If you’re an avid podcast listener, there’s really only one client for you – Overcast. It’s got all the pro features you’d want, fine tuned to the level of nerdery you’d expect from the guy who created Instapaper. But the thing is, Overcast was never perfect and some of its quirks (especially with the UI) got on my nerves pretty bad. But with this update, things are a lot better.
Overcast went completely free a couple of weeks back and introduced an optional patronage model. Features like Smart Speed and Voice Boost, that made the app popular were no longer hidden behind a $4.99 upgrade. But patronage was merely a way to support Marco Arment, the developer of the app. With version 2.5, that changes.
What’s In It?
If you’re a patron (patronage is $1/month), you get two new features. A sick dark mode and a new File Uploads feature. Both features can be enabled by going to “Patron Features” in Settings.
The dark mode is well done. It doesn’t just invert colors but creates an entirely new, soothing black and blue color scheme. Plus, the font is also changed from Concourse to Apple’s San Francisco.
Before you get your hopes up after reading the words file and uploads, let me tell you, it’s just that. And sadly, not much more at this point. From the website’s Uploads page, you can upload up to 2 GB of DRM-free audio files (limited to 250 MB per file).
From the web interface, you can only upload one file at a time and once they’re synced, they’ll be available in the “Uploads” menu from the app’s homescreen.
Sadly, this doesn’t make Overcast a robust audiobook player or even a “listen-later” service like Huffduffer (no RSS support here). While you can theoretically dump DRM-free audiobook files and try and play them one after the other, Overcast won’t help you build the files into a book or even let you create a playlist from selected files, let alone manage a queue. If you’re looking for such features, you’re better off using the Dropbox-based audiobooks app Bound.
Free For All
The free Overcast user still has tons to look forward to. First of all, Marco has finally fixed the two things that got on the nerves of most users (ok maybe it was just me).
• Batch Add/Delete All episodes for a podcast. (Finally!)
• The directory window now stays open after adding a podcast. (Finally!)
Finally! Indeed! No longer cursing the casting overlords when the podcast directory window suddenly disappears after you’ve added a podcast (or worse, just an episode).
On that note, here’s another delightful UI update:
• Tapping inactive episodes now adds them, rather than immediately playing them via streaming. (Tap again to play.) It’s a happy middle ground between the fast 1.0 interactions and the streaming capabilities in 2.0.
The legendary (to some) Overcast equalizer is gone and it now hides underneath the Pause button. Marco says it was “a significant battery drain.”
According to the charts he put up on his site (many of which are fascinating), Overcast 2.5 will keep talking for 2 more hours with the screen turned off and about an hour with the screen on compared to Apple’s Podcasts app.
Other new features include Marco-level obsessive tuning (it’s a good thing) of the Voice Boost feature for the iPhone speakers. Also, the sync is now much faster. Overcast 2.5 is a free upgrade for iPhone and iPad.