The best podcast app on iOS gets a major redesign, leaving Apple’s app in the dust

The popular podcast app Overcast has been updated for iOS, bringing the first steps of a redesign to the home screen, alongside custom playlists, choices for different playback colors, ways to filter podcasts in three ways, and more.

Created by developer, writer, and podcaster Marco Arment, it's been the go-to podcast app for many who haven't been entirely happy with Apple's Podcast app. While Apple recently added some updates to help users manage their subscribed shows, Overcast has other features that make it a great alternative.

Called 2022.2 for this latest update, it lets you pin podcasts to the home screen and mark podcasts as played, which can save you from wasting cellular data downloading episodes you've already listened to.

With Overcast's significant update, we're wondering what Apple's own Podcasts app must do to stay competitive.


Apple's Podcast app has always felt like a catch up

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions design

(Image credit: Apple / Future)

Podcasts have always felt as though they've been around as long as we've been able to send emails to one another. 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 of subscribing to shows on Windows and macOS machines back then, which we would then connect our iPods to sync up our favorite podcasts.

That year, Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and then CEO, gave an impromptu demo of the feature at one of The Wall Street Journal's early All Things D conferences.

Once the iPhone arrived in 2007, podcasts would be part of the original Music app, but at the time, it was still a challenge to subscribe and download new podcast shows.

Finally, a dedicated app arrived in 2012 from Apple, and while there have been regular updates to it, alongside a macOS version that debuted in 2019, it's still playing catch up in features, especially when 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 the episode up at those points. Once the host or guests speaks again, the playback speed returns to normal.

Podcast options in new Overcast update

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Having used the Overcast 2022.2 update on an iPhone 13 Pro, being able to pin podcasts, and, at last, change the colors of the controls, it's clear Apple has its work cut out for it.

Apple has introduced subscriptions and the ability to track listens for podcast creators to its own app, but the app still feels as though it's playing catchup.

Apple's take of a podcast app has the basics covered, but you can't pin shows, there's no smart speed, and links in show notes still don't show correctly. There's no hook from Apple here to tempt you to use its app – everything looks and feels run of the mill, a podcast app that does the basics, and that's it.

There's no killer feature like smart speed to tempt you away from Overcast, and in a way, that's only good news for Arment's alternative, especially in the last decade of Apple's Podcast app being available to download.

To catch up, Apple could buy Overcast – it won't – or shift how it updates the app and move from annual major updates to a once-every-few-months cadence. In this way, Apple's Podcasts app could build on what listeners and podcasters want.

For now, though, this is all wishful thinking. Overcast has been updated with a great redesign, and there are further plans to look into redesigning the Now Playing screen. While you can download Overcast for free, there is a yearly 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 that it's worth the price if you're a heavy podcast listener.

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The best podcast app on iOS gets a major redesign, leaving Apple’s app in the dust

The popular podcast app Overcast has been updated for iOS, bringing the first steps of a redesign to the home screen, alongside custom playlists, choices for different playback colors, ways to filter podcasts in three ways, and more.

Created by developer, writer, and podcaster Marco Arment, it's been the go-to podcast app for many who haven't been entirely happy with Apple's Podcast app. While Apple recently added some updates to help users manage their subscribed shows, Overcast has other features that make it a great alternative.

Called 2022.2 for this latest update, it lets you pin podcasts to the home screen and mark podcasts as played, which can save you from wasting cellular data downloading episodes you've already listened to.

With Overcast's significant update, we're wondering what Apple's own Podcasts app must do to stay competitive.


Apple's Podcast app has always felt like a catch up

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions design

(Image credit: Apple / Future)

Podcasts have always felt as though they've been around as long as we've been able to send emails to one another. 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 of subscribing to shows on Windows and macOS machines back then, which we would then connect our iPods to sync up our favorite podcasts.

That year, Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and then CEO, gave an impromptu demo of the feature at one of The Wall Street Journal's early All Things D conferences.

Once the iPhone arrived in 2007, podcasts would be part of the original Music app, but at the time, it was still a challenge to subscribe and download new podcast shows.

Finally, a dedicated app arrived in 2012 from Apple, and while there have been regular updates to it, alongside a macOS version that debuted in 2019, it's still playing catch up in features, especially when 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 the episode up at those points. Once the host or guests speaks again, the playback speed returns to normal.

Podcast options in new Overcast update

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Having used the Overcast 2022.2 update on an iPhone 13 Pro, being able to pin podcasts, and, at last, change the colors of the controls, it's clear Apple has its work cut out for it.

Apple has introduced subscriptions and the ability to track listens for podcast creators to its own app, but the app still feels as though it's playing catchup.

Apple's take of a podcast app has the basics covered, but you can't pin shows, there's no smart speed, and links in show notes still don't show correctly. There's no hook from Apple here to tempt you to use its app – everything looks and feels run of the mill, a podcast app that does the basics, and that's it.

There's no killer feature like smart speed to tempt you away from Overcast, and in a way, that's only good news for Arment's alternative, especially in the last decade of Apple's Podcast app being available to download.

To catch up, Apple could buy Overcast – it won't – or shift how it updates the app and move from annual major updates to a once-every-few-months cadence. In this way, Apple's Podcasts app could build on what listeners and podcasters want.

For now, though, this is all wishful thinking. Overcast has been updated with a great redesign, and there are further plans to look into redesigning the Now Playing screen. While you can download Overcast for free, there is a yearly 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 that it's worth the price if you're a heavy podcast listener.

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WhatsApp backtracks on unpopular redesign decision

WhatsApp is an app that's constantly developing and evolving, with changes and new features being introduced with astonishing frequency. But change does not always mean that there are new things to try out; sometimes there are lessons to be learned from the past.

And this seems to be precisely what has happened. An update is in the process of rolling out to WhatsApp users that undoes a design change that was only very recently introduced. So, what is going on?

In just the last few days, WhatsApp users were met with a new look for their contacts list. The redesign saw the arrival of new “Frequently contacted” and “Recent chat” options, and it was a change that did not go down well.

The WhatsApp experts and fanatics at WABetaInfo asked their readers what they thought of the change. The tweets that came in response where far from glowing, with replies ranging from “not good” to “it's horrible”.

Now WhatsApp has apparently seen the error of its way and is reinstating the old look for the contact interface.

Ch… ch… ch… changes…

WABetaInfo is not claiming to have been instrumental in getting WhatsApp to change its mind and give people what they want, but it is likely that feedback from other sources was very similar. As a result, the contact list is reverting back to a simple alphabetical list, complete with an indication of the number of contacts.

The quick change of heart just goes to highlight the importance of beta testing for gauging user reaction to features, settings and interface options. Users who contribute such feedback can be absolutely instrumental in shaping the future direction of an app.

If you are part of the WhatsApp beta program, use the Play Store app to grab the latest update which should take you up to version 2.22.5.9 of the app and restore the familiar contacts interface. You may not see the update or the changes straight away, so you may need to be patient while it rolls out.

Via WABetaInfo

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