Pocket Casts 6

I bought my copy of Pocket Casts years ago when (I think) my favorite podcast client was Downcast. It may very well have been the first version of Pocket Casts, I don’t remember exactly. Anyway, I tried it out and gave up after a couple of hours. It just didn’t fit my podcast managing habits.

Time went by, and Downcast was replaced by Overcast. And then, a couple of weeks ago, version 6 of Pocket Casts was released to the public. I took this opportunity to have a closer look at the new app.

Remembering my previous experience, I think I had an issue with the fact that the “Up Next” list in Pocket Casts did not allow for a reordering of episodes or something along that line. Anyway, this issue is now gone and reordering is sufficiently supported.

Also, I have embraced the idea of (where it makes sense to me) manually adding new episodes to the “Up Next” list1. It is a nice way to triage even a larger list of new episodes and decide which ones shall be added to the “Up Next” list and which ones shall be reconsidered later.

In my opinion, this is an alternative approach to the “killer feature” of the currently a lot of buzz around the “hyped” new version of Castro. Reviewers rave about how innovative the triaging of podcast episodes in Castro is. I think Pocket Casts also does a good job in this discipline.

Also, video podcasts. Upon using Pocket Casts more intensely, I used the “Discover” feature to find a podcast of a TV show I used to watch years ago.

Turns out, I watch the episodes of the video podcast entirely on my iPad while I listen to audio podcast mostly on the iPhone2. When I’m using the iPad, I mostly have an Internet connection set up and therefore it is no problem to stream. Whereas, on the iPhone I download everything I want to listen to. Different preferences on different devices that can be set for each device individually without being automatically being synced between devices.

What is synced is the list of subscriptions and the playing position, which totally makes sense to me.

Pocket Casts supports trimming intervals of silence (this feature is named “Trim Silence” in Pocket Casts) from the playback and it also supports a setting where voice is made more prominently (“Volume Boost”). Admittedly, both features have been successfully pioneered by Overcast. However, the implementation in Pocket Casts is in my opinion absolutely comparable to Overcast‘s output.

Pocket Casts, in comparison to Overcast, does a much better job of displaying the statistics (e.g. minutes of “life time” gained by suppressing intervals of silence). I have never been able to make Overcast show me those numbers. I understand that they should be visible in the settings, but in practice they just don’t.

I should also mention that bugs can still be found in the app. For example, I had several episodes of one podcast that all play for exactly 15 minutes3. Pocket Casts, however, came to all sorts of conclusions about the length of the episode. For different episodes, I have got all results from the correct 15 minutes up to 44(!) minutes displayed in the scrubber. Needless to say that the episodes will still finish at the 15 minute mark.

I tried the same episodes in other clients, and they listed the correct value of the episode length. I guess it is safe to say that the actual files seem to be OK, and the blame goes rightfully to Pocket Casts.

To sum up, I think I will keep Pocket Casts as my preferred podcast client for now, Before I decided to switch clients on an experimental basis, I never thought that any client will replace Overcast as the number 1. Pocket Casts, so it is quite an achievement that Pocket Casts made it so far.

  1. There is also a per-podcast option to automatically add new episodes to the “Up Next” list, and I use it for two shows that have rather short episodes and to which I want to listen anyway. 
  2. The ration of listening to audio podcasts between iPhone and iPad is probably around something like 80:20. 
  3. That’s because these episodes are effectively radio features that can be downloaded as a podcast. 

Blogging sans Octopress, for now

For the last couple of years I have occasionally1 published articles on my blog, powered by Octopress.

The frequency of creating new articles was partly determined by the fact that, using Octopress, I inevitably need a Mac to prepare a post for publication.

Typically, I would reasearch, draft, and edit an article in my spare time on an iOS device. After that, the article would be transferred to a waiting state until I got the time, leisure, and access to my Mac to start the publishing process.

It may sound weird, but in some cases the time between finishing the article preparation and the actual publishing becomes significant.

Sadly, I even don’t even have a Mac any longer, it died a couple of weeks ago2.

Coincidentally, I have been toying around with the idea of a blogging platform that (in contrast to Octopress) allows for direct publication from an iOS device for the last couple of months. Therefore, this is the “perfect” opportunity to finally set up a WordPress site and start kicking its tires3.

As an avid blog reader myself, I have come across some high-profile “role models” on the Internet where one can get some inspirations and ideas for setting up the own work flow.

Ben Brooks, for example, has recently switched to iOS full time and uses the iOS version of Ulysses as the primary writing tool for publishing on his blog.

I have used Ulysses before, and quite like it. It’s a solid writing tool that has gotten support for directly pubishing articles on a WordPress site. So, Ulysses it will be for the time I’ll be checking the option of having a WordPress blog.

At the end, I may go on with the WordPress blog and just keep my Octopress site online to not break any links, or I may even end up working on both platforms. Time will tell.

  1. In hindsight, I have never found into a habit of publishing daily, or even weekly. 
  2. I don’t think I’ll get a new machine until Apple presents new models of the MacBook pro and until I have gotten to the conclusion that those are not. lemons. 
  3. I seriously have no idea where this will lead to. I guess I’ll just get going and see how I feel about it after some time.