I was starting to be convinced that the podcast player Castro were abandoned, after nearly a year without updates or explanations on the blog what was going on, which is very unusual for an app on a subscription business model. And yet, just a couple of days ago, an update hit the app store.
As can be expected, the list of changes is significantly longer than the list of changes of previous updates. The changes themselves are certainly nice improvements, but nothing game-changing. And I’m still puzzled why so much time had to pass between updates.
I stopped using Castro in late summer of 2022, when the last update was already suspiciously long ago1. After a short stint with Overcast, I reactivated my old Pocket Casts account and haven’t looked back since.
Of course, I have given the new Castro a try, but I came out disappointed. For example, Castro still had all my subscriptions. But it would not update them, whatever I tried.
Finally, I had to clean up the existing subscriptions and imported my current subscriptions from Pocket Casts. I have several subscriptions to podcasts associated with membership accounts. Unfortunately, Castro did not hold up well with these subscriptions. Some of them simply did not work.
During this time of kicking the tires, Castro underwent several crashes, which did not increase my confidence. I used to be a long-time fan of Castro, but with Pocket Casts I now have found a more-than-adequate replacement.
Pocket Cast has really benefitted from the acquisition by Automattic. When I tried it after the short stint withOvercast, I was positively surprised about the state of the app. In contrast to Castro, Pocket Casts is not only available on the iPad, there is also a Mac version. Plus, updates are shipped at a heathy rate.
The roots of Pocket Casts are still visible and remind me of the time I started to use the app on and off, at least for some period between 2016 and 2018. The Pocket Casts of 2016-ish did not stick, but the current iteration has a much better chance to stay.
- The deal with subscription business models is that developers ship updates from time to time, especially if the developer charges around twice the money that their direct competitors ask for.
I understand that a subscription model is a convenient way to make money and fund a continuous development of an app. But the other side of the medal is that by taking subscription money a developer also needs to accept the obligations that come with it.
And if updates fail to show up without any explanation at all, customers get cranky. ↩