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Fix This App: Overcast for iOS

Michael Simon | Aug. 21, 2014
We spend a lot of time with mobile apps. We know what we like and what we don’t—sometimes within the very same app. Our Fix This App series takes a closer look at a mobile offering that’s not without some flaws and tries to nudge it a little closer to perfection.

Podcast files aren't small. A typical hour-long show runs between 25MB and 30MB, so if you're not vigilant about deleting downloaded episodes, even casual listeners could easily collect a half-gig of podcasts in a short time. And while serious fans will be happy to digest every second of every show, those who would rather zip through and listen to a few highlights might not be interested in the extra time and space it takes to download.

I rarely remember to plan my playlists for my walks or commutes, and that presents another set of problems. Among the unlockable features in Overcast is a toggle to disable cellular downloads, which smartly prevents you from unwittingly burning through your data plan; however, this also makes it difficult to listen to podcasts on the go that arent already stored. Not only do I have to download the full podcast (as opposed to, say, streaming a portion of the episode), the toggle requires me to jump back and forth between settings to allow cellular use, while also being mindful to stop any downloads that may be cued up. And if I find myself in an area with a weak connection, downloading just takes too long.

How to fix it

Arment will certainly spend the next several years perfecting Overcast. Hes already released a pair of updates that addressed a number of issues, and even considering the $5 in-app purchase for more features, its easy to recommend this app. But for my particular listening habits (and I suspect lots of others), Overcast isnt quite perfect.

Add the ability to stream: This would obviously solve all of my issues, eliminating the need to download and letting me listen on the go without jumping through any hoops.

Allow auto-delete for all downloads: Overcast already lets you set strict limits on how many unplayed episodes of each podcast are stored, but a better storage solution would be to allow automatic deletion of anything thats downloaded after a specified amount of time, even if it hasnt been fully listened to.

Add alerts for cellular usage: If an alert let you temporarily turn on cellular access for the download of a single podcast, it would still protect against data usage while taking away the need to dig through settings when away from a Wi-Fi signal.

 

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