Solution for “Podcast Cannot Be Played On This iPhone” (or iPod or iPad)

Ever since iOS 4 release, more and more people are reporting an error on their Apple devices when attempting to download certain podcasts. The error as per this screenshot says:

“Podcast cannot be played on this iPhone” where Podcast is replaced with your actual Podcast you attempted to download.

I actually had this same problem much before my iOS upgrade, and I discovered that this occurs sometimes, but not all the time. In my experience, it occurs in the following scenarios:

  • When downloading over 3G
  • When an ISP runs a transparent proxy server for its web traffic
  • When a Unified Threat Management appliance or software Anti-virus protection scans http (web) traffic

The latter one applied to the most common places I frequent, and naturally we use Unified Threat Management everywhere possible. If you run UTMs such as ClearOS, Untangle or Astaro, disable Anti-virus scanning by URL, extension, or whatever exception you’re comfortable with. It’s worth noting not to be too liberal with the exceptions as you do want the protection of Anti-virus scanning for drive-by website downloads to be active for all other types of downloads.
In our own case, we decided to exempt cachefly.net domain from being virus-scanned since TWiT.tv’s podcasts are hosted there and they were the most common ones to be accessed from iOS devices.

If you’re wondering about your ISP running a Proxy to save on bandwidth, we have prepared a web-page to check:

http://www.iamanerd.com/whoami.asp (opens in a new window/tab)

Note that this page will NOT detect if your internal network runs a proxy, only if your ISP does. Here’s how you can tell:

Scenario 1: Your http IP and your https IP are the same: Your ISP does not run a transparent proxy server

Scenario 2: Your http IP and your https IP are not the same: Your ISP runs a transparent proxy server.

If the latter scenario proves to be yours, you may not be able to do much as bandwidth costs in many countries is differentiated between local and international, and the way ISPs can contain costs is by providing a cache/proxy service to their customers. However, if you have the option to request a proxy bypass, that may solve your podcast downloads as well as other common issues with Transparent Proxy servers.

If this has helped you or if you have any additional insight or help on this issue we welcome your comments!

7 Responses to “Solution for “Podcast Cannot Be Played On This iPhone” (or iPod or iPad)”

  1. DeInit January 24, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Well that’s not my case, for I get the error while on wifi on my iPhone 4, but my iPad downloads the very same podcasts just fine on the same network (the Gametrailers.com podcasts, all of them). It started after I restored my iPhone to factory because it had gotten unbearably slow, something I didn’t do for my iPad (that, I just restored from a previous backup). Both are running iOS4.2.1. As noted around the web, these podcasts can be played, provided you download them on iTunes first, but by the nature of my experience I’d say it isn’t always a case of network factors.

  2. GeoffT June 20, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    Sorry but this is not a solution (apart from it being written in “geek speak” so difficult for non-techies to understand). I have a new iPhone 4 and the error message appears when I use WiFi to attempt to synch Podcasts downloaded to my MacBook (Apple Nuggets is the latest) and when I try to download the podcast directly to my iPhone.

  3. healthyemily November 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Not all iTunes videos can be transferred to iPod. There are lots of limitations including resolution, bit rate, aspect ratio, size audio codec, and so on. You need convert them to iPod compatible video. Even you already convert your video files to iTunes compatible video MP4, MOV, M4V, sometimes you are still unable to copy them to iPod due to the false specifications output by not so professional video converters.

    Here is a two solutions to help you fix the “cannot be played on iPod” error message. It’s dead easy. The solutions are also applied to solving “cannot be played on iPad/iPhone/Apple TV” error massage.


  4. home daycare 21208 March 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re using? I’m having some small security problems with my latest website and I would like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any recommendations?

  5. Kevin March 23, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    We use WordPress to power the Nerds Blog.

  6. Darren May 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Im book marking https://www.nerdsonsite.com/blog/2010/12/27/cannot-be-played-on-this-iphone/ now on all of my bookmarking websites so I remember to read this post later on. I was given a new ipad and I’m trying my best to discover everything I may want to do with it, excellent post many thanks!


  1. Tweets that mention My solution to "podcast cannot be played on this iPhone" - hopefully this helps others with the same frustrations: -- Topsy.com - December 28, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Redekop, Kevin Lloyd. Kevin Lloyd said: Solution for “Podcast Cannot Be Played On This iPhone” (or iPod or iPad): Ever since iOS 4 release, more and mor… http://bit.ly/elD1bT […]

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