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Seller: Overcast Radio
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Update! For a podcast app that used to put out a major upgrade with new features every year, Overcast has shifted tact, moving to monthly development cycles. However, as foreshadowed in our initial review, podcast apps’ ability to add new features seems to be slowing. So what does that mean for this popular podcatcher?
So what’s new? Now that Overcast pushes an update out monthly we largely see updates focus on bug fixes and ensuring the app continues to support the latest Apple hardware and software. For example, it has quickly optimized for AirPlay 2, improving its performance on HomePods, added Dark Mode, while the capability of clip sharing and customization per podcast continues to expand. For premium users paying a very reasonable $10/£10 a year, the reward is a solidly updated and upgraded piece of kit. For those happy with a few audio ads, its impressive feature list still marks it out as one of the best free options out there.
Revised rating: Still great. ★★★★½
Our original review, written in November 2018, is presented in its entirety below.
Have the stakes in the podcast player wars have been raised again with the release of version 5 of Overcast? A little.
While Apple’s own podcast app has always been relatively fit for purpose, the iPhone-maker does tend to forget about the platform it basically created for a few years before playing catch up to the independent players.
This is the reason many podcast devotees have switched to the likes of Castro or Overcast in the attempt to seek out new features and better episode management.
Overcast itself is one of the most independent – developed by a single guy, which is no doubt a big driver in its dedicated audience. Overcast was one of the first to introduce features like silence trimming and voice boosts. It gained an even bigger audience when it bravely went free a couple versions ago. However, its premium edition which costs $9.99/£8.99 a year is largely to go ad-free, and we wonder whether support is largely aimed at loyal, long-time users.
But back to version 5. Is there really that much more a podcast player can do now under Apple’s iOS? We’re not so sure. Overcast 5 is a solid update – maintaining its super-clean, well-laid out design that even the most overwhelmed of podcast listeners will find respite in – but in terms of new features, it is largely restrained.
In version 5 Apple Watch users will see the most benefits. Overcast has added new complications and plenty of support for controlling the app via Apple’s wearable.
However, Overcast’s value purely comes down to its wonderful juxtaposition of simple controls and interface, married with its incredibly customizable feature-set. Its key features remain setting notifications based on certain podcasts, changing settings per specific podcasts (which can be done easily within the player screen) and its powerful playlist capabilities. Its Smart Playlist function is great and gives the app the opportunity to put new podcasts into a playlist based on your what it things you’d most want to listen to.
The player has been spruced up too. It’s taken a card-based approached, no doubt influenced by Apple’s own approach, but also an element we’ve noticed close competitor Castro having previously employed. However, Overcast’s strong feature set is now easily accessible in its entirety from the screen you’ll spend most time in within the app. In practice this is very useful.
Elsewhere, its recommendation pane remains helpful as always, even employing recommendations from Twitter, as well as segmenting by familiar categories. This is great if you’re looking to discover new shows.
While Overcast version 5.0 isn’t a game-changer, its consistent updates and attention to new features over the years – both from its own mindset and inspired by Apple’s own ecosystem – will reassure any user in for the long-haul that Overcast is one of the best choices they can make.
- New features for Watch users
- Redesigned player puts features at heart of app
- It's not a groundbreaking release - but is there such a thing with podcast players these days?