Podcasts have become one of the biggest ways in which we consume media today. According to a 2020 study by the media research firm, Edison Research, 60% of the US population listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. There is a bevy of great content out there, from big-name shows that everybody knows down to a truly astonishing variety of niche-content. Great. The bad news is, while it has gotten better, Apple’s dedicated Podcast app leaves much to be desired for the avid listener. That’s where Overcast comes in.
Back in the day, Apple didn’t even have a separate app for podcasts and you had to go through iTunes. This has changed, and while the Podcast app has all the essential features, a number of other apps—like Pocket Cast, Breaker, and Castro, to name a few—have emerged to do podcasts better. Overcast is my personal favorite due to its solid design and high level of customization.
When you first log-in to Overcast, you can immediately subscribe to some new podcasts or import your subscriptions from whatever platform you previously used. Overcast’s design emphasizes making playlists. Instead of showing you an endless feed of episodes as they come in, Overcast’s homepage puts your custom playlists front and center.
Once you create a playlist, you can add a few different podcasts and actually set the playlist to update itself as new episodes are added. There are a bunch of different ways to customize and sort your playlists, and this emphasis helps you avoid the specter of your ever-expanding list of forgotten, un-downloaded episodes.
If you swipe right on the podcast art when listening, you get access to some of the features that make Overcast standout. Not only can you crank up the playback speed to 3x, but you can also activate Smart Speed and Voice Boost. Smart Speed automatically clips out extended silences and dead air. Overcast will tell you just how much time this feature has saved you, and it really does add up if you listen to a lot of podcasts. Voice Boost improves the audio quality to make voices stand out more. It can help save podcasts that would be otherwise very difficult to listen to by smoothing out the audio channels.
Swipe left in the player, and you get access to things like podcast art, show notes, and other details. You can share episodes easily from the player and can chose to share from a particular timestamp or the beginning of a chapter, if the episode has them. You can also search podcasts by episode name, which can be useful for finding older content.
You can save all of these playback settings to each show you listen to, and the app overall enables you to customize your listening experience to a high degree. Overcast evens has a “Nitpicky Details” section in its settings where you can go really deep into tailoring the experience. It’s no more essential than its name would have you think, but is nice to have.
Overcast comes with a premium version. Pay $0.99/month to get rid of ads. Since all the advertisements are for other podcasts, they don’t break the experience by any means. But it should still be mentioned given that there are subscription free and ad-free podcast platforms available.
Overcast is available on the App Store.