In our Apps of the Year series, The Next Web team shares personal recommendations for our favorite apps of 2015.
If you listen to a metric ton of podcasts, then you’re probably aware of Overcast — the excellent podcast player for iOS developed by Marco Arment, the brains behind both Tumblr and Instapaper. While it has been a great service for some time, it originally kept very valuable pro features behind a $4.99 paywall.
But last month, Arment decided to scrap the freemium model in favor of an interesting (and totally optional) $1 per month patronage program. And those great features, once locked away, are now fully free to use.
Overcast’s neat and simple interface is a delightful contrast to the head-banging nightmare that is Apple’s proprietary podcast app. Over WiFi, it downloads new episodes of your favorite shows for local listening. You can also stream episodes over WiFi or data, denoted by cute little cloud emoji. You can pause, play, and jump forward or skip back in 30-second increments.
But its power lies in those special effects. There’s a nice ‘Voice Boost’ feature, which enhances the volume and voice EQ for a better, clearer sound. There’s also a ‘Smart Speed’ mode that automatically shortens sustained silences seamlessly to cut down your dead-air listening time. For those who are really into podcasts, a fully customizable scale allows you to increase the speed of the playback by up to twice as fast. There’s also a nifty little sleep timer, which means you won’t have to use your alarm app to stop the show after you’ve fallen asleep.
I was a fan of Overcast’s original app, but the new version gives me tools I never thought I needed. It’s fully worth the download and the monthly support, in my humble opinion.