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Overcast 2.5 review: Patron-backed podcast app gets more efficient and adds exclusive features

Glenn Fleishman | March 21, 2016
The original Overcast locked its best features away. It added streaming and Handoff in 2.0, and adds patron features and better battery efficiency for all in 2.5.

If you’re trying to ensure you’re using the least amount of cellular and Wi-Fi data (for those with broadband plans with caps or overage fees), setting New Episodes in Overcast to Stream When Played is a good choice while also disabling Cellular Data in Settings > Overcast and in Settings > Cellular. Every podcast that appears in the main All Episodes playlist as a new episode can be tapped to start a download over Wi-Fi. Or you can use the app-wide Downloads view and download them all at once. This breaks my particular want of not managing downloads, but it’s a necessary option for some people.

The streaming-by-default option also helps those with low-storage-capacity iPhones. In the previous Overcast, even with assiduous management of how many episodes I wanted to retain—which can be set per podcast and globally—I would find gigabytes of shows retained. Since I now use iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library, my 64GB iPhone tends to always have ample remaining storage, even when I have nearly 4GB as I do at this moment. With an 8GB or 16GB phone or a configuration with more local music or photo storage, this can help conserve space.

New to version 2 is a Storage list—in Overcast’s settings—that shows you the sum of all episodes, and then the space occupied by each one. You can tap Delete Downloads, and they’re all removed. You can also swipe left on an individual episode to remove it (or on a podcast to unsubscribe), or in a playlist, tapping Edit at upper right and then selecting multiple episodes to remove at once. The swipe-left action is much more reliable than version 1, where I often found myself accidentally starting to play an episode instead of revealing Delete.

A very welcome version 2.5 newcomer is Add All and Delete All. In the All view for a given podcast, tapping All brings up Add X Episodes and Delete X Episodes options. This lets you clear out all of the episodes downloaded for a podcast or download the full RSS feed worth of episodes for binging—the latter useful for fictional podcasts with continuity, lecture series, and similar cases.

Adding podcasts is fairly painless and ties in with show discovery. Tap the + button at upper right in the main view, and you can browse or search Overcast’s directory, which pulls from a number of sources. When I’ve launched new podcasts, Overcast seems to add them surprisingly quickly without any requirement to submit a podcast RSS feed URL to the service. In the search results, you can select a podcast and then subscribe to it, or view episodes in its feed and pick one to download. (If you have a feed URL to add, tap Add URL and paste it in; it pre-fills with the current clipboard if that’s a URL.)

 

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