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Do You Use It? Podcast Apps

Podcasts featured prominently in TidBITS last week due to Apple’s addition of podcast transcripts in iOS 17.4 (see “iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 Add Podcast Transcripts, Fix Zero-Day Vulnerabilities,” 6 March 2024) and the sponsorship of Listen Later, which converts articles into personal podcast episodes (see “Text-to-Podcast Service Listen Later Sponsoring TidBITS,” 11 March 2024).

Transcripts are available only in Apple Podcasts, whereas Listen Later creates a podcast feed you can listen to in any podcast app. That caused me to wonder if Apple’s Podcasts app has gotten good enough that third-party podcast apps are no longer as attractive as they once were.

So, this week’s Do You Use It? poll asks, what is your preferred podcast app? Or do you not listen to podcasts at all? In the comments, please tell us what you like about your favorite, and if you chose Other, let us know what it is.

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Comments About Do You Use It? Podcast Apps

Notable Replies

  1. I use Overcast as—in general—I find it less clumsy than Apple Podcasts and a little easier to use, especially with CarPlay.

    I say “in general” because Overcast is still a little glitchy when it is trying to play a podcast that must be downloaded first. But, when I’m traveling I’d rather roll down my window and listen to the passing wind than try to deal with Apple Podcasts.

    Of course, just my personal preference. :slight_smile:

  2. My preference for Overcast stems primarily from the accompanying web site. I listen to podcasts frequently in both my car and my office (continuing where I left off from one to the other), and afaik, there’s no equivalent Apple capability. That and there’s just a certain simplicity and elegance to Overcast that really appeals to me.

  3. I switched to Downcast from Apple Podcasts because I strongly dislike apps that try to push new “content” at me, rather than prioritizing the content that I already have subscribed to. When I open a podcast app, I want to go directly to my subscription list at least 99% of the time, rather than seeing ads for other podcasts.

    When I decided to move away from the Apple Podcasts app, I tried several alternatives, including Pocket Casts, Overcast, and Downcast. Eventually, I chose Downcast. That was a couple of years ago, so I don’t remember my specific thoughts about the other apps. My general impression was that Downcast gave me very quick and direct access to my actual subscriptions without having to click through screens trying to push other content at me, and it provides extensive preference settings to choose from. Subjectively, it just seems to work the way I want it to work.

  4. ??? I’m pretty sure that Apple’s Podcasts app syncs between instances of itself (macOS, iOS, etc.) via your iCloud login. I know this because I found it frustrating - I don’t want my car and desktop auto-synced with eachother.

  5. I’ve been using Overcast since it debuted, I think. The file-upload feature was, and continues to be, a big draw for me, along with Smart Speed. I’m pretty sure file uploading has always been a feature. I don’t remember if Smart Speed was there from the start or added later, so I can’t remember if that was one of the reasons I chose to use it in the first place. But I know now that I wouldn’t want to use a podcast app that didn’t have it.

  6. I own Pocket Casts, Downcasts and Overcast.

    I found managing the stream of material in Overcast to be too much.

    Downcast has the best management to multi stranded streams of Podcasts into relevant playlists. But again I spent too much time managing specifying how many episodes to keep and my phone kept filling up. Enough.

    Pocket Casts matched me best, the speed and trimming controls, syncing position across devices, plays video podcasts and it is so easy to set up on the fly playlists. And it runs on the web… I use that surprisingly often.

  7. Yeah, poorly worded on my part. I meant Apple doesn’t support any web access to your current list of subscribed podcasts (again, afaik). Overcast does. I already have my browser running; I don’t want to launch and quit Podcasts to get the same information.

  8. When it comes to podcasts, I think in Overcast. I use it every day. I used Downcast before Overcast, but switched to Overcast because of its smart speed and voice boost features. Before Downcast, I used Pocketcasts on Android, and before that I used iTunes syncing to an iPod - that was really the last time I used “Apple” podcasts, though I did use the app once for a video episode, since Overcast doesn’t do video.

    Besides smartspeed and voice boost, for me a podcast app must have a way to make certain podcasts a priority so that they automatically get added to the top of the queue when they are downloaded. Most of my podcasts are not really time-limited, but some I want to hear as soon as new episodes are released. They get pushed to the top and the rest wait until the priority episodes are done. Downcast also did that, which is why I used it when I first switched to the iPhone.

    I do like and use the upload feature of Overcast as well, but that is limited to subscribers rather than free users of the app.

    Lastly, Overcast’s watch app is decent and works fine for the few times I go out for a run or a walk when I am not carrying my phone (which is basically any time it is raining) and is also usually fine a s remote control for the phone, so I can control the app without taking the phone out of my pocket. Overcast is supposed to sync with the phone and download a certain number of episodes in a playlist of your choice when you charge, but also has a clever method to download to the watch on demand which includes playing a game of breakout, which is required as the watch will stop allowing an app to download data on battery unless the app is actively being used. (And just as a tip, downloads are faster if you disable Bluetooth temporarily on the phone so that the watch uses WiFi - it’s a lot faster than downloading from the phone using BT.) And, of course, the watch app is pretty good about syncing state back to the phone when you are done, though sometimes I need to do so manually.

  9. I like Pocket Casts. I listen to podcasts on my iPhone, but I like having a Mac client so that when I read about an interesting podcast, I can subscribe right there, and it appears on my iPhone. It is being updated moderately frequently.

    I have one niggling complaint about the UI. When I select a group of podcasts to perform an action on them, like downloading them, the selection is undone at the end of the command; I’d prefer that it retain the selection so I can do another group action, like adding them to the Up Next list.

  10. I don’t listen to podcasts; I prefer to read. If there are transcripts of podcasts now I may take a look at them.

  11. I’ve used PocketCasts for years. No complaints. But with the new transcripts I’ll be trying Apple Podcasts again.

  12. I use Apple’s Podcasts, but rarely. Mostly I listed to AudioBooks, primarily via BorrowBox from my local library.

  13. I use Pocket Casts on my iPhone because when I started listening to podcasts, I asked a good friend what she used (also on an iPhone) and that’s the app she used. Since she was quite proficient with the app, she saved me from what might have otherwise been a somewhat steep learning curve. I tend to stick with what I know or get used to, so I’ve not tried other podcast apps to compare them. My needs are relatively simple, so Pocket Casts seems to do the trick for me.

  14. I looked at a few podcast transcriptions from Apple’s Podcast app, but the ones I looked at did not distinguish between the various people speaking in the podcasts. Having a transcript certainly is better than not having one, but it loses significant value if it does not distinguish “Speaker A” from “Speaker B” and so on. If it’s a lengthy podcast with three or more participants, it’s very challenging to keep track of the conversation without going back to the audio. It’s not a trivial problem, but I imagine that eventually it will be solved.

    On the other side of the coin, there are podcast production apps that keep track of different audio inputs (e.g., microphones or caller channels) and label them appropriately when they generate transcriptions. While not a podcast app per se, Zoom does a good job of transcribing speech from multiple callers. They’re definitely not perfect, but I’ve found Zoom call transcripts to among the most useful manifestations of AI tech in my daily work.

  15. I use Overcast for audio podcasts and Apple’s app for video. I like to keep them separate because I do a lot of listening in the car & want that to be audio only.

  16. I want to use Snipd. But it needs a couple of features before I can use it more than occasionally, namely importing individual episodes from Apple Podcasts links, and better export to Obsidian.

  17. I’ve been very happy using Overcast for several years now. Somehow it just seems easier to use than Apple Podcasts.

  18. I fully admit the only time I looked at the Apple Podcasts app was when it was first released, and I immediately hated it with a passion. I paid for Downcast for both Mac and iOS, and have\b’t looked back.

  19. I use BBC Sounds as well as Apple as a number of BBC podcasts don’t seem to make it to Apple. I find both easy to use. I also had a podcast a few years ago (66 episodes) and had many more listeners there than any other podcast channel.

  20. In the early days of podcasts, I enjoyed a couple radio shows distributed that way. As they went away, I find podcasts just a huge waste of my time. Judging from the commercials I occasionally see for podcasts, I’m convinced I made the right decision.

  21. If there was ever an app that suffered from an impoverishment of marketing (especially relative to its richness of well designed features) it’s Pocket Casts. Its mental model is more or less exactly how most people would expect to use podcasts and it works great. It’s beautifully iOS native. It’s well maintained and for years and years has remained essentially bug free. And yet hardly anyone I know uses it. I’ve tried em all and it’s far and away the best.

    That said, Listen Later is very tempting and I’ll be giving it a shot, though my last experience with Apple Podcasts, which was my player of choice for years, was really frustrating. Have they fixed the way the queue in Apple Podcasts works yet? That was always fundamentally broken.

  22. Started with Apple’s podcast app where I heard about Overcast, tried it and never went back! Much prefer Overcast because of its Smart Speed — it’s saved me 426 hours and Voice Boost.

  23. Downcast. Chief reason is that it has no back end (server) component; it’s all on-device (and, optionally, on iCloud). It lacks a few little features–smart speed and voice boost–neither of which I’ve found particularly essential. Major gripe is iCloud syncing issues unless you’re very careful, but then, iCloud is a major gripe no matter what because of Apple’s silly rate-limiting nonsense. Many buttons and knobs to push in the app, a real power tool, permits footgun if not careful but also control, e.g. to mass download episodes, precisely control the playback queue, import media files, and so on. One-time purchase on each platform (Mac and iOS), long-term bliss. Love it.

    Before that I was on Apple Podcasts. Yes it is mediocre in the extreme, no doubt about that, but it’s hard to argue with the strong platform integration (especially if you use HomePod) or listen to paid podcasts. I could never vilify it as much as some others have, even though its (non-optional) analytics collection and tight Apple Podcasts directory storefront integration irked me intensely, and it had a long and inglorious history of syncing issues. It also has fewer options for handling media files (no multiple-selection of items or import/export or storage outside its sandbox which was not the case for iTunes), and there is no (direct) support for importing/exporting podcast subscriptions either. So it’s basically a platform play. Nevertheless it does work and I’ll not take issue with peoples’ choices to use what works.

  24. I use Apple Podcasts on my Mac and Overcast on my iPhone with roughly equal time on both. Why don’t I use Overcast exclusively now that I can run it under macOS? Good question and I don’t have an answer. As Preet Bharara says “Stay Tuned”.

    I also use BBC Sounds app on iPhone but just for one podcast, In Our Time.

  25. Does BBC Sounds even count as a podcast app? I mean, no notifications, no way to view only unlistened podcasts, etc. It’s only a “podcast” because The Beeb says so.

  26. Been using Downcast for ages; don’t see any reason to change.

  27. The only podcast I listen to is Sam Harris’s, and that just while I have a nice long straight razor shave. I get it straight (pun intended) from his website.

  28. Hi, I use iCatcher which has sometimes a litte strange interface but until now I have not found another podcast manager with so many features.


  29. You can get In Our Time in any podcast app. I listen to it in Overcast.

  30. I’m a stick-in-the-mud still running iTunes (12.9.5) on macOS Ventura.

    As I’ve probably mentioned several times in these forums, I have yet to find a suitable replacement that meets my needs.

    Being an information junkie (“the first step is admitting you have a problem”) I’ve accumulated thousands of podcasts and videos containing information in various areas of interest to me (along with some entertainment, of course). iTunes continues to serve as a ‘database’ manager’ for such media. It also allows me to manually add media files that are not available thru normal ‘podcast’ channels. Smart playlists serve as the tool to query the database to find media related to whatever topical information I’m seeking. Part of the equation is adding ‘show notes’ to the (long) description field, and/or adding ‘tags’ in the Comments fields.

  31. Yes but the BBC makes the current episode freely available on BBC Sounds. So far as I can tell, the podcast app versions are delayed for week or more unless you pay a subscription.

  32. I switched to Overcast years ago after getting fed up with Apple Podcasts.

    Since Tesla has added direct support for Apple Podcasts in their car OS, I have now (sorta) switched back to Apple so that the phone and car stay in sync.

  33. I rarely use Spotify for anything, but I am surprised that no one has mentioned using Spotify for podcasts.

    I wonder if TidBITS readers think of Spotify as a music app, rather than a more general media app, or if TidBITS readers tend not to use it at all.

    (There was a time I used Spotify for music, but I’ve drifted away from it.)

  34. I’m really happy with Downcast. I adopted it before Overcast came out. I tried Apple Podcasts in the strange reel-to-reel tape UI days and it didn’t serve me well (even though I was one of those people that had actually used that kind of tape). I did try Overcast when it came out because so many people liked it, but I ended up preferring Downcast’s way of doing things. IIRC, I started listening to podcasts on my iPod touch and I still work with podcasts the same way today: never streaming, always downloaded from Wi-Fi and played from device. For this kind of use, Downcast is excellent. Which reminds me, it’s time to send them a tip in the app (since they do not charge any kind of ongoing fee).

  35. I use Apple Podcasts on iOS, mainly in the car. I don’t actively manage a whole bunch of podcasts, mainly to listen to the Mac Admins pod every week. I guess I used to devote more time to pods, when I commuted to work more frequently. I feel like it could be organized way better, and easier to find what I want to catch up with. The biggest issue I have with it is that podcasts frequently jump forward or backwards arbitrarily in the timeline, and it’s a real PITA when you’re driving. To be fair, it seems to be happening less often, but did happen just this morning, so…

  36. I use Overcast. For what it is worth, while building Listen Later, I’ve ran into numerous odd bugs in every podcast app. For example Overcast gets confused if a podcast feed has two episodes with the same title. The newer one never gets displayed. It also requires a title to show the episode. If you enter a dummy custom podcast URL for testing purposes, the Overcast server seemingly tries to fetch it forever. I am curious when it will stop. :slight_smile:

    You can add a custom podcast URL to Apple podcasts only once. If you delete it, you cannot add it again. As a workaround, I add a random string to the URL to trick the app. After the latest iOS update, the app also cannot stream Listen Later podcast episodes although every other app can. (Something I still have to fix. )

    Side note, the number one feature I want to add to EVERY music, podcast even browser app… basically to ANY app that stores and displays lists. PUT THE LAST ITEM I ADD TO THE LIST, TO THE TOP OF THE LIST. :slight_smile:

    Every app I use fails in this, there is no exception. The latest song I put to my playlist goes to the bottom of my playlist as the 159th song. You gotto be kidding me.

    At times I want to apply for jobs at Apple, Google only so that I can implement this feature in the apps I use and then quit. :slight_smile:

    OK. My rant is over. I’ll see myself out. :slight_smile:


  37. Ditto all that. I’ve tried them all and prefer Downcast.

  38. The main reason I picked Pocket Casts years ago was that it was easier to listen to podcasts from older to newer. I think that has gotten easier with other apps since then, but I’m too lazy to try something new.

  39. Well, to be fair, Spotify only became a podcast app later, after being best known as a long-established player in music streaming.

    Amazon Music is also a podcast app, in the same way. I know this because they can’t get enough of telling me, in ads served by Acast-hosted podcasts, that as a Prime member I’m entitled to listen to many podcasts ad-free. A shame then—or maybe not—that Amazon Music is a total crock of an app in every conceivable way. After that, I’ll gladly take the ads!

  40. I used Overcast for years, but switched to Castro because it has a better sleep timer user interface.

    Yes, the sleep timer. It’s important.

    I listen to podcasts at night, in bed, as a way to fall asleep. The critical difference between Overcast’s and Castro’s sleep timer UX is, you have to open your eyes to extend the timer in Overcast, but you can do it with your eyes closed (without touching your phone at all) in Castro.

    IMHO, the overall interaction design for the sleep timer in Castro is genius. It’s not merely what’s visible on screen, it’s the overall behavior, interaction with headset controls, and so on that make it basically perfect.

  41. I’ll add a vote for the podcast avoidance team.

    They’re inherently inaccessible. Even if there’s a transcript at the website, transcripts are hard to read. Spoken language is different from written language, given even a halfway competent writer.

    They’re inefficient. The signal to noise ratio is poor, with repetitive introductions and transitions, and chit chat about subjects unrelated to the actual topic. Unlike text, there’s no random access at all. I can read at least five times faster than I can listen to speech–with greater comprehension and retention.

    They lock up information in unfindable silos. This can be mitigated with transcripts at the podcast site, and with luck that will improve in the future, but I doubt that many pre-existing podcasts will be brought up to date that way.

  42. FWIW, I listen to podcasts while I am exercising, driving my car, doing yard work and similar activities, like painting. These are all times when I cannot read. I’d rather listen to podcasts than music most of these times.

    [edit] I’ll add that I have tried audiobooks in the past, but they are just not for me. When I read, I need to read, not listen. I don’t process information said to me the same way as I do information I read. Podcasts work for me.

  43. I use Apple Podcasts. I haven’t investigated anything other than Amazon’s, and what made me stick with Apple was the ability to change what speed I listen to the podcasts at. I listen to podcasts at double speed. Any audio books I listen to at 1.5 speed. Maybe I’m impatient, but being able to listen at a faster speed is important. Also, I can sort the unplayed podcasts however I like and they get deleted after I listen to them. I don’t need anything beyond that.

  44. I switched to Overcast because I discovered that I could change playback speed. It seemed easier to choose podcasts I wanted to listen to, I could stack up different numbers of podcasts from different casters.

  45. I use Overcast. When I started listening to podcasts around 5 years ago it was news pods in the Swedish Public Service radio app SR Play, which was a horrible experience.

    So I tried Apples app. It was ok, but when Tidbits wrote about problems with the app not deleting old pods (or whatever, getting bloated), I searched an Overcast got good reviews so I switched.

  46. I have a rant about Spotify: Podcasting is traditionally recognized as an open and permissionless platform. However, Spotify restricts the addition of custom URLs to their application, a move that contradicts the foundational principles of podcasting. This behavior positions Spotify unfavorably within the podcasting community, and I recommend considering alternative applications for podcasting purposes. Their stance is particularly disappointing considering Spotify’s vocal criticisms of Apple’s App Store policies, coupled with their advocacy for openness. Yet, they impose restrictions on their own application that prevent users from adding custom podcast feeds. It would be beneficial for Spotify to align their practices with the principles they publicly endorse.

    Rant over. :slight_smile:

  47. The main reason I use Overcast over Apple’s Podcasts is that the Apple app doesn’t track your listening history the same way in CarPlay as it does in regular standalone mode, even on the same device. So I can’t seem to cue up a queue ( :wink: ) of episodes on my phone and then have it play when I get into the car, or pick up where I left off after the drive is done.

    (I tend to binge a selection of episodes at arbitrary intervals rather than subscribing and listening in the “correct” order; Apple Podcasts might be fine if I were a more consistent listener.)

    Overcast is the same in both CarPlay and handheld mode, which works better for my unusual use case. And I do like the UI a little better, too.

  48. While your criticisms are entirely valid from a structural point of view, I think I’d consider podcasts simply a different type of media. Most television shows suffer from exactly the same problems you outline. And as @ddmiller says, there are times when reading simply isn’t possible.

    Of course, the vast majority of podcasts are lousy—see Sturgeon’s Law. Tonya jokingly used to call podcasting “blathering into the Internet.” But there are some that are impressively produced, informative, and enjoyable—shining examples of the genre. I’ve become utterly hooked on the A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs podcast, for instance, which I’ll be listening to and learning from for years.

  49. … which my grandfather used to cite with his own twist:

    90% of everything is garbage, including 90% of the other 10%.

    Sort of a Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox applied to the task of identifying something that isn’t garbage.

    But WRT the podcasts that I listen to, they are all news/commentary podcasts. Most are recordings of radio shows (or are produced to resemble radio shows). I download them because I rarely have the time to listen to these shows live (including commercials, local news, traffic, etc., the four podcasts I follow would end up consuming about 8 hours a day).

    But I can download them, which eliminates the local radio stations’ insertions (still some ads, but not as many, and no other insertions), bringing the total time down to about 5.5 hours a day. Which I then listen to at double-speed. Which brings the content down to a manageable 3 hours a day.

    Which I can play while doing other things (driving, household chores, playing games or reading news/blog articles).

  50. I switched to overcast after I saw how much memory the Podcasts app was using. Wasn’t sure what was causing it. Also, I really liked the earlier, simpler-to-use instantiation of the Podcast app.

    Someone noted glitchiness of Overcast, and I’ve experienced that too.

  51. Another vote for Overcast: he got me at the inception with Smart Speed. I do think Marco’s UI decision to separate settings out into two different strands is too complicated though: when listening to a podcast, to manage that subscription is in a completely different place: particularly for the intro or outro skip, when (I think! not being a successful developer!) the logical place to set this would be while actually in that episode. And vice-versa: when managing a subscription, you can’t set speed etc.

    These are minor annoyances: it tends to be my most-used iPhone app. The Watch integration is very good (that the iPhone “steals” the AirPods connection back is Apple’s problem), and the Catalyst app are great. I probably should check out the competition but what problem would I actually be fixing…? I can answer my own question: as a Tesla owner, Apple Podcasts is now in the car, whereas I use Overcast via Bluetooth. But, as someone who listens to 99% of podcasts in the order downloaded (for me, the essential randomness is a feature), I nearly always press play, and that’s it.

  52. I use Apple Podcasts mainly because I’m lazy, it’s free, it’s already there. The new transcript feature is nice — I won’t use it much, but it beats trying to track a transcript down somewhere else. The biggest thing I don’t like about Apple Podcasts is the limited control I have over the queue. I listen at 1.5x speed, primarily when I run or walk and I prefer to listen to one or two episodes of various podcasts. Apple Podcasts is forever queueing up sequential episodes of a particular podcast and I have yet to figure out how to unqueue those and/or how to stop Apple Podcasts from doing that.

  53. I have been using Overcast for a long time and have always been befuddled by its UI. It originally had a 2D interface where you could swipe horizontally or vertically and occasionally swiping horizontally would turn into a vertical swipe. Newer versions are slightly better, in my opinion.

    My criterion for a good UI is whether I could explain it over a phone to someone having trouble. Frankly, I would have no ability to do that with Overcast, though the same could be said about many other iOS apps. The Mac is intrinsically easer to use due to its fairly standard menu bar layout. iOS has no such uniformity.

    I like the flexibility of the speed changing screen. Also, for my simple needs, I am used to the UI and it doesn’t get in the way for the most part.

    I have frequent hangs on both the Mac implementation and the iOS version when trying to download media. It always requires a force quit to restore its normal behavior.

  54. I do not listen to podcasts except for occasional weekend afternoons when my local public radio station (KNPR) broadcasts some — or perhaps I should say “uses them in lieu of actual original news content to fill its valuable air time.” I can instantly identify these podcasts by the way that they seem to be drawn out rather than getting to the point, and by the presence of background music. :unamused:
    Sorry for the digression.

  55. I’m a longtime paid Overcast user and have been happy with it. Until yesterday—when for no apparent reason I lost most of my data on all devices.

    My podcast list is intact but all the undeleted episode history is gone—both played and unplayed episodes that had been present in the interface are now gone. “All Episodes” is empty, as are the contents of all the custom playlists.

    If I re-download episodes they appear again in the episodes lists. But with no record of the episodes history left I have no guide to manually reconstruct the longtime history I had intentionally preserved.

    I’m not aware of any Overcast backup scheme for situations like this. I wrote to the developer to ask if there’s a way to recover from this and restore the previous state. I have not gotten a reply (also true a few times in the past when I’ve asked for support).

    Not sure if I can trust Overcast again after this, so this discussion is timely as I consider other options.

    If I hear back from Marco I will update this comment.

  56. I switched from apple to overcast years ago I think mainly because my wife and I shared the same Apple ID and the iCloud sync was clashing my bookmarks with hers. Plus I think overcast had some features I liked but I can’t remember what they were.

    Now we have separate Apple IDs, and I switched back recently because Apple’s feature set has improved.

    But there’s another reason which is sharing links. I despise that sharing a link to a podcast is app specific. This is a horrible state of the podcast industry. Imagine if you sharing a link to a web page required them to install the browser you use. But that’s what we have for podcasts because each provider has their own copy of the library. So if I wanted to share a link before with my wife, she would have gotten an overcast link. Not helpful. Same with me sharing links on FB.

    Apple being more ubiquitous reduces that friction. It also reduces friction by not requiring me to make sure I have a third party app installed everywhere I want to listen.

    And a third reason. I started listening to Apple News+ audio news. Those are now available in the Apple podcast app, reducing yet more friction.

    Long live a low friction lifestyle!

  57. Umm… Family Plan, deep into liked/shared music + lots of podcasts. Standalone apps seem either too difficult to learn or too much to manage.

  58. A family that uses a mix of Apple, Windows, and/or Android products might use exactly those same words to explain why they use Spotify.

  59. The aspect of media that I value most is “dismissability.” I give the media my attention, but I ration my time. You can’t skim podcasts, TikToks, and other attention traps.
    Don O’Shea, retired GaTech prof.

  60. Or any time-based media. I wonder as AI tools now start to scan such forms, providing summaries with timestamps, whether our apps will shift again.

    I do enjoy the serendipity of stumbling upon ideas and writers I hadn’t known from podcasts warbling away as I prep meals or drive. My attention can be divided usefully at times but I’ve also had to relearn letting podcasts wash over me and let them go, much as old radio did. Just because we can control playback doesn’t always mean we should.

  61. Not sure what you mean by skim, but you can play them at whatever speed you like and you can skip forward and back. And you certainly don’t have to be in a mode that starts playing other content that you didn’t request.

    Podcasts would appear to be ideal candidates for the “dismissability” criterion.

  62. How about your iPhone backup?

    Or, can you log into a web browser with your overcast ID?

  63. I get all your points.

    My conclusion is different. They’re one tool in the toolbox, not inferior. Good luck reading an article while you’re driving. Or working. Or doing the dishes.

    Written articles often start with lots of background never getting to the point. Not the same level of chit chat BS on podcasts but still. And I have magic buttons to skip past that content.

    In web pages it’s a constant fight to block ads. Again easy with podcasts.

    I do like to copy paste quotes so the transcription feature may solve that problem.

    On the other hand, sometimes I can get Safari to read me web articles. But it’s not a great workflow. I haven’t figured out how to queue up a playlist of reading my favorite articles, something inherent with podcast subscriptions.

    My forecast is that over time the two will converge as they are already doing.

  64. Thanks, but the sync database must have gotten corrupted because Overcast has the same missing data on all devices.

    I never heard back from Marco, the developer, disappointing to say the least.

    Sorry to say it, but after the major data loss and the complete lack of support (as I’ve experienced in the past) I don’t see how I can trust Overcast again.

    Back to Apple Podcasts for now and considering other options.

  65. In poll results, Adam cites this as a strong reason for using Overcast. I used Overcast for years with this feature, and I didn’t see the value. I don’t recall any podcasts that had moments of silence that were worth speeding past. Maybe there are some out there, but I don’t think I can remember a single one. It sounds cool. But has anyone actually observed a noticeable difference?

    Changing the overall speed I find to be much more useful, because they’re pretty much always talking, and some talk a lot slower than I need to follow along.

  66. “Smart Speed has saved you an extra 483 hours beyond speed adjustments alone.”

    Too bad there is no “you have listened to Overcast xxxx hours.”

  67. Yea so this comes back to the question of what is this audio material with all this empty space? I do see that mine claims some saved hours.

    Anyway, I don’t have the feature now, never noticed it doing anything, and don’t miss it. And now we have granular enough control over speed to make it usable, which I think saves me a lot more time than speed boost.

    But not being able to share episodes easily is a much bigger ticket item for me, along with the other features I noted :white_check_mark:

  68. Pocket Casts also offers Speed Comtrols and Trim Silence, globally as well as podcast specific.

  69. I am surprised that nobody seems to have mentioned the most annoying of all Apple podcast bugs: the inability to (manually) delete podcasts. This popped up years ago and apparently never got fixed. My mom still has the bug on her iPhone but she doesn’t care. It was the reason why I switched to Overcast.

  70. For all its failings, I still listen to podcasts using wireless headphones as I putter around the house using the tried and true iTunes. It runs on an old Mac mini connected to a tv running Sierra, and its only purpose is to play podcasts and music. I’ve found iTunes has the cleanest appearance and is easiest to choose the podcast I want to hear on the fly. That said, I’ll take a second look at these apps and see if I like them better.

  71. Yes. Every day.

  72. Another thing I liked about iTunes versus the newer Apple Podcasts app on the Mac is that iTunes uses human-readable filenames in an accessible place vs obscure filenames in a hidden location.

    iTunes stores Podcasts in a subfolder of the iTunes folder, alongside your music library, and it retains the original name of the podcast series and episodes. For example, if there were a podcast series called “Totally Awesome TidBITS Podcast Series” and it had an episode called “Do You Use It? Podcast Apps,” you could find the file in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Podcasts/Totally Awesome TidBITS Podcast Series/Do You Use It? Podcast Apps.mp3

    In contrast, Apple Podcasts stores podcast files in a subfolder of the hidden ~/Library/Group Containers/ folder, and the filenames are character strings that have no relation to the name of the podcast series/episode.

    The iTunes approach makes it easy to find a podcast file and move/copy it for other purposes, while the Podcasts approach shouts, “Keep out!”

  73. I have my own beef with Spotify. My podcast suddenly disappeared from it. When I asked my provider (Libsyn) why this might be, they investigated and said it was because I only had a few minutes of speech (it’s a blues podcast) and Spotify insists on a bigger speech-to-music ratio. Is that because a music podcast is seen as a competitor? Seems that way …

  74. Yes, but you shouldn’t have to care.

    Apple’s various media-based apps (iTunes, Music, Photos, Books) all have their own various schemas for storing documents, but with all of them, you can drag/drop an item from the app to the Finder if you want to copy it somewhere else.

    (Photos requires you to do an export from the menu-bar if you want to make a copy that preserves all the metadata, but that seems like an exception here.)

    It’s been a long time since I ran Podcasts, but I would like to think the same will work there.

    I would argue that digging down into an app’s library database to find the file, no matter how well it may be organized is too much work. Just drag the file from the app to someplace else to make your copy and don’t bother with finding the actual file location.

  75. Different strokes for different folks.

    I will concede that abstracting direct file manipulation is more robust programmatically, as it minimizes the chances that a user will perform an action that leads to disagreement between a file’s name/location and the app’s associated metadata database.

    At the same time, it puts a layer of abstraction between arguably the most elementary skill in graphical computing (navigating around clearly named files and folders) and the end user. We may see dragging and dropping from an app to the Finder as an elementary skill, but is it really something that will occur to many end users? To be fair, I am aware of UX research that suggests even basic navigation through a file hierarchy is beyond the skills of many users.

    I also will concede that my thinking on human-computer interaction is heavily influenced by what was the norm in the 80s and 90s. Sure, add more advanced and efficient means of interacting with data, but retain the most basic, discoverable methods of interaction to engage the novice user. Occasionally, they’ll stub their toes, but that’s part of learning. My views on discoverability no doubt are considered archaic by the “modern” design community.

  76. So you’re saying that every day you can observe a difference between playing with Smart Speed vs. without? Can you describe what you observe? Do you hear the difference or you just see the number tracking the amount of time saved going up in the app?

    It certainly appears that it can help some people:

    Listening to the demo in that experiment, it confirms my hunch that the best value for this feature is for shows that experience a lot of what musicians call rubato: some passages are so fast that doing an overall speed increase would make them too fast, while other passages are too slow or even have pauses. So the speaker leaves you with little discretion over how to usefully manage playback speed. That’s a good use case for Smart Speed.

    I don’t think I listen to anything of this sort. But it’s a clever feature.

  77. I miss PodCruncher. Such an easy interface to use.

  78. I know that you weren’t asking me, but for me I always have smart speed on, never have it off, and wouldn’t dream of listening to the same podcast episode twice just to try see if I can tell the difference - so I just trust that Overcast is doing it right.

    I do recall that in earlier versions Overcast would do weird things to the intro tune of the Slate Political Gabfest podcast (the tune has since been changed), but there was a time when that weirdness stopped happening and the tune sounded normal. (I never noticed it with the music in any other podcast.) I didn’t really care, because if I am thinking fast enough I skip past the intro anyway, but I am guessing that Marco Arment discovered how to distinguish between voice and music and turned off the feature whenever music was present.

  79. The problem is that the line-items (Photo, podcast, song, book) may not exist on your computer at all. The app may have deleted the file, expecting to later be able to re-download it from iCloud or one of Apple’s store sites.

    Note also that (for another example), iTunes (and Music) may not be storing the song file in one of those well-structured directory trees in your Music library. Depending on configuration, a drag/drop action to add music to your library may leave the file in-place, without copying it to the library. Or your library may have been created with a different version of the app that organizes files differently. Unless/until you perform a consolidate operation on your library, there won’t be any obvious structure to those files, either.

    But the app knows where the files are, because it can play/view them. A drag/drop from the interface will do the right thing and not make you do the hard work of determining where the files may be stored.

    I would also say that knowledge of and reliance on specific locations in a hierarchical file system is far from “the most elementary skill”. The whole concept requires training. You and I don’t think about it because we’ve been using computers since the time when there was no other way to access content.

    But people learning today are far more used to relying on search systems and specialized apps. They may not know the specific location where any documents are stored. And with cloud-based storage, the very concept may be pretty ambiguous.

    I have no clue where anything is stored on my iPhone, and it’s actually pretty difficult to find out. But it doesn’t matter. I ultimately don’t care what the file system or network path to a photo is. If the Photos app gives me the means to quickly locate it, and then send/share it with others, I don’t have to care.

  80. Both. (As of this writing, Overcast claims to have saved me 624 hours with Smart Speed.)

    Every day — well, every weekday — during my commute home from work, I listen to a daily podcast that usually lasts between 90 and 100 minutes. It’s an afternoon-drive radio show that transitioned to a subscription podcast. Most days I look at the run time before it starts. Invariably, Smart Speed makes the show end sooner than that actual run time. That’s easy for me to notice if I know the true length of the show and play it from start to finish without pauses, which I often do.

    This is important to me because I don’t want to fall behind. Much of the discussion is timely, so I want to finish each show on the same day it posts. But the show is almost always longer than my commute. When I’m still listening at home, trying to finish up the show after my commute is over, that’s when I’m grateful for every minute Smart Speed has removed from any one show.

    That makes a difference to me, and I would never use the traditional transport speed controls to accomplish that. To me, listening to an entertaining program with the audio sped up would be a constant, annoying distraction. I wouldn’t listen if I had to listen to it that way.

    Smart Speed is a much better option for me because it speeds things up in a way that I can’t actually hear unless I listen to the same thing without Smart Speed turned on. Which I am occasionally forced to do. Sometimes I have to listen to my normal podcasts via some non-Overcast method. The slower pace of the exchanges and the longer pauses (by all speakers) are remarkably noticeable to my ear.

    The first few times this happened, I didn’t realize at first what the problem was. A couple of times I thought maybe I was inadvertently listening at a slowed-down speed. Once I wondered if one of the speakers was a little slow because of illness. In each case, I eventually realized that the only variable was the absence of Smart Speed. It does a great job of picking up (and evening out) the pace of any extemporaneous conversation, and that’s the only kind of podcast I ever listen to. None of the podcasts I listen to is scripted. People are always pausing to think about what they’re saying, or pausing to give other speakers a chance to speak. I don’t think that’s specific to my podcasts. That’s just how people speak.

  81. While I understand that it can be annoying to listen at increased speed, my goal is obtaining information and insight. The signal to noise of most podcasts is sufficiently low that I listen to almost every podcast with the speed slider set to at least 1.5x on Overcast. The ease of changing speed in small increments is my reason for choosing this app. I also use smart speed but suspect that the per cent savings are not that high.

  82. Message Marco, or hit him up on Mastodon. He’s not hard to find, and is a very astute guy. He has a beta program as well, if you want to (or qualify for) beta testing. Don’t just shout into the void, go to the source.

  83. Maybe you should listen to better quality podcasts with higher ‘signal’ :joy:. I’m with @anthony.craine, I can’t listen to speeded up podcasts, they sound too bad. But I am picky about the podcasts I listen to, and tend to only listen to those with high production values where they have already removed annoying pauses and drivel in the edit phase.

  84. I think the podcasts I listen to are of very high quality, but there is a tendency for the people on them to repeat themselves and take a long time to make a point which can be made more succinctly. I will honor the rules of this forum by not mentioning any names but I am sure they are well known here.

  85. Finally I really can answer. Yesterday I used the watch app to listen because I was running in the rain and didn’t want to carry my phone, and the watch version of Overcast can’t do smart speed (it can speed up or down, but doesn’t do the reduction of spoken pauses.) It was night and day - all these pauses I never otherwise hear.

  86. IIRC, Apple Podcasts used to offer 50% increments, and Overcast had a richer set with 33% increments. Now Apple has 25% increments and I think Overcast upped the game with 17% increments.

    At this point, they’re both granular enough for me, and I don’t think it’s much of a deciding factor for most people any more.

  87. Let me know when Overcast has a “de-rambling” feature and I might switch back :joy:

  88. There’s more to it. For example, I listen to Sam Harris. Audio and content quality are both high. But I play his shows at 1.25x because the discussion rate is just more slow and deliberate than I need it to be. A couple times I turned that off, and I swore I was in a slow motion world.

  89. Agreed. I find that radio show hosts tend to talk slowly. I assume because the producers want to make sure everyone in the audience can follow the discussion. But it does mean that I have no problem listening at 2x speed.

    Until the host puts a caller on the air. Callers don’t usually follow the rule. They talk at normal speed, making them hard to follow at 2x. So I need to jump back to a slower speed when callers are on the air. Fortunately, the shows I listen to don’t usually take a lot of calls.

    And yes, when I’m listening live over the radio, everybody seems so slow that I wonder if they’re stoned.

  90. I honestly am contemplating building this feature into Listen Later. I wish I was kidding but I am not. There are several podcasts that I like but the host or the guest cannot stop rambling about irrelevant nonsense for a long time before actually talking about the real stuff that matters. Case in point, I like The Market Huddle podcast but the host always interviews the guest about his career story. Oh my god…Depending on the age of the guest the conversation might start from the 70’s…Technically, it should be possible to remove all that.

  91. Two more observations to make it harder to choose…

    1. I just noticed that Apple Podcast doesn’t seem to let me change speed on a per-podcast basis. That’s lousy. The use-case for changing speed is highly show-specific.

    2. Apple just announced some form of multi-lingual, searchable, synced transcripts. I don’t totally understand that yet, but it does sound one step closer to the world I described above where text and audio media merge into a single product :-)

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