Popular podcast app Overcast has been updated for iOS, bringing the first steps of a home screen redesign, along with custom playlists, choices for different playback colors, ways to filter podcasts in three ways, and more.
Created by a developer, writer and podcaster Marco Armament, it’s the go-to podcast app for many who haven’t been entirely satisfied with Apple’s Podcast app. While Apple recently added updates to help users manage the shows they subscribe to, Covered has other features that make it a great alternative.
Called 2022.2 for this latest updateit lets you pin podcasts to the home screen and mark podcasts as played, which can save you from wasting cellular data by downloading episodes you’ve already listened to.
With Overcast’s big update, we’re wondering what Apple’s own Podcasts app needs to do to stay competitive.
Apple’s Podcast app always felt like a catch-up
Podcasts have always felt like they existed since we were able to email each other. While they first appeared as a new medium in the early 2000s, podcasts arrived on Apple’s platform in 2005 with iTunes 4.9. It was a way to subscribe to shows on Windows and macOS machines at the time, which we then plug our iPods into to sync our favorite podcasts.
That year, Steve Jobs, co-founder and then CEO of Apple, gave an impromptu demonstration of the feature at one of The Wall Street Journal’s first All Things D conferences.
Once the iPhone arrived in 2007, podcasts would be part of the original Music app, but back then it was still difficult to subscribe and download new podcast shows.
Finally, a dedicated app arrived in 2012 from Apple, and while there have been regular updates, alongside a macOS version that debuted in 2019, it’s still catching up with its functionality, especially if you compare it to Overcast.
Arment’s app has long had an innovative feature called smart speed, where the app identifies silent pauses and speeds up the episode at those points. Once the host or guests speak again, the playback speed returns to normal.
After using the Overcast 2022.2 update on an iPhone 13 Pro, being able to pin podcasts and, finally, changing the colors of controls, it’s clear that Apple has its work cut out for it.
Apple introduced subscriptions and the ability to track podcast creator plays on its own app, but the app still feels like it’s catching up.
Apple’s version of a podcast app covers the basics, but you can’t pin shows, there’s no smart gear, and links in show notes still don’t display correctly . There’s no Apple hook here to trick you into using its app – it all looks and feels like its basics, a podcast app that does the basics, and that’s it.
There’s no killer feature like Smart Speed to keep you away from Overcast, and in a way that’s just good news for the Arment alternative, especially during the last decade where Apple’s Podcast app is available for download.
To catch up, Apple could buy Overcast – it won’t – or change the way it updates the app and roll out major annual updates at a cadence every few months. This way, Apple’s Podcasts app could rely on what listeners and podcasters want.
For now, however, this is all just wishful thinking. Overcast has been updated with a great redesign, and there are plans to revisit the Now Playing screen redesign. While you can download Overcast for free, there’s an annual fee of $9.99 / £8.99 / AU$10.99 to get rid of ads and use a dark-themed icon. Apple’s Podcast app is free.
With this substantial 2022.2 update, we can confidently say it’s worth the price if you’re a heavy podcast listener.