Tag Archives: overcast

PodSearch

This isn’t the first time that David Smith has built something that I kind of wanted to build myself, too. Today he announced a cool side project for searching podcast audio:

You can easily search for a term or keyword and then play the actual audio back to find if it was the section you were thinking about. I even tag the sections with timecoded Overcast links for easy sharing.

I’d love to see David spin this into either a commercial product or set of free tools. He could host more shows, or let podcasters run their shows through PodSearch and export the results. For example, I’d want this for Core Intuition, along with edited transcripts eventually.

Listening to Timetable

Because episodes of Timetable are short (usually just 5 minutes) and because they aren’t published on a consistent schedule (sometimes once a week, sometimes 3 times a week), I’ve wondered if it may be difficult for some people to fit the podcast into their routine of listening to longer, hour-long podcasts. If you only listen to podcasts while in the car, for example, a 5-minute show isn’t going to fill your commute.

Luckily there are easy solutions to this. The first is: they are so short, just listen whenever you want, while you’re at your desk or walking somewhere or having lunch. Another option: gather up a few episodes and listen altogether, as if it’s 3 parts of a 15-minute podcast.

If you’re an Overcast user, you can create a playlist that will play multiple Timetable episodes in sequence without requiring any tapping in the app to queue up the next one. Here are some screenshots showing one way to set this up after subscribing to Timetable in Overcast.

First, tap the new playlist button in Overcast. Then tap Add Podcasts and select Timetable.

Overcast screenshots

The playlist should automatically show any unplayed episodes. Finally, tap the Playback button while an episode is playing and make sure to highlight Play Next for the When Episode Ends option. This will make sure that you have continuous playback from one episode to the next.

Overcast screenshots

I’ve recorded 23 episodes of Timetable so far, equal to about 2 hours of audio. While consistency is the most important thing for my other podcasts, Core Intuition and Technical Foul, for Timetable I’ve liked the flexibility to experiment with different styles and show formats. Enjoy!

Podcasting lock-in and the lesson from Penn Station

When my family was visiting New York City a couple of years ago, we took a train out of Pennsylvania Station on the way up to Montreal for the second half of our vacation. It was raining a little as we walked from the hotel, but I thought we’d still have no trouble finding the station. After a few minutes we gave up and had to ask someone where the entrance was.

We couldn’t find it because it looked like every other street corner in Manhattan. But it wasn’t always like that. It used to look like this:

Pennsylvania Station in the 1910s

In the 1960s, facing declining train usage and financial problems, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the rights to everything above ground and the incredible station pictured above was demolished. It was only afterwards, when it actually happened, that everyone fully realized what they had lost. Determined to not let other beautiful architectural landmarks get destroyed, the city passed a law to restrict similar demolition. Grand Central Terminal was preserved because of the lesson learned from letting Pennsylvania Station go.

I was thinking about this story — failing to do the right thing, but applying that knowledge to the next thing — while re-reading Marco’s excellent post on the future of podcasting. In it, he lays out the technical details for how podcasting works today, and makes the case for leaving it alone. I especially like this part, on his determination to keep Overcast a sort of pure MP3 client:

By the way, while I often get pitched on garbage podcast-listening-behavioral-data integrations, I’m never adding such tracking to Overcast. Never. The biggest reason I made a free, mass-market podcast app was so I could take stands like this.

I should have realized it earlier, but I don’t think I really connected all of Marco’s goals with Overcast until Daniel Jalkut and I had him on Core Intuition episode 200. We talked about many of these same themes as Marco was finishing up Overcast 2.0.

There’s also a great discussion on Upgrade about this. It starts about halfway through.

In a response to Marco on MacStories, Federico Viticci writes about the parallel trend in the web industry toward centralized services like Facebook and Medium that allow “content professionals” to monetize their writing. In doing so, those writers give up many of the benefits of the open web:

But the great thing about the free and decentralized web is that the aforementioned web platforms are optional and they’re alternatives to an existing open field where independent makers can do whatever they want. I can own my content, offer my RSS feed to anyone, and resist the temptation of slowing down my website with 10 different JavaScript plugins to monitor what my users do. No one is forcing me to agree to the terms of a platform.

While the open web still exists, we really dropped the ball protecting and strengthening it. Fewer people’s first choice for publishing is to start a web site hosted at their own domain. Like the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, sometimes you only know in hindsight that you’ve made a mistake. We were so caught up in Twitter and Facebook that we let the open web crumble. I’m not giving up — I think we can get people excited about blogging and owning their own content again — but it would have been easier if we had realized what we lost earlier.

Reading posts like Marco’s and Federico’s, and listening to Jason and Myke on Upgrade, I’m convinced that podcasting will remain open because we know better now. As a community we can learn from the mistakes with the web and the threats of closed platforms, making sure that podcasting is preserved as a simple technology that no one controls.

Core Int 200 with Marco

Last night we published our 200th episode of Core Intuition. To mark the milestone, Daniel and I welcomed special guest Marco Arment. We talked about the goals behind Overcast, his thoughts leading up to version 2.0, the podcast industry, and supporting our products, with a closing discussion about the new iPhones and proper use of 3D Touch.

Thanks everyone for your support of the show. I hope you enjoy this one.