What mobile app should you use to consume your favorite shows?
At the risk of dating myself, I come from the days of using the iTunes desktop app to subscribe and sync my podcasts to my iPod. It was a chore, but much like curating your music collection, being elitist about how amazing your vinyl sounds, or how everything should be encoded in FLAC, I took great pride in being a master of my podcast collection and built in time every week to download and sync my new shows. It was a regular occurrence, usually on Sunday’s.
Enter the iPhone & Apple Podcasts
The iPhone was out for quite some time before their Podcasts app began to hold sway, and Apple fully figured out how to integrate it with iTunes properly. It really hit its stride with iOS10, and became the go-to listening app for approximately 80% of the market share. As popular as the iPhone became, it was a gateway for people to discover podcasts, as the app was installed by default and curiosity drove a lot of people to see what this whole “podcasts” thing is all about.
I fully attribute that, along with a few other notable things, to the rise of podcasting we’ve seen in the last 2-3 years, but that’s a post for another day.
Unfortunately, the more people that started listening to podcasts, the more it began to expose some of the weaknesses of the Apple Podcasts app. At the same time, we began to see the rise of the 3rd party ecosystem with apps like Podbean, Stitcher, TuneIn, and my personal favorite…
At first glance, Overcast can be a little minimalist. But don’t let this fool you! Simply click the + in the top right corner and you instantly have access to everything listed on iTunes. Go through and search for your favorite shows and add them to your subscriptions. The way Overcast displays the shows and episodes is also fantastic. Once subscribed, when you launch the app, you’re presented with a full list of the shows you’ve sub’ed to, and a simple tap will get you immediately to the list of unplayed episodes.
Now that you’re listening to your favorites, let’s dive into the real sweet sauce of what makes Overcast awesome. Behind the curtains of Overcast is some pretty powerful tech, coded by creator Marco Arment (formerly of tumblr and instapaper), where you will find settings to stream or download, set “SmartSpeed” to a comfortable threshold, and a Vocal Boost option to smooth out and amp up the volume for that occasional show that might not have the gear or know-how to boost their volume. The beauty of this is that all of these settings can be configured either universally, or on a per-show a la carte basis. Some shows I listen to at 1.5x speed, and some audio dramas really need to be heard at their natural 1x speeds for the full effect.
Smart Playlists are also fantastic, as they let you bundle multiple episodes from multiple shows into a single playlist. Think of it as your own curated feed of all of your fav shows’ feeds! And Marco, if you’re reading this, I would love a way to be able to share this playlist publicly where other Overcast users could import it or add the playlist to their Overcast, similar to Spotify and their public playlists! (Thanks in advance!)
Overcast, for me, is the perfect podcast consumption app. Marco has really nailed it here. Apple’s Podcasts app recently committed seppeku with the iOS 11 update, trying to pull a Facebook and Twitter building in algorithms where they try to tell you what you should listen to, rather than just letting you listen to the shows you want to in simple chronological order.
Believe me, I get it. It’s hard to let go of the Apple app. It feels like its so ingrained, and borderline addictive. It feels like you’re cutting off a drug to leave it and switch to something different. But I can guarantee that you will not look back after giving Overcast a try for a week.
Challenge yourself to try something different and see what else is out there. I’m certainly glad I did!
Orbital Jigsaw was launched from Los Angeles in 2017 as a production company, encompassing a boutique hand-picked network of some of the top people in podcasting, their brands, and some amazing content across a myriad of genres. From TV & Film to History to True Crime and more, we’ve got at least one show you’re going to absolutely adore listening to on a regular basis! If you’re interested in joining in-depth discussion, request access to our exclusive Facebook Group: Orbital Jigsaw Podience
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