Overcast – Best App for Listening & Managing Podcasts

Overcast – Best App for Listening & Managing Podcasts

Download Overcast (FREE!)

Today’s app is Overcast, a FREE universal app available for both the iPhone and iPad to play and manage podcasts.

What’s a podcast?

Think of your listening to your favorite radio show whenever you want to, from your mobile phone or computer.

But it’s not just commercial radio. Podcasts cover all kinds of topics, thousands of topics, on anything that interests you by all kinds of people – regular people, celebrities, consultants, lawyers, etc.

Podcasts have gotten so popular that even NPR releases some of their most popular shows as podcasts so you can listen on your own time.

The word is a “portmanteau” of “iPod” and “broadcast.” Apple’s iPod was in the right place at the right time when people started recording audio shows and making them available to download as MP3 files. People could download and listen to those MP3 files on their computers, but they wanted to listen to them while walking in the park, or cleaning the yard so they copied the MP3 files on to their iPods … and we called those recordings “podcasts.”

But you don’t HAVE to have an iPod to listen to podcasts! Any mobile phone can play MP3 files today.

Some folks tried to product-neutralize the term like the TWiT.tv network who experimented with calling them “netcasts” … but that didn’t catch on.

By 2005, Apple formally embraced podcasts by officially supporting them in the iTunes software. Today, iTunes is the most well-known podcast directory with a whole section devoted to finding whatever show fits your fancy.

In 2012, Apple released an official Podcasts app for the iPhone but it wasn’t that great. We who were serious about podcasts eschewed Apple’s app and tried other “podcatchers” such as Downcast or Instacast.

In July 2014, well respected app developer and Apple blogger, Marco Arment, released an innovative podcast app called Overcast.

And in February 2017, Marco released version 3.0 of Overcast with some interface refreshments and other engaging tweaks.

Overcast is free but you’ll see some ads in exchange for that price. But these aren’t just ANY ads – Marco was unhappy with the limited control he had over what Google Ads served to his app so he now creates his own ads.

You can choose to bypass ALL ads, AND support one of the most thoughtful iOS app developers on the planet by paying $9.99 a YEAR through an in-app purchase. It’s a small price to pay to keep the coding fires burning.

You’ll need to set up a free account at www.overcast.fm to use the app (you can set this up in the app). Marco explains this setup preserves your iPhone’s battery life because the servers are doing all the work in the background to keep your podcast subscriptions up to date. And you can log into your account at www.overcast.fm to play podcasts with some basic functions.

To add a podcast tap the plus sign in the upper right corner. You can add a specific URL if you know the feed address of your podcast, or I just usually search for the podcast name. If you don’t know what you want to listen to, there are several categories that offer some of the more popular shows.

But may I suggest starting off with a podcast from the Legal Talk Network such as The Digital Detectives  or the ABA Legal Rebels. Or check out The Law Entrepreneur with Neil Tyra.

Definitely check out the new Apps in Law podcast! I just posted the 4th episode with Jeff Richardson who authors the iPhone J.D. blog

When you tap on an episode with the newest upgrade in Overcast, a little drawer drops down below with buttons for:

  • Share
  • Star/Favorite
  • Play
  • Put in queue for a playlist or simply “Up Next”
  • Delete (trash can)

I’m sometimes choosy on which episodes of a podcast that I listen to, so I’ll tap the “info button” to open the show notes. Or if you have an iPhone 6s or 7, you can use 3D Touch to “peek” into the show notes or “pop” them open.

The “Now Playing” screen features a big honkin’ play/pause button on the bottom flanked by the 30-second Seek Back and Seek Forward buttons (you can change the time increment in the Settings).

On the top, you can swipe the podcast art to the left to reveal the shownotes.

Or swipe the podcast art to the right to reveal the most fabulous features of Overcast:

  1. First is the ability to speed up the playback. For some podcasts, I enjoy listening at their regular speaking speed. But for others I listen in half the time! The content is great, but time is precious. I don’t quite get to chipmunk speed, but I usually sit at 1 and a half times faster.
  2. Smart Speed shortens the silences in most shows. I don’t have time for awkward or dramatic pauses 🙂
  3. And Voice Boost normalizes the volume across a podcast and smooths out the voices so that one person isn’t LOUD and the other quiet.

Even better, these audio settings can be set up “custom for this podcast” so that I can have different settings for different podcasts.

In Settings, you can choose to download new episodes for your podcast subscriptions via wi-fi ONLY or over your cellular data plan.

The Settings offer some really nice tweaks for your podcast playing experience. One of my favorite areas is “Nitpicky Details” – at the bottom you get a little legend on how your headphone remotes will work to skip episodes or seek back or forth.

If you interested in listening to podcasts on your iPhone or iPad, do yourself a favor and download the FREE Overcast app. And don’t forget to add the Apps in Law podcast to your feed. Be sure to sign up at www.appsinlaw.com to be notified of new app reviews. You can also subscribe to this YouTube channel – thank you!

Download Overcast (FREE!)