To help me get through my days, staring at pixels on a computer screen, I listen to a lot of podcasts. For the last few weeks, I have been bouncing back and forth between three different podcast apps for my iPhone: Overcast (Free, unlocked all features $4.99), Pocket Casts ($4.99, for iPhone/iPad or Android) and Instacast ($1.99). Why would I have three podcast apps installed at once? I was trying to figure which one I actually prefer.
Each app offers a similar experiences and all are an improvement from Apple’s default Podcast app. After futzing around with all three, I found myself deleting Instacast first as it was the least intuitive feeling to me. It was the first podcast app I purchased after I became annoyed with the Apple Podcast app and the first to fall short for me. I love the looks of Pocket Casts but in the end, despite aesthetic superiority, there were a few things that forced it out of the running.
I’ll cut to the chase and tell you which one I prefer and why.
Overcast is my favorite podcast app at the moment, though I still find myself stumbling around the app a little. Here’s a few reasons why I’ve chosen it over the others.
- Overcast has feature to speed up the podcast. It helps to shorten pauses in speech and make a podcast a bit more brisk. Very handy. Audio can also be sped up a lot which sounds like everyone had WAY too much coffee, but not like Mickey Mouse. Overcast also has an EQ voice booster which helps podcasts that may not have the best sound quality.
- There is a web-based interface which lets me listen to podcasts at my computer rather than on my phone at work. It spares my data plan, phone battery and I only have to subscribe to the podcast once (not have to maintain an additional subscription in iTunes for desktop listening). Playlists don’t carry over to the site but being able to listen to podcasts in my wi-fi-free office without getting throttled by AT&T is excellent.
- I like that I can adjust the quick forward and quick back buttons. They are clear to understand and easy to use. Some of the other apps have the double arrows associated with fast forward and rewind which are less clear to me that I’m jumping 15 or 30 seconds in a podcast. I don’t often need to rewind a podcast all the way back to the beginning.
- Under “Playback” there is a sleep timer and/or play episodes continuously or one-by-one.
- Overcast is free. I appreciate that Overcast is willing to offer this app for free to entice people to try it and listen to more podcasts. When they find the app useful and easy to use, users can unlock all features for $4.99. I upgraded the app immediately.
- Overcast uses Twitter to recommend podcasts based on what people you follow are subscribing to. The more people who use Overcast, the more recommendations. It seems a lot of my followers/folks I follow listen to the Pen Addict and Erasable. I’m shocked!
- In the download queue, there is a switch to toggle between using cellular data for downloads and not. Which is handy that’s it’s not buried in a preferences or settings menu somewhere.
- My one big gripe is I wish that sliding to the left would provide a “mark all as played” option. I keep deleting podcasts thinking I am deleting an episode.
The more I use Overcast, the more I like it. If you haven’t tried any podcast app other than the Apple Podcast app, I recommend trying Overcast. If you have your own favorite podcast app, please leave a note in the comments.
5 comments / Add your comment below
What the hell is a podcast?
Great review. I’m loving the app, got it the day it came out. Already saved 5+ hours with Smart Speed alone. 😉
And I agree with your last point about marking episodes “listened” or “played.” It’s not always visually clear how that’s done or hot to best manage it.
Great review and thanks for doing all the reviews to save me the time of looking through 600 itunes hits on their search for Podcasts! Downloaded Done!
I know you’ve done some guest podcasts–can you post a list of them/links to (or point me to them if I’m missing it). Thanks 🙂
Instacast was my favourite for a long time, it just works flawlessly and the way it handles show notes and syncing between Mac & iPhone is great. I am currently trying Castro and liking it a lot, but it doesn’t do video podcasts. It’s great though as a simple easy to use and manage podcast app.
I tried Overcast, installed and then removed it twice! Cannot stand the icon, and it’s too convoluted to use IMO. Has a nice speed-up feature which is great though and I love the twitter integration. Maybe with a few updates the interface quirks will be ironed out and I could always just hide the app in a folder so I don’t see the icon! :p