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Overcast Podcast App Gains New 'Black' Dark Theme, End of Episode Sleep Timer, and More

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Popular third-party iOS podcast app Overcast reached version 4.0.1 on Thursday, bringing some much-requested features including a new true-black dark theme and sleep timer option.

New Black dark theme compared to Light theme with System font option enabled

The new Black theme, shown above, joins the existing Light and Dark themes, and has been designed with the iPhone X in mind, offering a slick new look for the smartphone's 5.8-inch OLED display as well as being easier on tired eyes.

As before, users who like to change things up depending on the time of day (or night) can swipe up or down with two fingers to quickly change between a light and dark interface - the only difference being that the Light-Switch gesture now simply chooses the most recently used dark theme.

In another neat UI appearance tweak, users can now also opt to turn on the system font for whichever theme they choose.

Elsewhere, there's a new sleep timer option that stops playback at the end of the currently playing episode, plus a bunch of smaller improvements including one that's supposed to fix auto-resume playback after taking a call.

Overcast 3.1 is available as a free ad-supported app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Article Link: Overcast Podcast App Gains New 'Black' Dark Theme, End of Episode Sleep Timer, and More
 

Michael Scrip

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2011
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I wish Overcast had orange accents on the dark and black themes.

I don't know why the white theme has orange... but the darker themes have "Seafoam Green"

:p
 
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FasterQuieter

macrumors 6502
Feb 21, 2008
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I wish Overcast had orange accents on the dark and black themes.

I don't know why the white theme has orange... but the darker themes have "Seafoam Green"

:p

I used the light theme for a year before switching and was thoroughly sick of orange by then. Give me blue (or whatever it’s called) any day.
 
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riverfreak

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Jan 10, 2005
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It’s good that the third-party podcast app developers are working to improve their apps, since Apple’s own app team seems hellbent on whittling the features of the company’s app down to nothing.
Not just the podcast app. Other core apps like Calendar and Mail are languishing. I so badly would like to use Calendar but it just isn’t as useful or collaborative as google calendar. But I digress. Back to podcasts :)
 
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MacGizmo

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Apr 27, 2003
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I purchased Overcast but fail to see how it’s better than Apple's Podcasts app.
I used to love Apple's Podcast app... in the last updates to it, I fail to see how it's even useable.

Overcast's ability to remove dead air in podcasts and speed up play speed in smaller increments than Apple's Podcast app makes listening to podcasts a much better experience. And the podcast management is a lot clearer... shows don't appear 2 or 3 times on a single screen, and deleting a podcast does just that instead of simply removing it from a list requiring you to navigate back to some arbitrary location where the actual file exists in order to delete it.

PS: Overcast is free. Always has been.
 
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c.hack

macrumors newbie
Apr 11, 2012
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You sure you got the right app? Overcast is free and it’s way better than the Apple podcast app

Overcast used to charge (I paid for it), then screwed over its paying customers by becoming ad supported even after you had paid full price for the app.

Apple's podcast app has always been free and has had no ads.

You decide which is better.
 
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ArcAngel66

macrumors regular
Jun 26, 2009
156
5
Overcast used to charge (I paid for it), then screwed over its paying customers by becoming ad supported even after you had paid full price for the app.

Apple's podcast app has always been free and has had no ads.

You decide which is better.

This.

I paid money for it as well. Since it went freemium, nobody who initially paid has had full access to every feature.

I get developers want to make a living (though it’s hard to feel bad for Marco in his $100K Tesla)...

But if you initially charged money for an app - and later decided to move to freemium... how dare you not give full “pro” access to those who were early adopters/supporters. No argument justifies what Overcast, and many other apps, did.

It’s one thing if a huge update comes along, such as Things releasing an all new version. But Overcast literally has gone back and forth on stupid UI decisions - and is constantly breaking (both UI and functionality) because Marco is too good to use standard iOS resources.

It’s sad... Instacast is still miles better than Overcast. And it’s general design hasn’t changes in years. But remains relevant because it adheres to iOS’s design standards. Glad Instacast Core is around now, and being maintained.

And ironically, Overcast looks more and more like Instacast with each UI refresh.

The silence skipping is the only thing I can find appealing... but honestly, what’s the point? What use is it, at the end of the day?

The EQ is no better than iOSs Late Night setting, which applies system wide.

Are these trade offs worth relying on a non-standing audio engine requiring ongoing fixes? I personally don’t think so.
 
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RevTEG

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2012
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San Jose, Ca
I used to love Apple's Podcast app... in the last updates to it, I fail to see how it's even useable.

Overcast's ability to remove dead air in podcasts and speed up play speed in smaller increments than Apple's Podcast app makes listening to podcasts a much better experience. And the podcast management is a lot clearer... shows don't appear 2 or 3 times on a single screen, and deleting a podcast does just that instead of simply removing it from a list requiring you to navigate back to some arbitrary location where the actual file exists in order to delete it.

PS: Overcast is free. Always has been.

I agree, I also used to love Apple's podcast app. However, in my opinion, Apple destroyed their podcast app in iOS 11. The navigation is horrible.
 
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Narked Diver

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Apr 8, 2014
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One day (ha, ha, ha) Apple will make stand-alone podcast apps available on the Apple Watch so you don’t need to be tethered to your iPhone
 
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MacGizmo

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Apr 27, 2003
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I agree, I also used to love Apple's podcast app. However, in my opinion, Apple destroyed their podcast app in iOS 11. The navigation is horrible.
Was it only iOS 11? I thought it was earlier than that. Or maybe it just seems that way because I quickly adjusted to Overcast after switching.
 
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RevTEG

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Oct 28, 2012
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Was it only iOS 11? I thought it was earlier than that. Or maybe it just seems that way because I quickly adjusted to Overcast after switching.

It was probably earlier that iOS11. I was a late comer to the world of podcast. iOS 9/10 was when I really started becoming a huge fan of podcast. Even though I’ve been an iPhone user since iPhone 1 I never really used the podcast app.
 
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SteveW928

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May 28, 2010
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Argh. Dark themes must be so nice on the X. It’s almost like Apple should offer a system wide dark theme...

The new 'Black' theme is great, even on my SE. I think it's more that you *want* a dark theme on the X as it hides the silly notch. :)

It’s good that the third-party podcast app developers are working to improve their apps, since Apple’s own app team seems hellbent on whittling the features of the company’s app down to nothing.

No doubt. While it added a feature here or there, overall Apple does seem hellbent on destroying it. (Actually, it's probably more that they put new people on the project that don't know UI/UX design.) But, unfortunately, that seems to be an Apple trend in general. :(

I purchased Overcast but fail to see how it’s better than Apple's Podcasts app.

It's better in a bunch of ways. First, as already mentioned, the 'Smart Speed' with fine-grained control over playback speed is incredibly useful and smooth. I currently listen to most podcasts at an effective rate of between 2x and 3x. I wasn't able to do this with other apps. (According to the app stats, Smart Speed alone has saved me 234 hours in about a year since I started using Overcast.)

Second, the UI/UX generally makes sense and it's an enjoyable app to use. I was constantly fighting with Apple's poor UI/UX implementation or frustrated I couldn't do things I should have been able to do. (Marco has made some odd decisions a couple of times in the last year, but I think this current version irons most of them out pretty well.)

Third, since I am now subscribed to over 50 podcasts, Apple's app just couldn't handle it well. It was constantly trying to check for new episodes, using tons of bandwidth/resources, crashing often, somewhat unresponsive, etc. (Also, this creates a bunch of resource usage for the podcast RSS feeds themselves!)

Overcast gets notified of new episodes by a server that scans the feeds. This means when the app checks, it almost instantly knows if there are new episodes and the downloads begin (if set to download). What would take 5-10 minutes with Apple Podcasts often takes 30 sec to a minute with Overcast (and a TON less data, increased battery life, etc.).

Another feature I've just enabled is the ability to just dump random audio files to Overcast servers and have it integrate into my podcast listening. For example, I can text-to-audio something I need to read on my computer, or a book, etc. and easily incorporate it into my podcast listening.

It also has smart-playlists so I can pick which podcasts to put in a list and then prioritize and set rules about how they play in order.

It also has a great sharing feature, where you can send a link (or copy it, etc.) right from the app to get people to the episode you're listening to, or even to the exact point in the episode you're listening to. For example: https://overcast.fm/+K15KU03uQ

There are a few flaws... like it seems the download or not is a universal setting. So, since I'm set to download, I end up getting every episode of every podcast... even the episodes that I end up just trashing (for the podcasts I don't listen to every episode of). That throws off that podcast's stats and uses bandwidth. Also, subscriptions set in Overcast don't register as subscribed to Apple, so you have to remember (if you're a good podcast audience member) to subscribe via Apple as well. (FYI: # of subscribers is THE metric that determines podcast ranking... so do your favorite podcasts a favor and be sure to subscribe via iTunes/Apple no matter what app you use!)

The other problem occurs (very infrequently) when something goes wonky with the above server setup. I few times I've noticed no new episodes for a podcast, and when investigating, they had new episodes in their feed. Typically this is resolved in a few days, but it once took nearly a month.

The problem with this is that Marco seems to have an ideological thing against providing support. So, you can try to contact him (haven't gotten a response), but who knows if it did any good? So, a subscription is more like a tip-jar than a real subscription or payment for an app (if you don't need a couple of the advanced features). Fortunately, as mentioned, I haven't needed much support.
 
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SteveW928

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May 28, 2010
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I should also note that the general public must feel the same way about the shortcomings of Apple's Podcast app and Overcast... as in Libsyn's last stat update, Overcast gained percentage of the market while Apple's app lost a chunk. A lot of movement in a month's time.
(edited as I had percentages wrong... but still a clear signal)

Podcast app - 79.9% July/Aug -> 66.6 Sept -> 63.4% Oct
Overcast - 1.63% July/Aug -> 2.5% Sept -> 3.2% Oct
(Note: some of the shift was due to adjustments for stat collection for alignment with NAB standards.)
 
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RichardMZhlubb

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Nov 26, 2010
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I like the ads in Overcast (I paid for the app and could turn them off, but chose not to). Most of the ads are for podcasts and I find that it’s a great discovery tool for new podcasts.
 
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SteveW928

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May 28, 2010
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I like the ads in Overcast (I paid for the app and could turn them off, but chose not to). Most of the ads are for podcasts and I find that it’s a great discovery tool for new podcasts.

I turn them off in the main interface, as I just don't like the clutter. But I've left them on in the search/add area, as you're right that they are relevant. If I ever come into enough funds, I'd probably advertise my own podcasts (I've yet to start) there. :)
 
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mcvaughan

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Aug 9, 2007
866
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OK, so I’ve started using Overcast more, and see what everyone is saying. I guess I’ve missed these features that save time, and boosting voice volume. Pretty happy with the purchase now
 
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