- Overcast: Podcast Player by Overcast Radio, LLC
- Cost Free, or $4.99 for in-app purchase to unlock all features
- Website https://overcast.fm
- Download podcasts for listening anytime, even offline.
- Search and browse for new podcasts, plus get recommendations from Twitter.
- Create custom playlists with smart filters and per-podcast priorities, and rearrange the list whenever you want.
Instacast has been the podcast client of choice for me for close to three years. A matter of fact, I have put off upgrading to the latest version of Instacast for over year.
I knew that Marco Arment, software developer, was creating his own iOS podcast application. Arment is developer of the popular “read it later” service Instapaper. He sold that a few years ago and has been focusing on this new iOS app. The name of the application is Overcast.
Since its release a few weeks ago, it has been the only app I have been listening to my podcasts with. Here are some of my first thoughts on the application and whether it was worth the wait.
The main focus of a podcast client is to make it easy to access all subscriptions and manage accessibility to the episodes. But before you start using the app, you need to pull in your subscriptions from another podcast app. Overcast has the ability to import from another app. In the settings, there is a “Import from Another App”. This is a one step process. Once you take this step, you can begin exploring the features of Overcast.
The design and typography of it is stunning. This doesn’t surprise me since Instapaper had the same attention to detail. There are a few apps that I use where you can tell design was an afterthought in its development. The buttons are readily accessible and easy to navigate to. This is especially the case when you are driving. Scrubbing within the app to jump to a particular place is simple. Dragging on the podcast time indicator you can easily get to a specific position. The precision and accuracy is very smooth. Another design detail that I enjoy is that visual playback of a podcast. Once the podcast is playing, there is a visual audio meter that overlays on top of the podcast artwork. This visual design is seen in both the playlist list and the full podcast view. Exquisite.
I like the playlist feature in Instacast better than that of Overcast. Both apps allow you to create custom playlists allowing you to stack episodes in one continuous feed. Overcast addresses the playlist by having smart playlists settings where you add subscriptions into the feed. For some instances this works for me, but on occasion I want to lump random episodes into a listening queue. From what I can tell, you can edit a playlist to add or subtract from a playlist. I still need to play more with this feature to make a definitive call on its usefulness.
The two best features of Overcast though are Smart Speed and Voice boost. I subscribe to about 30 podcasts and for most of them I am behind. Needless to say that for most of them I play them at 1.5x to double speed. If Overcast didn’t have this feature, I wouldn’t even consider using it. The app has 9 different speed variations ranging between one notch below normal speed to one notch above double speed.
It also has another feature that I have not seen in other podcast apps. The Smart Speed shortens the slight pauses or blank air in the podcast, hence, saving time. The Voice Boost feature is perfect for those times when the recording of the podcast is at a lower level. Or you have background noise, such as, a vacuum and need that extra level. Think of it as that “11” from This is Spinal Tap. You click this feature on and the audio is dynamically elevated louder.
A couple things about these last two effects. You can set the criteria up based on the podcast. So if you have a music podcast where you would never want the speed adjusted, you would turn this off. Finally, these last couple features require an in-app purchase of $4.99. You can test them out in the free version for 5 minutes at a time.
Trying out the app will cost you nothing, but it does come with a few other limitations. Variable playback speed, cellular downloads, and per podcast playback effects settings are not available in the free version. If you are a podcast listener, then this app is worth trying out.