Podcast app

The Overcast podcast app gets a big design overhaul

Overcast, a popular podcast player for Apple devices, is getting an update that brings a major design overhaul to its main screen, as well as a new theme system that lets you choose the colors used in the app. . For Overcast users like me, the update is a fresh coat of paint for a well-designed app, and experienced users will likely find plenty of new tweaks and settings they can use to make the app work even better. for their use case.

In a blog postApp developer Marco Arment says the 2022.2 update, available for download on Friday, is the app’s “biggest overhaul” ever, and promises exciting future updates.

The changes are obvious from the moment you open the app – there’s a new recent carousel, which lets you quickly resume episodes you’ve been listening to and see which podcasts have new episodes (you can even long-press tiles for more options), and the interface is full of updated icons. Playlists, which live at the top of the screen, have had a major overhaul: they now display as customizable colored bubbles with icons, rather than gray rectangles as they used to, and you can now create playlists that show you all your queues, favorite episodes, downloaded or in progress.

The old Overcast home screen, left, compared to the new one, right.
Image: Marco Arment and Image: Marco Arment

If you want any of these pre-made playlists, you can easily add them to your home screen via the Add Playlist menu – and if you don’t want them, you can skip them altogether. (The Add Playlist menu also includes the option to hide and show the recent bar, if you’re not a fan.)

Below Playlists and the Recent section is your podcast list. In the previous design, the home page had sections for Playlists, Podcasts, and Read Podcasts. These last two have been replaced by a list that allows you to switch between three modes: not played, active and inactive. Unplayed shows you podcasts with unplayed episodes, active shows all of your watched podcasts, and inactive is for “podcasts that you are unwatched and have no episodes added, or appear to be inactive.” (These podcasts also get a cute little moon icon in the UI.) You can also pin shows, which keeps them at the top of the list.

Beyond the new feature, the app also comes looks nicer. I wouldn’t say that Overcast has ever looked bad, but in my eyes the update makes it feel much more modern. Arment mentions that he’s updated the app’s typography and spacing, but probably the most exciting thing is the addition of a new theme system. You can keep orange in light mode and blue in overcast dark mode if you want, but I imagine a lot of people will appreciate being able to look through the available color palette and select something different – and yes you can have different colors for when the app is running in light or dark mode.

The app lets you choose from 12 different colors, and the one you select will be used for virtually every button on the interface.
Image: Marco Arment

There are also some minor tweaks, like a redesign of the menu that appears when you tap on a podcast episode in a playlist. Now there will be a button that lets you mark an episode as played, which Arment says was “by far” the most user-requested feature. You can also mark an episode as played by swiping right on it and tapping the icon.

A list of podcasts in a playlist, showing font and menu updates.
Image: Marco Arment

Friday’s update is primarily aimed at improving the experience of managing your podcast library – once you go play one, the design will be largely the same as the previous version, except for the theme color that you choose will be used everywhere. Arment promises that the currently playing and individual podcast screens will get their own fresh coat of paint in a future update, so there’s something to look forward to.

After trying the update for a while, I’m impressed. In the year or two I’ve been using Overcast, I’ve never really clicked with the playlist or the queue system, but the new design makes me want to at least give it a try.

And while I couldn’t use it long enough to see how much of a difference some of the bug fixes and background notification improvements will make, I did appreciate a few of the small quality tweaks. life (finicky details, as they’re labeled in the Covered settings menu) as well. I can’t wait to see what Arment has in store for the new game screen, as it’s the interface I use the most.