On the way

Not going to bother apologizing for the long delay in blog posts, apologies get old for everyone. Just gonna say what's imminent, whats coming, and what's coming a bit later.


Updated watch app - The watch app has finally been updated to support watchOS 2, 3, and 4. Support for watchOS 1 has been dropped. This is mainly just a technical transition, don't expect huge changes. You'll still need your phone to use the app. Stand alone features will come later. That said, the new watch app has complication support, should be snappier and more reliable, and should provide the iOS app with a performance boost since it no longer needs to do nearly as much work to keep the watch app up to date. This should be in beta later this week.

Help article update - I've used Desk.com for support tickets and support articles for years, and if you don't have anything nice to say. A few months ago I switched to Front for support tickets, what a relief. Today I've switched the support articles over to Helpdocs.io, another relief. There's still a lot of work to do on the articles, but they've all had a once over, some old ones thrown on the burn pile, and now they look like they were created this century.

Maintenance - Continued maintenance on the v2.9.x version of Downcast. A lot of problems have been corrected recently in the v2.9.x version and will continue until v3 is released.

Coming soon

Server side feed aggregation - Refreshing feeds is a huge resource hog. It burns CPU, RAM, and battery life. Moving this process server-side will save your battery, make Downcast snappier in general, and prevent a lot of sporadic crashes that are a result of memory pressure. Downcast will still refresh password protected and private feeds on your device, so the functionality won't disappear entirely, it'll just have much less of a presence. This is far along in development. At this point I'm just ironing out some performance issues, trying not to spend too much on servers.

Push notifications - Server side aggregation makes this possible, and required. It's been a long missing feature of Downcast and I can't wait to get this done.

Sync system replacement - This is another resource hog right now due to the type of iCloud syncing we're currently using. The replacement will be far more reliable and far less resource consuming. Between moving feed refreshing to the server and replacing the sync system, you should notice a significant improvement in both performance and battery life.

Coming a bit later

V3 - If Duke Nukem Forever™ was a podcast app. As much as I want to just wrap this up, server side aggregation and replacing the sync system have to come first. Refreshing on the device and the current sync system are the two biggest sources of problems and customer support for Downcast. I don't want Downcast to inherit any of the problems v2.x has by not addressing these two things first.

Apple TV app & Web presence - Hope to round things out with these two. Again, server side aggregation and a new sync system make these much easier.

v2.9.18 Update

v2.9.18 (iOS & macOS) has been submitted to the App Store for review. Assuming no arbitrary roadblocks are thrown in it's way, it should be available within the next two days.

This is a very minor maintenance update. The primary purpose of this update was to fix a serious iCloud bug caused by a change in the way a specific API responds in iOS 11 & macOS 10.13. This prevented iCloud syncing options from being enabled in Downcast if you had either removed all of Downcast's iCloud data (per our troubleshooting suggestion) or you had never enabled Downcast's iCloud syncing options before.

This also makes a minor change to the feed subscription process. Now, when you play an episode directly from search results or top podcast results, the 'Subscribe' button no longer becomes disabled.

There will be another update prior to the iPhone X being released.

Live development stream

By popular request, there's now a live stream of Downcast's development. Just kidding, there is a stream, but no one would ever request this. The wait for v3 is a frustrating one, for you and me. Besides working as much as possible on it, there's not much I can do to alleviate your irritation until it's done. I can, however, throw myself into the fire by letting you watch me work and accept any friendly abuse that comes with that.🙂

"Why would I watch you work on Downcast?", you may ask. No idea, but here's what you'll see if you tune in...my dumb face, my junky home office (hopefully less junky soon), unhealthy coffee consumption, angry coding, ADHD, my RU1 if she forgets I'm streaming, and frequent appearances of our corporate leader, Rotunda.

All kidding aside, the point is to lighten the mood a bit, show you I'm actually working, and that I'm just a guy trying to make something great again. I'm totally uncomfortable on camera, but anything for Downcast.🙂

Is this stupid? Maybe. I may freak out after 5 minutes and git revert this blog post, but I'll give it at least 5 minutes.

So, feel free to watch, not watch, make fun of me in live chat, etc. Just keep it clean, semi-respectful, and stick around until v3 is done, it'll be worth the wait!

Downcast Development Stream

Inexplicably, YouTube won't allow live streams to be embedded until you reach a certain number of views. Until then, the frame below won't work and you'll have to view it directly on YouTube.com.

Click here to watch the stream on YouTube

1. Romantic Unit - A blanket term for two people in a relationship that dislike the stock terms.

v2.x update, iPhone X, v3 screenshots ⟶

I never said I was fast. I really did intend to post updates more frequently, and I still do! It's been another crazy couple of months for me, but I'm still hard at work on v3 and still shooting for around the end of the year for releasing it. [more]

Localization ⟶

Just a quick note, as of today I'm officially full-time on Downcast. That means things will actually get done in a reasonable amount of time! That will include more frequent status updates, and hopefully a couple of minor bug fix updates for v2.9.x soon. [more]

JSON Feed ⟶

Parsing feeds has always been one of the more unpleasant parts of Downcast's codebase. Much of that is to blame on the fact that podcast feeds, RSS & Atom, are XML based. XML is incredibly powerful, but nearly all of that power is lost on simple podcast feeds. They could easily be expressed using JSON. [more]

Time ⟶

Time is a frustrating thing. There's never enough of it, it passes too quickly, too slowly, we have to waste it sleeping, there's daylight saving time, no one uses decimal time, etc. The last few years have been incredibly frustrating for me because of the lack of time I've had to devote to Downcast. I've been supplementing my income with contract work, then spending whatever time was left over, which hasn't been much, to work on Downcast. I also don't work well when I'm torn between multiple unrelated tasks, so the time I have had for Downcast has been distracted time at best. That's been frustrating, depressing, stressful, you name it. [more]

Still Here ⟶

First things first, I want to apologize for the lack of updates, responsiveness, and general silence for the last several months. It has been a struggle recently trying to find the necessary time to devote to Downcast and its users. That said, I'm still working on finishing V3, and Downcast is not dead. [more]

Mac Media Keys ⟶

As of version 2.9.17, Downcast for Mac can finally be controlled using an Apple keyboard's media keys. Since Apple still doesn't permit sandboxed apps to control the media keys, we have to do this with the help of a free 3rd party app called BeardedSpice. This app acts as a system wide controller for your media keys, passing media key press events to the appropriate application whether it's Downcast, Spotify, iTunes or some other app. [more]

Upcoming changes ⟶

Sorry for the long break, I've been busy working on the next major version of Downcast, v3.0. For the initial release of v3.0 my focus is modernizing the UI and underlying codebase changes that will reduce bugs, improve performance, and make adding features and making changes a far less time consuming process. Downcast has been playing catchup with iOS and macOS releases for a while now and v3.0 should help to break that cycle. After the initial release, the plan is to push out some other significant improvements as quickly as possible. [more]

iCloud Syncing Changes ⟶

A number of syncing improvements are being introduced in v2.9.13. Performance and reliability are the focus. Both the iOS and Mac apps are receiving the same treatment. [more]

Publishers and user-agents ⟶

When an application makes a request for a web resource, it includes a user-agent string in that request to identify itself to the server. The server may use this for any number of reasons like serving up mobile vs desktop versions of websites, analytics, etc. [more]

CarPlay ⟶

Downcast's CarPlay support is currently awaiting review now available in the App Store! This is an exciting addition for Downcast. You've been asking for this for a long time and it's finally here. [more]

A few notes on App Store reviews ⟶

App Store reviews affect sales, no doubt. That's why so many apps have a nag screen begging for ratings. Downcast won't do that in the app since it's annoying, but it doesn't mean I don't want your positive review or 5-star rating! [more]

Tips - A Way to Support Downcast ⟶

Downcast has always been one of the most inexpensive podcast clients available despite its long list of features. I’d like to keep it that way but it needs to generate more revenue in order to continue adding the features podcast listeners want and expand to other platforms. [more]

Downcast in 2016... ⟶

Downcast had its ups and downs in 2015. I took over development & support at the beginning of 2015 and it has been a learning experience. An Apple Watch app was introduced and our iOS player UI was overhauled. The player UI change brought with it some painful bugs but now that the worst of them are resolved, Downcast is in a much better position to be improved going forward. [more]