I love podcasts. Yep, very much so! Before I deleted Overcast, I was subscribed to 32 or so shows covering technology, software and web design and development, product management, poetry, copywriting, writing, health, nutrition, cooking, veganism, stoicism, English grammar, business, fitness, spirituality, mental wellness...

I subscribed to a show or two (even three in some cases) for every subject I cared about. This was how I could learn a lot while doing other things - bathing, cooking, dishes, laundry, workouts, general housecleaning...

Yet, I deleted Overcast?

As far as the apps for this mode of consuming information goes, Overcast was the one last one that really worked for me. (I've tried all of them, believe me!) The interface was straight to the point - in one click I could get to new episodes of shows I'm subscribed to, see all my shows, add a new one. I could set "smart speed", which shortened silences, saving me a ton of listening hours (which Overcast did well to document and show off as bragging rights). A whole other settings were available to me that made podcast listening enjoyable.

Then again, Overcast's Privacy Policy was human, transparent, agreeable, and easy to read. I related well to the owner and maintainer of the service, Marco Arment - himself and his sense of simplicity.

Why did I still delete the app?

Overcast still failed in specific capabilities that I love a podcast app to have. And I just kept getting worried that updates after updates, these features never made the cut. These capabilities may be present in other podcast apps available but because they have unintuitive, buggy, and overcrowded interfaces riddled with annoying ads and lousy privacy policies, I couldn't stomach them.

Desired podcast capabilities

  1. Create playlists: Exactly like you can do with a music streaming service, I wanted to be able to create playlists, remove from playlists, queue playlists for continuous play, and order my playlists. Now you can create playlists on Overcast, but that's the furthest it goes - nothing more. Besides, the playlists are fragile - episodes disappear from them just like that. "All Episodes" itself is treated as a playlist, and if you deleted a show from it after you had added it to a new playlist, the show is completely gone from everywhere on your device, except you specifically picked the option to only remove it from the "All Episodes" playlist. Maybe that was a bug, but it lasted long enough to mess with my brain.
  2. Sort favorites: If I starred or hearted or favorited an episode, I'd love an auto "Favorites" or "Starred" or "Hearted" playlist created, which I could easily go to sometimes to hear my favorites, kind of "hall of fame" episodes or shows.
  3. Sync: I wanted to be able to have my shows and playlists synced across every device I used the app on, irrespective of platform-type - web, desktop, iOS, or Android. I wanted to be able to pick up, say, from the web where I left off on mobile. Overcast was only available on iOS!
  4. Ad-free, clutter-free: Since podcasts are mostly free, I'd like a service delivering those free pieces of education/entertainment to be "mostly" free. Podcasts usually advertise interstitially on their shows, I couldn't control that (I can't), but no problem, that'd be up to the user to choose whether to stay subscribed or not. Besides, publishers must have a way to keep their shows going. But if a particular show wanted to be premium, I'd love to have the app behave like a streaming service with a suitable revenue-sharing plan. Acast has this feature, but, again, its interface was a great put-off for me. Stitcher, too, I found complex and annoying!
  5. Play video: Yep, if the podcast is a video, the app should play the video. Overcast doesn't do this, so my yoga videos play as audio-only, too bad.

An App Called Cast?

As can be deduced from my desires above, I'm not asking for so much. And, perhaps, I'm the only one asking for the podcasts streamers to have such capabilities. Then If I got to have them, then I've got to design and build my own service. Because each time I think about them, those features, they seem pretty obvious you'd think, yeah, every player should already have them. Well, they don't or not quite, not appealing enough.

Therefore, I'm commissioning a podcast player service to be designed and built and released to the app stores by K16E. It may either be offhandedly called Cast or to make it a little unique An App Called Cast (AACC), which I kind of love the music of, the nod to the old hip-hop band A Tribe Called Quest.

The Cast series

This post is the first installment in a series of posts I'll be publishing to this feed as I proceed in designing and developing the app. With this essay, I wanted to establish why I want to do this. I hope I was able to do that.