to all subscriptions by default. These podcast-specific settings can also be found under ‘Subscriptions’ in Instacast’s main settings.

How do I edit a List?

You add additional episodes to a List by tapping the plus icon in the lower left, and tapping ‘Edit’ in the top right corner allows you delete and reorder episodes.

How do I recover deleted episodes?

Simply tap the reload icon from the ‘Podcast Info’ view to refresh the feed manually and restore deleted episodes.

How do I select multiple episodes at once?

Simply tap the batch selection icon in the lower left of a subscription feed or List.

After selecting your chosen episodes you will notice that three new icons appear: the edit (pencil) icon allows you to change play/favorite states or delete episodes, the play icon lets you play all the selected episodes by adding them to Up Next, and the download icon starts downloading the selected episodes for offline playback.

How do downloads work?

You can download any episode for offline playback. To do this, tap the download icon from the show notes, or just hold your finger on an episode to bring up the option to download it.

If you have auto-download settings enabled, episodes will download automatically when your device is idle. You will notice the episode’s play icon changes color when an episode is downloaded, and you can access your downloaded files from the ‘Downloaded’ Smart List and the Offline Storage section of Instacast’s main settings.

What customization settings are available?

Tap ‘Settings’ in the sidebar menu to be presented with Instacast’s main settings. From here you can sign into Instacast Cloud (see below) and access general, subscription, notification and offline storage settings.

‘General’ allows you to set whether streaming and downloading should be allowed over cellular data, whether to sort episodes by newest or oldest and choose various playback and interface preferences.   

‘Subscriptions’ allows you to customize the settings for each of your subscriptions individually. Changes made here will override changes in ‘General’, which are applied to all podcasts by default. To indicate this, the disclosure triangle will be colored blue. Further, you can use the switches next to the podcasts’ names to temporarily disable subscriptions without completely unsubscribing from them.

‘Notifications’ allows you to receive instant notifications informing you of when new episodes are available to play. You can also choose which subscriptions you would like to be notified about from here too.    ‘Offline Storage’ lets you put a limit on the amount of space Instacast uses for storing downloads. Additionally, you can also set options to allow Instacast to download and/or delete episodes automatically. Any content you have already downloaded will be displayed here, allowing you to manage any downloaded content.

What are ‘parked subscriptions’?

Parked subscriptions are subscriptions that you choose to hide from your list of subscriptions. Additionally, these subscriptions are not automatically updated. To park a subscription select ‘Subscription Parking’ from ‘Subscriptions’ in Instacast’s main settings.

Can I export my data?

Yes. Select ‘Export Data’ or ‘Send Data as Email’ from Instacast’s main settings to export your subscriptions or bookmarks to another app or email address respectively.


General

Will Instacast work on my iDevice?

Instacast only supports devices running iOS 7 and above. Although previous versions of Instacast did support earlier versions of iOS, these have been removed from the App Store.

Is Instacast a universal app?

Yes. Instacast will work on both iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad without having to pay twice.

Can I import my subscriptions from legacy versions of Instacast?

Yes. Instacast 2.2.2 used iCloud to synchronize data, and you are given the option to import this data when you first use Instacast 4.  Alternatively, you can export your subscriptions from legacy versions of Instacast as an OPML file.

Is there a Mac version of Instacast?

Yes. The Mac version of Instacast is available to download here and will sync with your iOS devices via Instacast Cloud.  

Can I import my subscriptions from iTunes or other podcast clients?

Yes. Just export your subscriptions from your other client as an OPML file. You can open this file in Instacast to import all your previous subscriptions.

Is there an Android/Windows version of Instacast?

There are currently no plans to develop Instacast for either Android or Windows.


Troubleshooting

I keep getting the error message ‘Media not loaded.’

Unless your internet connection is faulty, this indicates that the podcast you are trying to download has been removed from the host's server and is no longer available. It's also possible that the download has been corrupted. In this case you can delete the file and re-download it with the download button under the show notes.

Some episodes appear twice – how do I remove duplicate episodes from my feeds?

To remove duplicate episodes you need to refresh the subscription's feed manually by tapping the reload icon in the Podcast Info screen.

How do I get my podcast's artwork to display correctly?

To restore corrupted artwork you need refresh the subscription's feed manually by tapping the reload icon in the Podcast Info screen.

Push Notifications not working?

Since early September we were constantly struggling with the push notification system in Instacast.

iOS 7 added the ability to send silent push notifications which would wake up an app to perform some background activity. This was great, because it meant that we could change the notification system of Instacast to inform users only if a podcast episode was already downloaded and ready to play.

However apps that have been killed by the user using the multitask switcher or for which background fetch have been disabled in system settings don't get any push notification in background anymore. This has been done I assume to conserve battery life. However users do not know about this behavior and kill apps casually. They expect apps to fetch stuff in background regardless and wonder themselves why they didn't get any push notifications for days not remembering that they killed the app. On top of that comes the fact that silent push notifications don't seem to be delivered reliably in time anymore.

We are considering to bring back the old behavior of Instacast 3 again, meaning sending textual push notifications from our server and not relying on the app working in background.

The two things you can do is not kill Instacast using the app switcher and enable background fetch in system settings.


Mac App Store

Using Instacast

General

Troubleshooting


Mac App Store

Why isn't the most recent version of Instacast available on the App Store?

The App Store review process takes at least seven days, and if an update is rejected it has to begin the review process again. Since we don't want our non-App Store customers to wait that long, we usually make the most recent version of Instacast available to non-App Store users via our in-app update feed at the same time as we submit the App Store update to Apple for review. If you don't want to wait that long, you can switch to the non-App Store version at any time (see below).

Why is support for Flattr missing?

The Flattr sharing service has been removed from the App Store version because it does not comply with the App Store rules concerning digital payments. We have discussed this with Apple in the past, but have not yet been able support it on iOS either. We are working on an extension for Instacast (which will be available to download for free from our website) that can be installed to enable Flattr in the App Store version. If you don't want to wait, you can switch to the non-App Store version at any time (see below).

Why is support for Apple Keyboard media keys missing?

Apple does not provide an official API to support the Apple Keyboard media keys. The only way to make them work is to use a low-level API to hijack the keyboard events from the event system, which can only be done by non-sandboxed Apps. Since all App Store apps need to be sandboxed, we can not add this functionality to Instacast ‘out of the box’. The non-App Store version starts a small, non-sandboxed helper app, which hijacks the media keys and sends notifications to the main Instacast app. However, this workflow does not conform to the rules of the App Store. We are working on an extension for the App Store version of Instacast that will be available for download from our website for free. Once this extension is installed, control of the media keys will be enabled in the App Store version of Instacast. If you don't want to wait, you can switch to the non-App Store version at any time (see below).

Why is it not installing after purchase?

If you previously downloaded the demo version from our website, then it is possible that the demo version had a higher version number than what is currently available on the App Store. If that's the case, then the App Store can have problems installing the purchased app. To workaround this, please delete the previously installed demo version from the Applications folder manually, and then install Instacast from the 'Purchased' section of the App Store.

How can I switch from the App Store version to the non-App Store version?

If you want to switch to the non-App Store version of Instacast, then you can download the most recent version from our website. Delete the App Store version of Instacast from the Applications folder if necessary. Open the non-App Store version of Instacast and use the "Activate App Store License…" menu item from the “Instacast" menu. Enter your name and email address, and then Instacast will automatically generate and activate a new, non-App Store license for you.

Can I switch from the non-App Store version to the App Store version?

Whilst we’d like to give our customers the option to do this, this is not currently possible. If you really want to use the Mac App Store version instead, then you will need to purchase Instacast again from the App Store.


Using Instacast

How do I subscribe to a podcast?

To subscribe to a podcast, click on the plus icon in the lower left of the ‘Subscriptions’ view or select ‘File’ > ‘Subscribe to Podcast...’ from the menu bar. This will open the podcast directory, which allows you to browse or search for podcasts to subscribe to.

How do I play an episode?

To play an episode, simply double-click on an episode from a playlist or the subscriptions list. The playback controls are located at the top of Instacast’s window. The playback controls allow you to toggle playback, skip forward or backwards by 30 seconds, drag the playback slider to change position and hover the cursor over the album artwork to display the podcast and episode names.

Are there more advanced playback options?

Additional playback controls can be found by selecting ‘Control’ from the menu bar.

What are bookmarks?

Bookmarks function in a similar manner to chapters, but whereas chapters are defined by the publisher, bookmarks can be created at any point in the recording by the user. To create a bookmark, select ‘Control’ from the menu bar and then click ‘Add Bookmark’. Additionally, you can rename bookmarks by double clicking the bookmark’s name.

How do I recover deleted episodes?

Simply reload the podcast by right-clicking on the subscription and selecting ‘Reload’.

What is a list?

A list is a collection of podcast episodes arranged into a specific order. To create one, click the plus icon in the ‘Lists’ view.

What is a ‘Smart List’?

A Smart List automatically sorts and updates podcast episodes from a variety of variables, including the following: most recent, partially played, unplayed, favourites and downloaded.

What are favorites?

Favorites are episodes that you have marked with a star to indicate preference or to refer to later. Additionally, favorites will not be deleted automatically if you have configured Instacast to delete played episodes automatically. To add a podcast to the ‘Favorites’ Smart List right-click the episode and select ‘Mark as Favorite’.

How do downloads work?

To download an episode for offline playback right-click the episode and select ‘Download File’; to delete the downloaded file right-click the downloaded episode and select ‘Delete File’. Note that this will not delete the episode from the podcast’s episode list – only the downloaded content will be deleted and the episode will still be available to stream or re-download in the future.

What customisation settings are available?

Click ‘Instacast’ > ‘Preferences’ from the menu bar to be presented with Instacast’s main settings. From here you can configure general, playback, storage, sharing and sync settings.

Can I export my data?

You can export your subscription data as an OPML file by clicking ‘File’ > ‘Subscriptions’ > ‘Export to OPML...’. Bookmarks can be exported by clicking ‘File’ > ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Export to XPFF...’.


General

What are the trial limitations?

Instacast for Mac can be tested for free within 14 days. After the trial period is over, playback is will be disabled.

Will Instacast work on my Mac?

Instacast for Mac will only work on Macs running OS X 10.8 or higher.

How can I retrieve my license?

You can easily get your license code back by following these steps:

  1. Open the "Enter License..." window by selecting the corresponding entry in the "Instacast" menu.
  2. Click on the "Recover license" link in the "License Lost" area at the bottom of the window.
  3. Enter your email address which you used when purchasing Instacast.
  4. Click on the "Recover" button.

After a few minutes you should get an email containing your license information.

How do I import my subscriptions from the iOS version of Instacast?

The easiest way top do this is to simply sign in to Instacast Cloud and all you subscriptions will automatically appear in Instacast for Mac. Of course, you will need to have synchronised your iOS device with Instacast cloud beforehand. if you don’t have an internet connection, you can export your subscriptions from the iOS version as an OPML file, which can then be imported into Instacast for Mac.

How do I import my subscriptions from iTunes?

You will need to export your subscriptions as an OPML file, which can then be imported into Instacast for Mac.

Is there an iOS version of Instacast?

Yes. Instacast started life as an iOS app before being developed for OS X. Instacast for iOS is available here and syncs to the Mac version via Instacast Cloud. For more details, please see the iOS version of Instacast’s product page.

Will there be a version of Instacast for Windows?

There are currently no plans to create a Windows version of Instacast.


Troubleshooting

How do I remove duplicate episodes from my subscriptions feeds?

To remove duplicate episodes you need to reload the subscription's feed manually by right-clicking the subscription and selecting ‘Reload’.

How do I get my podcast's artwork to display correctly?

On occasion, a podcast's artwork can become corrupted. To restore the artwork you need to reload the subscription's feed manually by right-clicking the subscription and selecting ‘Reload’.

Apple Media Keys are not working with Instacast.

There is a bug in OS X 10.8.4 that prevents sandboxed apps to launch applications that are not sandboxed when Gatekeeper is turned off, even though both apps are signed by the same developer. In order to make Apple Media Keys work with Instacast, we have to launch a simple helper app (that is not sandboxed). This helper app automatically quits once Instacast is terminated. To circumvent this problem, please make sure you have Gatekeeper enabled. To enable Gatekeeper:

  1. Open the System Preferences.
  2. Select 'Security & Privacy'.
  3. Set the 'Allow applications downloaded from:' option to 'Mac App Store and identified developers'.

Once done, restart Instacast and enable "Enable Apple Media Keys" in the 'Playback' preferences.


General

Troubleshooting


General

What is Instacast Cloud?

Instacast Cloud is a custom built cloud synchronization service. When using Instacast for the first time you are given the option to register an account with Instacast Cloud, and you can access your account info from Instacast’s main settings or instacastcloud.com.

How much does Instacast Cloud cost?

Instacast Cloud is provided free of charge for all Instacast users.

Why not use iCloud?

iCloud has a number of issues when syncing complex databases, which can cause a great deal of difficulty for third-party developers. This is a well-attested fact, and a number of leading iOS developers are taking it upon themselves to provide their own cloud synchronization solution to circumvent these problems. Furthermore, Instacast's own synchronization solution is quicker than iCloud, which means that customers will appreciate a faster user experience.

What information does Instacast Cloud sync?

Instacast Cloud synchronizes the following: subscriptions, deleted episodes, played and unplayed states, playback position for individual episodes, favorites and bookmarks.

How do I sync my data?

On iOS

To synchronize your data you simply need to create an account when you first launch Instacast – all synchronization is automatic. If you declined the option to create a cloud account when first using Instacast, you can find the option to make one in Instacast's main settings.

On Mac

All data is synchronised automatically, but you can trigger a synchronisation manually by going to ‘File’ > ‘Update with Instacast Cloud’. From here, you will also be able to see the last time Instacast synchronised with Instacast Cloud.


Troubleshooting

Why can't I sync with Instacast 3 on iOS 6 anymore?

The sync in Instacast 3 and Instacast 4 since version 4.5 are incompatible. We completely redesigned the Cloud Sync vor Instacast 4.5 to improve its performance and reliability and are not able to maintain backward compatibility with Instacast 3. While it's still possible that you can synchronize Instacast 3 devices with other Instacast 3 devices under iOS 6, there will be a point in the future, where we have to shutdown this service as well. Instacast Cloud Sync is a free service and we can not maintain it indefinitely for old versions. Instacast 4.5 is a free update. Please update.

What changed in Instacast 4.5 and Instacast Mac 1.2?

For the Cloud Sync in Instacast 4.5 and Instacast Mac 1.2 we went back to the drawing board and created a complete new system, new client API, new server API and new server architecture.

Prior versions tried to synchronize the complete application database and stored a history of every change that you made in the past. This history was transmitted in transaction logs to other devices. You can image that this history increased in size over time and there was really no point in time where it was save to delete old transaction logs. New devices had to "playback" the whole transaction log and thus making a lot of changes in the database that weren't necessary. While this approach has the benefit of being complete and mostly correct, it puts a real burden on clients especially mobile devices. It has the potential of increasing data compared with getting slower and slower over time. It was clear to us that this was not the right approach for Instacast going forward.

The new sync does not keep a history of every change ever made. It only stores 1 snapshot of your current data set and only tracks deleted objects over time. We moved the merging of data from the client to the server, which means that the server now holds the truth. Instacast is also not synchronizing everything anymore. Only small bits of information are sent over the network, just enough to reproduce the current state on another device. This approach saves a lot of network traffic, server capacity, performance and battery capacity. It is also much, much faster.

At this point Instacast is not synchronizing playlists and settings. If this is something that you really need, please let us know.


Table of Contents


How to list a podcast with Instacast?

Podcasts are listed on Instacast automatically, once at least one user has subscribed the feed. All other feeds can be found using the integrated Podcast Search, that actually uses the iTunes directory to search for podcasts.

How to integrate a podcast with Flattr?

To enable Flattr payment with your podcast, please refer to this article.

We had some difficulties with Apple about the integration with Flattr. Please refer to this article for more information.

How to link a podcast website player?

Instacast can continue playback on a website or can copy a playback URL to the clipboard. To enable this feature for your website, please refer to this article.

How to provide a podcast specific Share URL?

With Instacast 2.0, users can share personal comments along with a particular section of a podcast episode. Instacast has its own web service to provide a web player which can link directly to this section. This web service also includes a link to the original site of the podcast author. However if you as the podcast author would like to provide this web service yourself, you need to support the Podlove Deep Linking specification in your podcast feeds. If Instacast detects that a deep link is provided by the podcast author, it uses this specification to create the Share URLs.

How to link alternative feeds with different formats?

Instacast 2.0 supports a method to link multiple related feeds together and present the user with a user interface to choose between them. Please have a look at the Podlove Alternate Feeds specification on how to implement this feature in your podcast.

Should I limit the size of my podcast feeds?

Absolutely, the longer your feed, the longer it loads, the longer it needs to be parsed. While Instacast, the app is not limiting the feed length yet, other online services do. Feedburner e.g. limits the maximum feed length to 512 kb. The Instacast push notification service will also limit the feed length to this value in the future.

How to get my Podcast featured?

For the upcoming version of Instacast we are working on a new online directory that allows us to feature podcasts in hit lists and categories. As a featured podcasts your podcast is moved to the top of the list and gets special artwork treatment. There can either be one or two features per podcast listing.

To get your podcast featured, please send an email to publisher (at) our domain and provide the canonical feed URL. You can also send us a special feature URL that redirects to the canonical feed URL. You can also send us your special artwork treatment. We accept two formats: 300x80pt for iPhone and 520x80pt for iPad. Ideally you send us both formats in 1x and 2x resolution, so that we have all choices where to put the podcast feature.

To be more clear, this means sending 4 images: 300x80px, 600x160px and 520x80, 1040x160pt

How do we decide which podcast to feature?

Your podcast needs to meet some basic quality standards. For one your podcast feed needs to be free of parsing errors and it needs to comply to either the RSS or Atom standard. Make sure you also use the iTunes Podcast Extension to include good metadata. You can check your feed on feedvalidator.org.

The podcast artwork needs to be nice on the eye. We don't accept crappy artwork done with Windows Paint. Please also make sure that titles or slogans on your artwork can be read clearly and that colors are not over-saturated.

Another criteria is that your metadata must be clean and free of SEO bs. We don't accept podcasts with 300 character titles. Please make sure you put subtitles and keywords into its respective tags.

How to make a feed refresh faster?

Instacast makes use of the HTTP ETag header to speed up refreshes. Basically the first time it asks for the feed content, the server replies with a content relevant Etag hash that changes as soon as the content itself changes. The next time Instacast asks the server for content it passes the old ETag along and if it did not change in the meantime, the server just sends back a "304 Not Modified" message instead of the feed content. This way Instacast knows that it doesn't need to parse the feed over and over again. Make sure your feed infrastructure supports this method. In addition of faster refreshes, your server also saves a lot of bandwidth and resources. If you're using Feedburner, you are in the clear.


Latest Update: 28. Sep 2013 for 3.0


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