Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Overcast 1.0

Marco Arment:

It’s been a long road, but 1.0 is finally done. I’m proud of what I’m shipping today.

Overcast FAQ:

The servers do the heavy lifting of constantly checking for updates so your device doesn’t need to download each show’s entire feed every few minutes to make sure you get new episodes quickly. The servers send only what’s new to the app, and it only takes a few seconds. This saves substantial battery power and data usage over time.

Jason Snell:

Overcast is free, though feature-limited. “I want to offer a better alternative for the mass market, so it must be free,” Arment says in a statement on the Overcast website. For a $5 in-app purchase, however, users can unlock numerous additional features, including: support for downloads over cellular, features that modify or improve sound output (more on those below), and unlimited playlists and episodes in playlists (there’s only one playlist, with 5 episodes, by default).

[…]

Overcast does the best job of speed-alteration I’ve heard, and now I listen to many podcasts on slightly higher than 1x speed.

Separately, Overcast offers a Smart Speed feature that intelligently removes silence from podcasts, shortening episodes even if you don’t choose to listen at a higher speed. (You can also use the two features simultaneously for even more time saving).

It sounds good to me, but I doubt there’s a good way to import my current podcast state: which episodes I’ve listened to, deleted, partially played, imported separate from loose files, etc.

Update (2014-07-17): See also these reviews from Federico Viticci, Rene Ritchie, and Josh Centers.

Update (2014-07-22): Kirk McElhearn:

Below, two screenshots show what you see when playing an episode. To the left, I’ve scrolled up on the podcast’s icon; it shrinks and displays show notes, with clickable links. To the right, you can see the Effects screen, which is the feature that has won me over. This lets you speed up podcasts, without the sort of Alvin and the Chipmunks sound that most podcast apps give you. The Smart Speed setting cuts out bits of silence, helping you save a bit more time when listening to podcasts, and Voice Boost equalizes the podcasts for vocal frequencies, making them clearer. Altogether, I find this the best playback of any podcast app I’ve used.

3 Comments

What I did with my previous podcast app transition was to stop updating podcasts in the old app and just listen to the old and previously downloaded podcasts there until they were gone.

Personally, there are a few things to bug me about Overcast at the moment so I think I'll be sticking with Instacast — but I definitely welcome the choice to move. Instacast has accumulated a lot of long-standing bugs and has essentially nonexistent support — for which I'm understanding of App Store economics, but this doesn't change the fact that obvious bugs I've been reporting in some cases for years still haven't been fixed.

@Nicholas Yes, I think that’s the best strategy. But you still have to go through each feed to delete the episodes that are in the other app, recreate playlists, etc. And, since some podcasts are higher priority than others, there would be a long time using both apps.

Downloaded it, tried it, even paid to unlock all the features so I could honestly say I gave it a thorough try.

It’s a decent 1.0 from Marco, but I’m sticking with PocketCasts. It does way too much of what I want and how I want it done for me to switch.

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