By Jason Snell
March 12, 2021 11:42 AM PT
Running with the new Overcast watch app
My podcast app of choice, Overcast, was recently updated and now features a brand-new Apple Watch app. According to Overcast developer Marco Arment, not a lot of Overcast users use the watch app, but I do—several times a week, when I run.
The new Overcast Apple Watch is great. I have a cellular watch and when I run, I’m using it in standalone mode—I bring my AirPods Pro, but I leave my iPhone at home. The problem with the old Overcast watch app was that it was conceived in an era where the Apple Watch was much more tethered to the iPhone than it needs to be today.
Before I would go for a run, I would always open up the Overcast app on my watch and on my iPhone in order to make absolutely sure that the watch app was up to date with my latest podcasts. That’s because while the watch app was capable of streaming podcast audio via cellular, it relied on the iPhone for its database of what podcasts were available. If I didn’t make sure the watch synced to the iPhone before leaving the hosue, sometimes I’d end having to listen to stale podcasts when I knew fresher episodes were out there.
The new Overcast watch app doesn’t rely on the iPhone at all. Instead, it downloads its own copy straight from the Overcast servers, complete with a reload button to force an update right then and there! The interface for viewing what’s available on the watch for standalone playback has also been improved, with a much clearer display of which episodes are available for streaming and which ones have already been downloaded straight to the watch. You can also now adjust playback speed and move between chapters on the watch, whether you’re in standalone mode or are just using the app as a remote control for Overcast playback on your iPhone.
The only reason I am able to run several times a week is because I’m able to focus on my podcasts instead of putting one foot in front of another. And even better, it’s all without an iPhone weighing down my shorts pocket. The new version of Overcast makes that process dramatically better.
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