iTunes bugs mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel
January 14, 2015 8:16 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to keep podcast subscriptions and listens on two Macs and an iPhone synced that supports downloading episodes (i.e., not web-only)? If the answer involves iTunes, I might need an explanation of how to fix it since each copy of iTunes seems to be doing its own thing. I'm not looking for live slinging/transfer of audio to another device since the Macs are in completely different locations and the phone isn't always around.
posted by michaelh to Technology (2 answers total)
I think that InstaCast is the best app that has Mac and iOS clients, and while I'm not certain, I'm pretty sure that it syncs between the iOS client and the Mac app pretty well. On the Mac side, you can test it with a free trial from their web site. Downcast also has Mac and iOS clients, and does syncing. But while it may have gotten better (even much better) I only had mediocre luck with Downcast sync between iOS devices in the past (and I think their interface is pretty clunky).

If you're content to stream your podcasts on the computers (but download to the iPhone), you could use Overcast on your iPhone and use the Overcast web interface to stream your podcasts on the Mac. I don't like several things about the way Overcast works, but because of the way it's set up, the sync is going to be pretty solid, and (while it's worth paying the $5 for the extra features in the iOS app) you can do most things / everything for free, and without an OS dependency on the computer side.

In theory, I think you can do what you want with iTunes, but I'd recommend buying an iPod touch and using one of the apps I've mentioned (or iCatcher) instead. I don't think Apple 'gets' podcasts at all, and their cloud services (i.e. sync) are notorious. You'd want the latest Podcast app installed on your iPhone, and at least iTunes 11 (maybe 12 is required) on both of the computers. All three need to be logged into the same Apple account. On the computer, open preferences and pull up the 'Store' tab. Check 'Sync playback information across devices' and 'Sync podcast subscriptions and settings' boxes then click OK. Under 'Setting' in iOS, pull up the 'Podcasts' preference pane and make sure that 'Sync Podcasts' is turned on. I believe, but am VERY far from certain that this will get all three devices approximately in communication. But that doesn't mean that they won't continue to do their own thing because iTunes and Apple (Bitter? Me?).
posted by wotsac at 4:16 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Really appreciate the response. Yes, web on the desktop is totally fine; it's just the phone that really needs the downloads. I completely forgot Overcast has the web streaming now. I have been testing that and it works great so far (except that it doesn't always display the correct time remaining even though the episode starts from the right spot.)
posted by michaelh at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2015

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