Since I can’t use the iTunes link to subscribe to a podcast in any other app, I have to do either of the following:
- Open Castro.
- Tap the + icon to add a new podcast.
- Search for the name of the podcast.
- Select the right podcast and subscribe.
- Visit the podcast’s website in Safari.
- Find the link to its RSS feed.
- Tap it, forgetting that Apple’s own Podcasts app handles RSS links.
- Switch back to Safari.
- Copy the link to the RSS feed.
- Open Castro.
- Tap the + icon to add a new podcast, at which point the URL in the clipboard is autofilled and I can then subscribe.
Ok, it’s not a long process, but it sure as hell is inconvenient.
Using Workflow for easier podcast subscriptions
A favourite of mine, Workflow is a fantastic automation tool that takes advantage of many features, such as extensions in iOS 8. Workflows can be run directly from the share sheet as an Action, providing a near-limitless number of possibilities.
After using Workflow for a few months, and reading what others have been able to do with it, I was determined to find a way to avoid either of the above processes when subscribing to a podcast, and I began to look for any way to somehow find the direct feed of a podcast from it’s iTunes link.
I stumbled upon this post on Super User, which explains how to decode an iTunes podcast link into a JSON file, surfacing all of its information - and the feed URL.
Using this information, I’ve created a workflow that can be called from the share sheet in iOS that will query the iTunes link, find the feed’s actual URL and pass it along to a third-party app of your choice, or just copy to the clipboard. You’re now able to browse the Podcast directory, or open any iTunes link to a podcast, and subscribe to any podcast using the app of your choice. No more app switching and searching for podcasts.
A quick rundown of what the workflow does to accomplish this:
- A regular expression is used to find the podcast’s ID number from the URL, storing it as the variable
- Gets the contents of the URL used to find more information about a feed, using
- Another regular expression is used to identify the
feedUrl value, which gives us the feed’s direct URL and is saved as the variable
- A menu is created with the option to copy
PodcastURL to the clipboard, or open it in a number of third-party apps.
- An alert is displayed if the URL is copied to the clipboard.
- To open the feed in either Castro or Instacast, a regular expression is used to find and replace “http” or “https” with “castro” or “podcast”. For Overcast, Workflow includes a built-in action for Overcast which is used.