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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Overcast 2 begins a new (podcast) chapter

Overcast 2 displays the current chapter at the top of the play controls and lists all chapters in the show-notes area.

Today Marco Arment released Overcast 2, a free update to his iOS podcast app. There are a lot of great iOS podcast apps out there, but Overcast remains my favorite, thanks to its excellent Smart Speed and Voice Boost features, as well as its flawless speed-boosting features.

Speaking of those features, in previous versions of Overcast they were unlocked when you made an in-app purchase. Beginning with Overcast 2, they’re free. The entire app is free, in fact, with Marco going to a patronage model—he requests donations if you use and like Overcast, to help support its continued development.

It’s an interesting move, but Marco was right to be concerned that the 80 percent of his users who didn’t pay weren’t seeing his app’s most notable features. Now everyone can use those features—and if a small percentage of Overcast users figure that it’s worth paying to thank Marco for his work, it should all work out.

That’s the End of That Chapter

An inside joke in the tech podcasting community has been that, for quite some time now, there have been some vocal podcast listeners who will strongly and repeatedly suggest that real podcasts embed chapter marks. It’s not fair to say that people are almost always German—sometimes they’re Austrian or Swiss.

For a long time I made AAC versions of my podcasts specifically to create chapter marks using GarageBand. But years ago, I gave up and went to MP3 versions only. However, it turns out that the MP3 format does support chapter marks too—it’s just never been supported in most podcast-creation tools or podcast-playing clients1.

Today, with the release of Overcast 2, the number of people who can take advantage of podcast chapter marks has skyrocketed. If you’re a podcaster wondering how you can add chapter marks to your podcast, your options are limited right now.

In fact, right now I know of only one, and it’s what I’ve been using for Clockwise for the last couple of years: the web app Auphonic. Auphonic is an audio processing tool—you upload your file and then set it to encode it, add chapter marks, provide leveling and filtering, and even automatically upload it to your host. You can process two hours of content per month for free, and there’s a sliding scale of what you need to pay for more processing time.

Auphonic’s Chapter Marks interface.

Auphonic also sells a Mac app called Auphonic Leveler Batch Processor, which does all the leveling and filtering, but unfortunately doesn’t (yet?) support adding MP3 chapter marks.

So for now, if you’re a podcaster and you want to experiment with chapter marks, I’d recommend that you check out Auphonic. But it’s hard to believe that someone won’t build a tool—even a quick and dirty one—to make this something you can do right on your Mac2.

  1. Downcast and the now-discontinued Instacast support this format. 
  2. If you come across one, let me know! 

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