There was a point in time where the phrase “podcast” wasn’t common vernacular. Only a scant few people could really “make it” in the podcast industry, often times using their already popular platforms to trumpet their show, leading to tons of listeners and large fanbases. But over time, people learned that anyone could start a podcast, gain a dedicated following, and be just as popular as mainstream celebrities. Because there are so many shows out there navigating them can be really difficult, but Overcast makes it a bit easier.
Currently, if you want to browse podcasts on a iPhone, you either do it manually through the web, use an assortment of apps, or buy and sync them directly through iTunes. But often times I long for a more streamlined way to get shows through an app with more than just a base level of functionality, and Overcast suits my needs for that purpose.
The UI is very minimal, and it won’t take you long to comprehend basically all of its features —within minutes, you’ll understand the basic gist. By clicking the ”+” icon in the corner, you can browse from genres like comedy and tech, as well as search for your own queries, or import your subscriptions via OPML. In other words, it’s a great way for new podcast listeners to find top shows and for dedicated users to find specialized programs—something the proprietary Apple app just never had. You do need to create an account with Overcast though, which thankfully only takes a few seconds and only requires a username and password.
What’s really cool about the actual playback interface is that it shows show notes, the show time, and all of your basic playback options seamlessly. Nothing ever feels too clunky or overbearing, and a simple click will get you everything you could possibly need. Playback also continues after minimizing the app, so you can listen while you do other activities.
The app is free at a base level, but unlocking all of its premium features will run you $4.99. Said features include cellular download capabilities, variable playback, voice boost, a sleep timer, and unlimited playlists. The coolest feature is probably the “Smart Feed” option, which shortens silence times and cuts off dead air.
What’s really cool about Overcast is that it doesn’t punish you for not paying for it. Unlike some other apps that have intrusive adds or take away basic functionality, it’s entirely feasible to run Overcast for free—if you like it, you can pay money for it. It’s a great model that I’d like to see employed more often.
The only major problem outside of a lack of displaying more popular channels is the lack of a cross-platform option—since there is currently no iPad or Mac client available. For now, you’ll have to deal with just listening to podcasts on your phone with Overcast.
Overcast is a great way to consolidate your podcasts in one easy to read place that offers more functionality than your average interface. While it’s far from the ultimately solution for podcast junkies that listen to shows all day long, it’ll suit pretty much everyone else out there, and then some.
Overcast is an iOS app that is free to download in the iTunes App Store.