After a year of work, Overcast 2 is now available as a free update for everyone. It’s mostly a major under-the-hood improvement, with relatively few user-facing changes. But they’re pretty good, I think.
And now, all features are free, and I’m trying a new business model.
The headlining feature of Overcast 2 is streaming. You can still download all episodes as you did before — I fixed some bugs there, too — but now, you have two more capabilities:
- Start playing any episode immediately and let it stream in, rather than waiting for it to completely download.
- Optionally set new episodes to stream instead of download, saving storage space.
And with the new storage manager, you can see how much space your downloads are consuming for each show, and optionally delete the downloads and stream the episodes on demand.
Overcast’s streaming engine is completely custom-written and designed for modern devices, the modern mobile internet, and the expectations of today’s customers, tightly integrated with Overcast’s custom audio engine to be as fast and efficient as possible.
And, of course, Smart Speed and Voice Boost are always available, even when streaming. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Even if you don’t plan to use streaming, you’ll reap its benefits: converting the audio engine to a streaming architecture has made all playback faster to start, easier on battery life, more compatible, and more reliable. (And everyone wants to play an undownloaded episode right now sometimes.)
Smart Speed and Voice Boost have also been quietly enhanced:
- Smart Speed is more efficient and now adapts dynamically to quieter voices.
- Voice Boost tone has been subtly enhanced as I’ve gotten better at audio production techniques.
Quite simply, it sounds a bit nicer.
I was wrong. (Not for the first time.) Turns out that chapters are pretty nice. Don’t doubt the Germans.
Overcast’s podcast directory has always had a good search if you knew what you were looking for, but browsing was limited to very narrow editorial picks that I edited manually, badly, and infrequently. Since I sucked at that job, I fired myself and replaced me with someone far better: everyone else.
Now, the directory categories are powered by recent recommendations by Overcast users. This is already surfacing far more diverse podcasts, and updating far more frequently, than I could ever offer as one person who mostly listens to tech shows.
I’ve made lots of other changes and fixed a lot more bugs. Some of the highlights:
- 3D Touch launch shortcuts (more 3D Touch coming soon)
- Swipe actions on episode cells
- Icon badge option
- Play Next By Priority option for playlist behavior
- A complete overhaul of the show-artwork architecture
- Faster, more reliable communication with the Apple Watch app (watchOS 2 port coming later)
- Moved to a new database layer that fixed tons of bugs, including some remaining sync bugs and the infamous playlist-reordering bug (sorry!)
Plus too many smaller improvements to list here.
My crazy new business model
Overcast has always been free up front to bring the best app to the most people. But I’m just one person, running this business the old-fashioned way, so it has to make money somehow.
Overcast 1.0 locked the best features behind an in-app purchase, which about 20% of customers bought. This made enough money, but it had a huge downside:
80% of my customers were using an inferior app. The limited, locked version of Overcast without the purchase sure wasn’t the version I used, it wasn’t a great experience, and it wasn’t my best work.
With Overcast 2.0, I’ve changed that by unlocking everything, for everyone, for free. I’d rather have you using Overcast for free than not using it at all, and I want everyone to be using the good version of Overcast.
If you can pay, I’m trying to make up the revenue difference by offering a simple $1 monthly patronage. It’s completely optional, it doesn’t get you any additional features, and it doesn’t even auto-renew — it’s just a direct way to support Overcast’s ongoing development and hosting without having to make the app terrible for 80% of its users.
If only 5% of customers become monthly patrons, Overcast will match its previous revenue.
Patrons may get special features in the future if I can’t afford to offer something to everyone (due to hosting costs, etc.), but today, patronage is simply that: supporting Overcast directly, because you want to. And if you’d rather not, no hard feelings.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy Overcast 2.