Overcast adds fantastic new podcast recommendations feature

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News, iPhone apps, iPad apps, podcasts
News, iPhone apps, iPad apps, podcasts
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Overcast, the podcast app of choice for lovers of good design, powerful-yet-straightforward features, and the color orange, just added a brand-new recommendations feature.

Previously, Overcast used a Twitter-based recommendation engine. But developer Marco Arment says almost nobody used it. Now, he’s replaced it with recommendations based on users’ personal listening habits, and the result is amazing. I already added a few new podcast subscriptions based on its suggestions.

Overcast's new personalized podcast recommendations.
Overcast’s new personalized recommendations.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Overcast is a great podcast-listening app, thanks to its emphasis on design and privacy. It’s incredibly easy to use, with a really intuitive user interface that never gets in the way. Standout features include Smart Speed (which cuts out silences) and Voice Boost (which pumps up spoken audio). Overcast also works great with the Apple Watch.

Overcast podcast recommendations

Overcast podcast recommendations are grouped by genre.
The updated app groups its podcast recommendations by genre.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The app’s old recommendation feature was based on Twitter. You’d add your Twitter account to Overcast, and it would generate suggestions based on your Twitter stream. The problem was, nobody used it. From Marco’s blog post on the new feature:

[A]fter five years, only 10% of active users have connected a Twitter account in Overcast, and only 0.2% of new podcast subscriptions have actually been added via Twitter recommendations.

Meanwhile, Overcast spent those five years collecting popularity data from podcast subscriptions. The new feature uses this data to make recommendations

Podcasts in the new “Suggestions for You” section of the Add Podcast screen are based on the shows you subscribe to, and what else their subscribers subscribe to, which gives much better recommendations without involving any social networks.

Not only don’t you have to use Twitter, you don’t have to do anything. Recommendations just appear. Tap the + button to add a new subscription, and you will see Overcast’s recommendations sitting at the top of the screen, just below the search bar.

Podcast recommendations by genre

Some music recommendations.
Some music recommendations.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

There are top recommendations, and also podcast suggestions broken down by genre: comedy, arts, tech, society & culture, plus a lot more. There are also podcast collections, groups of podcasts that you can subscribe to with a single tap.

As I mentioned, I already added a few podcasts to my subscriptions, as well as downloading a few individual sample episodes (both are easy to do from the recommendation lists). Because podcast subscriptions are somewhat precious — our listening time is limited, so we really have to keep a short list — people tend to keep very tightly curated lists. And that means that these recommendations are equally well-pruned. The result is a high-quality set of suggestions.

I really, really dig the new recommendations in Overcast. You should check it out.

Overcast

Price: Free

Download: Overcast from the App Store (iOS)