Writing by Timothy Buck

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Reviewing Overcast: a Better Podcast App

Reviewing Overcast: a Better Podcast App

I’ve been a regular podcast listener for nearly ten years now. When I think about it, that’s surprising to me, because podcasting only began to gain popularity around 2004 (Wikipedia). But over the past decade, podcasts have continually grown in importance, and they are now a daily source of interesting and insightful content for millions of people around the world, including me.

After using Apple’s Podcast app for a few years, I began searching for an alternative and found one called Overcast. Overcast is a podcast player created by Marco Arment, the developer of Instapaper, another one of my favorite apps. I really enjoy the mix of aesthetic beauty and technical superiority that Marco brings to his apps.

Purpose & Functionality

Overcast App Screenshots

Overcast includes all the basics you'd expect in a podcast app—a "store" to find and subscribe, a simple playback screen and a list of your podcasts. But it also brings a lot to the table that other podcast apps do not—"Smart Speed", "Voice Boost" and tons of other settings.

Overcast App Screenshots

"Smart Speed" increases the speed of your podcasts by "dynamically shorten[ing] silences." This leads to a more lifelike sound than the typical 1.5x or 2x speed (Overcast.fm).

"Voice Boost," on the other hand, makes the speaker's voice more clear and "normalize[s] volume so every show is loud, clear, and at the same volume" (Overcast.fm).

Overcast also supports setting a sleep timer, saving settings for each podcast individually, controlling the app from your headphones and creating playlists.

Overcast App Screenshots

Rating: simplicity, usefulness, beauty and necessity

  • Simplicity. (8/10) Overcast is pretty simple overall, but its addition of more detailed settings adds some complexity that other podcast apps may not have.
  • Usefulness. (10/10) Podcasts are incredibly useful sources of knowledge, and Overcast provides a seamless and enjoyable way to consume them. It's an app I use nearly every day.
  • Beauty. (9/10) My favorite design aspect of Overcast is the real-time audio graph that is displayed throughout the app while any podcast is playing.
  • Necessity. (8/10) If you're new to podcasts, start out with the free version of Overcast, but as you begin to use the app more and more, I'd suggesting spending a few dollars for the premium version. The additional functionality is worth the cost.
  • Stickiness. (9/10) Overcast has become a vital app for me. I use it all the time, and I really think you'll want to keep it on your phone as much as I do.

Alternatives

You can download Overcast for iOS from the Apple App Store.

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