Thursday, September 20, 2018

Overcast 5

Marco Arment:

I’ve been getting emails almost every day from people asking where the speed controls were because they set them once and couldn’t find them again, or saying how they’d really like my app more if it offered speed controls. The only indication in the interface was three “page dots” below the scrollable area, but that wasn’t enough.

The new design maintains the same scrollable pages, but now as obvious, tactile cards. In my testing, everyone figured these out immediately.


Podcasts now display their estimated release frequency (daily, weekly, etc.) if it can be inferred.

The new interface is much better except that the new search box is always shown. I wish that it only appeared when you pull down, as it takes up a lot of space on my iPhone SE. The main feature I’d like to see in a future version of Overcast is better support for triaging within a playlist. Right now you cannot see the episode description when in bulk edit mode, and it requires a lot of taps to repeatedly view the next description and then delete.

Federico Viticci:

Once you accept the barrier (imposed by Apple, not Arment) that every Overcast action has to be a pre-assigned shortcut rather than an arbitrary search command, controlling Overcast via voice is a remarkable experience. Media shortcuts kick off background audio playback in a couple of seconds (even if the app had been previously force quit), and other actions (such as chapter navigation or recommending an episode) execute reliably. Even better though, because shortcuts in iOS 12 can appear in multiple locations, this means you can set up custom shortcuts in the Shortcuts app to control Overcast from, say, a widget or through dictation without having to trigger them with a custom Siri phrase.

The first custom shortcut I created for Overcast is a simple menu that lets you choose whether you want to skip to the previous or next chapter in the episode you’re listening to. Because menus are natively supported in the Shortcuts widget, and because Overcast’s native shortcuts run in the background, you can just swipe over to the widget view while listening and navigate chapters without opening Overcast or talking to Siri.

Jason Snell:

For me, the best new feature of Overcast is the return of Apple Watch playback. The app previously made an attempt at supporting Apple Watch, but watchOS just wasn’t advanced enough to reliably transfer and keep playing audio. Now it is.

Update (2018-09-25): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast and Under the Radar.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Christopher Brandow

So, about the search bar, I discovered while reading this article that search, a feature I sent tweets and emails requesting already existed. I looked all over for it and couldn’t believe that Marco hadn’t included it.

I usually think about discovery as a problem that other people have.

Lesson learned again.

Pocket Casts is still the best iOS Podcast player IMHO.

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