Overcast 2 goes free, adds streaming, chapters and 3D Touch controls

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Developer Marco Arment on Friday released Overcast 2, an update to the popular iOS podcast app that makes it completely free to use and adds several significant improvements, such as streaming and early 3D Touch support.




Under the new pricing model, all Overcast features are free, instead of some being locked behind a $5 in-app purchase. Arment is asking regular users to donate $1 per month, with the possibility of patrons getting special features if he can't afford to offer upgrades to everyone.

The streaming technology lets users listen to an episode immediately, rather than wait for it to finish downloading. The app can also be set to stream-only, saving local storage space at the expense of bandwidth. An added storage manager lets users check how much space each podcast is consuming however, and can purge downloads to regain room.

Under the hood Overcast has a faster, more efficient audio engine, communicates better with the Apple Watch, and sports a new database layer eliminating numerous bugs.

Other feature improvements include chapter support, swipe actions, and a Play Next By Priority option for playlists. 3D Touch controls are currently limited to launch shortcuts, but these should expand in the near future. Lastly, the app has ditched editorial show recommendations for a system driven by users.

Overcast 2 runs on iPhones, iPads, and the iPod touch, but now requires iOS 9 or later.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25

    No, thanks. Not interested in contributing a single cent to that waffler Arment, nor will I download anything of his being marketed as "free".

  • Reply 2 of 25
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 267member
    I gladly paid the $5 for in-app purchase, but I avoid monthly fees as much as possible. I'll get this, but I'm very unlikely to pay unless it's a one-time thing that unlocks features.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 717member
    $1 / month when the actual product (the podcast) is free and once you hit Play, you're enjoying said product exactly the same, only using Apple's free podcast App.

    Strange marketing.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    bugsnw wrote: »
    $1 / month when the actual product (the podcast) is free and once you hit Play, you're enjoying said product exactly the same, only using Apple's free podcast App.

    Strange marketing.

    I'm not going to defend Marco's one dollar per month subscription plan, but I've got to say that I'm really not digging the Apple podcast app since iOS 9. I never really love the old one, but the new one really had me looking for a different podcast app to use. So far Overcast is the best one I found.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post



    $1 / month when the actual product (the podcast) is free and once you hit Play, you're enjoying said product exactly the same, only using Apple's free podcast App.



    Strange marketing.

     

    I would argue that his app works the way a technical user want a podcast app to work, and apple's podcast app doesn't.

    I spend probably 20 hours a week in pod casts... I'm willing to spend a penny an hour on the app.  I spend more on the earbuds/hour of use.

     

    Marco, is Talented, but strange (more accurately, borderline eccentric).  And his talent covers his strangeness.

     

    While his flip-flop on Peace was bizarre, his reasoning was rational.  He didn't want to be the face of ad-blocking, and his original logic was that he wanted a good ad-blocker for himself (his same logic for instapaper, magazine, overcast, and a cast of other apps he's written), in a market of hundreds, when only 12ish were announced day 1, and his was deemed the 'market leader', on a product he really didn't want to market at all.   It was either a couple weeks of pain early, or years of pain supporting the app, and having every web-ad funded site point at him as the reason web journalism died (not because 99% of it sucks).

     

    This is a guy that spend month worrying over the best fan timer for his bathroom, and feels he should blog about it.   I like that in a programmer.  He sweats the details.

  • Reply 6 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JamesTheLesser View Post





    I'm not going to defend Marco's one dollar per month subscription plan, but I've got to say that I'm really not digging the Apple podcast app since iOS 9. I never really love the old one, but the new one really had me looking for a different podcast app to use. So far Overcast is the best one I found.

    yes, it's gone from sucks, to tolerable, to sucks.   

     

    Apple effectively birthed the concept of podcasts and can't get it right.

     

    and Quote:


    Originally posted by Sog35


     


     Welcome to 2008 Marco.  Why the hell the original App did not allow you to stream is ridiculous.


    And... it sucks when your stream gets interrupted.  Or you just spent $15 more in overage charges to stream it via your data plan.  Like I said, Marco sweats the details.  Maybe overly so.

     

    Note: all podcasts in the day were pre-downloaded.... remember where the pod in (i)podcast comes from.

  • Reply 7 of 25
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    I would argue that his app works the way a technical user want a podcast app to work, and apple's podcast app doesn't.
    I spend probably 20 hours a week in pod casts... I'm willing to spend a penny an hour on the app.  I spend more on the earbuds/hour of use.

    Marco, is Talented, but strange (more accurately, borderline eccentric).  And his talent covers his strangeness.

    While his flip-flop on Peace was bizarre, his reasoning was rational.  He didn't want to be the face of ad-blocking, and his original logic was that he wanted a good ad-blocker for himself (his same logic for instapaper, magazine, overcast, and a cast of other apps he's written), in a market of hundreds, when only 12ish were announced day 1, and his was deemed the 'market leader', on a product he really didn't want to market at all.   It was either a couple weeks of pain early, or years of pain supporting the app, and having every web-ad funded site point at him as the reason web journalism died (not because 99% of it sucks).

    This is a guy that spend month worrying over the best fan timer for his bathroom, and feels he should blog about it.   I like that in a programmer.  He sweats the details.

    Geez I didn't know he was the same guy. Apple needs to hire him!
    yes, it's gone from sucks, to tolerable, to sucks.   

    Apple effectively birthed the concept of podcasts and can't get it right.

    And... it sucks when your stream gets interrupted.  Or you just spent $15 more in overage charges to stream it via your data plan.  Like I said, Marco sweats the details.  Maybe overly so.

    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Note: all podcasts in the day were pre-downloaded.... remember where the pod in (i)podcast comes from.</span>

    Makes me chuckle when I hear about android podcasts. xD
  • Reply 8 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    yes, it's gone from sucks, to tolerable, to sucks.   

     

    Apple effectively birthed the concept of podcasts and can't get it right.

     


     

    If there was ever a piece of Apple software that looked like the summer interns were in charge of, the Podcasts app would be the one.

  • Reply 9 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DWS-2 View Post



    I gladly paid the $5 for in-app purchase, but I avoid monthly fees as much as possible. I'll get this, but I'm very unlikely to pay unless it's a one-time thing that unlocks features.



    He calls it a "subscription", but it really works like a tip jar. You can choose to tip 1/6/12 months at about $1 per month, but it's automatically a one-time thing, not automatically renewed. I always thought that this was the best way for him to monetize. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay more than the $3 (or whatever) he charged for Overcast, but never had an easy way to do that. CrossyRoad is basically the same thing. You get almost no significant benefit from buying new characters, as they all work the same. It's essentially a tip jar.

  • Reply 10 of 25
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 267member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post

     



    He calls it a "subscription", but it really works like a tip jar. You can choose to tip 1/6/12 months at about $1 per month, but it's automatically a one-time thing, not automatically renewed. I always thought that this was the best way for him to monetize. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay more than the $3 (or whatever) he charged for Overcast, but never had an easy way to do that. CrossyRoad is basically the same thing. You get almost no significant benefit from buying new characters, as they all work the same. It's essentially a tip jar.




    Hmmm, that's much better. I'll probably choose the one-month option, then.

  • Reply 11 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

     

    ESPN Radio has been doing streaming Podcasts for YEARS.  No excuse for not having a streaming option for a Podcast app.


    by your logic,  you would be using Android, as ESPN has used Flash in parts of their full website for YEARS.  No Excuse to for Apple not to render flash option in ANY app.

     

    with streaming podcasts, at least you have options.

  • Reply 12 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

     

    Please explain whats wrong with Apples App.  

     

    I use Overcast and the AppleApp and I find myself using the Apple app more.  The only thing I like more about overcast is they seem to get podcasts a little faster.

     

    I also like the Apple Podcast feature that when I start my car the screen automatically goes to the last podcast I was listening too.


     

    The ~once a month crashing/hanging of the podcast player, the speed of upload.  The need to occasionally delete and reselect podcasts to get them to keep loading. The new ugly navigation panel.  The new 'mini bar' at the bottom of the screen (2 taps to actually manage podcasts).  Removal of the one click to skip to next podcast in your playlist.  No 3D Touch navigation.

  • Reply 13 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     



    dude man.  Read any review about Overcast and they all say not being able to stream is its weakness.  I understand why he did it since the advanced features require you to download the podcast.


     

    This isn't any different than Apple not having a camera in early iPhones, not having a phone larger than 3.5", then 4", not selling an iPad with a stylus, until they designed a 'pencil,' etc. etc.   Part of Marco's issue was the technology wasn't there in earlier iOS releases do to it in a manner he thought right and he didn't want to compromise.

     

    Until iOS 8.something (maybe even 9.beta), he had no way of telling if he was on a cell connection or not, and until he did, he wasn't delivering it.  Because in his way it was the right way to do it.

     

    (and if you read his release notes, using a new streaming audio engine, playback for streamed and downloaded casts is faster now).

  • Reply 14 of 25
    I stuck with Downcast for a long time (after Apple ruined theirs) but Overcast is great. It lets me listen to podcasts faster than any other app. I usually listen at 2x + SmartSpeed, for an effective 2.3x~2.4x. That's a huge time savings!
  • Reply 15 of 25
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    "The streaming technology lets users listen to an episode immediately, rather than wait for it to finish downloading. "

     

    Welcome to 2008 Marco.  Why the hell the original App did not allow you to stream is ridiculous.


     

    The point is to make it configurable.

  • Reply 16 of 25
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    This is one of THE best iOS apps, now $5 cheaper than before, with more features!

    Anyone who can't get over Marco's perfectly reasonable and harmless decision about his Peace app is cutting off their nose to spite their face. Take a breath. Listen to his reasons for making the app and his reasons for changing his mind, shrug about them, disagree with them, have zero empathy if you must, and then realize that humans make mistakes%u2014this one being utterly trivial since everyone got a refund. Then, move on to the app that is clearly his passion (judging from his podcasts): Overcast. Do yourself a favor.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TokyoJimu View Post



    I stuck with Downcast for a long time (after Apple ruined theirs) but Overcast is great. It lets me listen to podcasts faster than any other app. I usually listen at 2x + SmartSpeed, for an effective 2.3x~2.4x. That's a huge time savings!



    I use Downcast and it has increments of .5, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 2x, 2.25x, 2.5x, 2.75x and 3x speed. I like it.

  • Reply 18 of 25
    There seems to be a behavior change after this update.

    In the old app... tapping on an episode in a list of un-downloaded episodes would start the download. I would do this to stock up on various episodes to download ahead of time.

    Now... it starts to play the episode. I then have to stop the playback and then back out to the previous screen to download another episode.

    Some podcasts I subscribe to... so I get every episode download automatically. Those are fine.

    But other podcasts I like to pick and choose the episodes... and this new "play instantly" is kinda a hassle.

    Can we turn this off? I'm guessing it has to do with the new streaming capability (which I don't need)
  • Reply 19 of 25
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    I am delighted by this update. I've long been ticked off that many podcasts move too slowly and have awkward pauses that cause my attention to wander. Other podcast players including Apple's only offer a too-fast 1.5x speed. Smart Speed in Overcast not only lets users adjust the speed much more precisely (say to 1.25x), it eliminates time wasting pauses, making every podcast flow more smoothly and sound professionally done. The result is that I can not only listen to about 30-40% more podcasting in the same time, but I actually enjoy them more because I can set the speed of each podcast to just what I like.

    Also, listening to a series of short podcasts used to be a pain. Some would be too loud, and I'd have to turn down the volume. Some would be too soft, and I'd have to turn it up. Voice Boost fixes that. Now I only need to raise the volume when I'm in noisy areas.

    In fact, I like Overcast so much I've suggested to Marco that he add audiobook and other free-standing audio listening. Until then, I've found a work around. Both Librivox and Loyal Books can distribute their public domain audiobooks as podcasts. I get the podcast address for a book and have Overcast subscribe to it. Marvelous!

    If Amazon and Apple have sense, they'll buy this technology from Marcos. I gave up on the last audiobook I got from Audible because the person reading went too slow and a 1.5x speed up was too fast.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DWS-2 View Post



    I gladly paid the $5 for in-app purchase, but I avoid monthly fees as much as possible. I'll get this, but I'm very unlikely to pay unless it's a one-time thing that unlocks features.



    He calls it a "subscription", but it really works like a tip jar. You can choose to tip 1/6/12 months at about $1 per month, but it's automatically a one-time thing, not automatically renewed. I always thought that this was the best way for him to monetize. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay more than the $3 (or whatever) he charged for Overcast, but never had an easy way to do that. CrossyRoad is basically the same thing. You get almost no significant benefit from buying new characters, as they all work the same. It's essentially a tip jar.


    You are absolutely right, it is more like a tip jar and he is using the in-app purchase model with no recurring charge. You would need to tip again, aka do another in-app purchase in order to be charged a second time.

     

    Also I think its broken down into $3/$6/$12 chunks. I didn't see a $1 option on my iPad anyway.

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