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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Podcast player Castro adds sideloading and pre-selected chapter skips

Sideloaded files sync from iCloud Drive (1), then appear in the Inbox (2), where you can play them as if they were podcast episodes (3).

iOS Podcast app Castro has been updated to version 3.1, and it’s got a couple of cool new features for subscribers to the Castro Plus tier of the product.

Castro now supports sideloading audio files that aren’t a part of a podcast feed, so if you’ve got a random MP3 or M4A file that you want to listen to as a part of your podcast playlist, you can add it to Castro by placing it in the Castro folder inside iCloud Drive, whether you’re on a Mac or an iOS device. Castro spots audio files placed in that folder and automatically ads them to the Inbox or Queue, depending on which you prefer.

I used this feature to preview a future episode of a podcast that had come in from an outside editor, listen to a DRM-free audiobook, and even listen to the audio of a special episode of a podcast that I pulled off of YouTube.

castro-31-select-chapters
You can choose which chapters of a podcast you want to listen to—in advance.

The other big new feature is what Castro’s creators are calling “Chapter Pre-Selection.” Lots of podcasts these days have chapter markers that break a single episode up into individual segments; with Castro 3.1, you can select which chapters you want to play—and which ones you don’t—in advance. One way to view this feature is as an easy way to skip podcast ads entirely (so long as they’re properly chaptered). That’s probably going to happen, but I like the idea that before you start a long drive you can opt out of specific topics in a podcast that you don’t consider interesting.

As a podcast creator, I build my podcasts to be listened to straight through and at 1x speed, but I know that listeners are going to want to fit my stuff into their lives in ways that I just can’t anticipate. They’ll listen at 1.5x and skip stuff and who knows what else, and that’s fine. If someone wants to skip over the Upstream segment in Upgrade every week, they can do that—though in my opinion, they’ll really be missing out.

As a podcast listener, I’m always happy to get new tools to help make my podcast listening be as customized to my desires as possible. The ability to tailor your audio experience to be exactly what you want it to be is a big reason podcasting is so much better than radio.

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