Overcast, the long-awaited podcast app from Instapaper developer Marco Arment, is finally on the App Store.
Firstly, I love the look and feel of the app. The UI is absolutely gorgeous. This alone might have been enough for me to switch from my app of choice (recently, Pocket Casts).
There are two tiers - the free version is ok if basic, and allows a time-limited trial of the premium features. It was enough to quickly persuade me that the premium features are definitely worth the £2.99 upgrade (I've paid more for several apps that don't even offer a free version).
This is an app that has clearly been developed with love and consideration to what podcast listeners actually want. It has some great features in the premium version:
- "Smart Speed" allows not just customisable increase to the playback speed, it suppresses silences for slightly faster playback. This works surprisingly well, and the playback speed range has detailed increments in the range you actually want to use (I never understood why developers put in anything much above 2x - I definitely want to speed up my playback in the interests of efficiency, but I don't want them all read by Pinky and Perky).
- Voice Boost is nice - a one-button hit to get full volume, voice EQ...never been quite sure exactly what is going on under the hood there, but it just sounds better.
- "Seek acceleration" - in addition to customisable increments to seek forward/back during playback (which most podcasts apps have), Overcast also offers "seek acceleration" which dynamically increases the seek increment during rapid seeks; this is, frankly, as cool as the other side of the pillow - I love thoughtful little things like this.
- There are several other small touches - for example "Allow cellular downloads" is where it should be - in the Downloads section, not squirrelled away in Settings; or instant AirPlay access from the Playback view, for throwing to your Apple TV or whatever; or the really easy links to the Show Notes for each podcast, with a "I" button for each.
There is also great social integration - which is of little consequence to me personally, but I suspect will be a hit with most users.
Anything not to like? Well, I'm not sure why I have to sign up for an account for this app - but I really don't mind, if it's going to sync all my casts across devices.
So yeah...Overcast is, on release day, my new favourite podcast app. I recommend you try it out.