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Marco Arment’s “Overcast”

Marco Arment basically invented read-it-later publishing on iOS with Instapaper. But with podcast applications he’s playing catch up. The challenge here is innovation and differentiation. I wrote about this app when word got out he was building it, and I’m revisiting it post launch.

Overcast  Podcast Player on the App Store on iTunes


Arment’s app, Overcast joins the already crowded Podcast application category. And what makes success in this area even more difficult is that Apple now offers its own free solution, which is markedly better than previous incarnations the company put out.

The driving component behind Overcast is simplicity. The design is thoughtful and Arment’s signature language is all over the interface language. Prompters like “no pressure” and “Skeptics FAQs” make it very him.

It offers all the bells and whistles users have come to expect, and you can also import subscriptions form other catchers, which I appreciate immensely. The interface is understated, and there is an amazing EQ, the likes of which I’ve never encountered with apps like Overcast.

There’s Twitter API integration as well, which allows you to suggest show favorites to friends. And the show notes seem to be more present somehow than in other applications. I actually look at them on Overcast.

I’ve yet to see any major flaws with this one, and anything that could be a potential shortcoming could arguably be seen as a plus for others. A lot of subjectivity here. I’m on board. Let me know what you think.

For more on podcast applications or call conference and online meeting solutions, visit bridgetopia

The Podcast App for Windows Phone 8.1

The Windows Phone has had some kind of native podcast utility on its OS for a bit now, but those days are over it seems. It looks like Microsoft is launching a new remote app that promises “a richer experience” than the native one did.

Windows podcast app

With developer previews popping up all over the web, the Windows Phone 8.1 is touting its many capabilities. And the podcast app, which you can buy from the Windows Phone Store, is supposed to really “user friendly.” It has playback speed control, and other “new features.” Picking up on that sarcasm?

Honestly, I can’t recommend this one. Too little too late. Sure, you’ll have more features than the old native configuration had, but this thing is still light years behind most of the more robust third party apps like Stitcher and Instacast.

Sometimes, better late than never, is not an applicable idiom.

The NPR Podcast App… does not exist

NPR is great. I like NPR. The people who don’t like NPR  have either never listened, are wrapped up in political agendas and hegemony, are twelve, or have taste that would conflict with what I consider to be good.

Now I worked in public radio where I not only produced NPR-type shows, but regularly poached Terry Gross’s guests from its home station, WHYY in Philadelphia. I was immersed in the sometimes blindly liberal, but uniquely insightful broadcasts. In fact, that was where I was introduced to the logistic aspects of RSS feeds and podcast uploads.

NPR, in many ways, spearheaded the podcast movement as a means of selective distribution and hyper-targeting before any other national outfit. I was able to access the entire This American Life archive via podcast. I would’ve never heard episode 15 were it not for NPR’s willingness to embrace the medium.

As it stands, the top five podcasts on Stitcher radio are all NPR programs–they hold at least three of the top five spots in iTunes on any given day. Suffice it say, they’re on their game as far as programming is concerned. So here’s my question:

So why hasn’t NPR taken a crack at the podcatcher game?

It seems, at the very least, offering a delivery system (a podcast app) that could house third party funding or offer remnant inventory to ad networks would be ideal for the sometimes “strapped” media outlet.

Because this…

npr podcast app

…just isn’t going to cut anymore.

Maybe this is a matter of core capabilities. Maybe NPR is merely catering to its strengths–quality programming. Why build an app when your strong suit is broadcasting, and why pay someone to build something that entrepreneurs, like Instacast, will build for you?

But anyone can create an app these days. Just hire some developers fresh out a college, and pay them for the build. Then  call it a day. It doesn’t even have to work well. Just sayin’.