23rd April 2019

For quite a few years now, I’ve been using Overcast as my podcast app of choice. It’s a great app, and it’s praised by basically anyone that uses it. However, I had never really used an alternative. So I wasn’t sure if I really was using the best app that was on offer.

After doing a bit of research, and hearing about it in the past, I decided on Castro. It’s the app that I’ve seen the most talked about online, second to only Overcast.

As I mentioned on my journal entries on April 8th and 9th, one of the best features of Castro, in my opinion, is the focus that’s put into queuing episodes. And in particular, the idea of triaging new episodes, so that you can have a more refined queue. This helped me a lot, as I was getting to a place where I had so many episodes build up in my list, that I didn’t know what to listen to next. And in some cases, there were episodes that I knew that I would never get around to listen to, but I just didn’t want to remove them.

Starting with an import of my subscription from Overcast via the export/import OPML files in both apps, the Inbox in Castro was filled up with the most recent episodes of all my subscriptions. From there I started assigning each episode to either the top/bottom of the queue, or removing it from the list. This resulted in a pretty small queue, I think it was around 6 episodes, and my list would usually be around 20 in Overcast.

As new episodes continually appeared in the Inbox, I found it rather easy to sort through them, and pick out the episodes I wanted to listen to. It seems strange, but this feature alone made me listen to many more podcasts. It removed some of the unnecessary choice, so I could always find something I wanted to listen to. Because of the queuing, and the fact that you prioritise episodes in the queue when triaging the Inbox, it’s always ready whenever you just want to jump in a quickly listen to something. Or maybe in the morning, when you haven’t quite woken up yet, but you still want something for the commute.

I did think I would miss the two great enhancements that Overcast offers, Voice Boost and Smart Speed. However, Castro have their own versions, Enhance Voices and Trim Silence. I didn’t notice any difference in this regard. So either, they both work with a similar level of quality, or I just don’t notice the feature on either apps. Either way, it’s not an issue for me.

One thing I did notice about playback though, was when resuming an episode, I really missed Overcast’s “Smart Resume”. It’s really handy when you pause in the middle of a word, because Overcast will rewind slightly to the gap before the word. It sounds like a minuscule feature, but you soon get used to it.

Something else that caused me a bit of friction when I first started using Castro, was the way you found the show notes of an episode. In Castro, you swipe left → right and “activate” the Info button, which launches the show notes above the current context. However, I was really used to the interface in Overcast, where you swiped right → left to view the show notes, and then once more to view the chapters (if the episode had them). These are nothing major, and are mostly caused by muscle memory.

After using Castro as my podcast app for a while, I was in a situation where I wanted to listen to a podcast on my iPad. And that is when I discovered the lack of Castro! So after all the benefits I found with the queuing feature, the nice refreshing interface, and also a few pain-points, I literally couldn’t use the app anymore. I kept using the Castro app on my phone for a few days, but I had to stop, because managing two podcast apps would be crazy.

In conclusion, I would like to state that I really like Castro. And while there are a few things that I was used to in Overcast, that caused friction when using Castro, the overall experience was great. I just can’t use an app on iOS that isn’t universal anymore. I’ve gone back to Overcast for now, and I’m going to try and take small things I’ve learned from triaging episodes in Castro, so I can better handle my podcast list. But I’m always going to be hoping for the day when Castro comes to the iPad.

10 responses to “My Experience Using Castro as My Primary Podcast App”

  1. grayareas says:

    @ChrisHannah Give it a try! I think Pocket Casts is an excellent app. And I like that it’s also available for Android — I’ve recommended it to a lot of my non-iOS friends with good results. 🎧

    I use Castro too for a small list of my absolute favorite pods because its queue functionality is superior, and I love that when traveling. And I also love and use Castro’s awesome side-loading audio functionality. 🎧

  2. fiona says:

    @ChrisHannah Listening now and loving it!

  3. ChrisHannah says:

    @fiona I’m sure you’ll love it! It’s a great app.

  4. ChrisHannah says:

    @grayareas I haven’t tried Pocketcasts yet, I may have to give it a go at some point!

  5. ChrisHannah says:

    @Burk I totally agree! It’s my favourite part of Castro.

  6. fiona says:

    @ChrisHannah Just downloaded Castro because of your review! I was still using Apple Podcasts until now. 😳 This is just what I needed for those podcasts where I don’t want to listen to every episode.

  7. grayareas says:

    @ChrisHannah I have long been a Pocketcasts user, as I had some issues with Overcast in years past. But this year I’ve found myself using Castro more and more. I love how it puts the queue at the center of the listening experience. It’s a terrific app.

  8. Burk says:

    @ChrisHannah sums it up nicely! I’ve found Castro to be a great “personal trainer” to change the way I was using podcasts. Very helpful! Makes that feeling of “keep every episode just in case” slowly dissipate.

  9. ChrisHannah says:

    @johnjohnston thanks!
    I wish I was the same, Castro is a great app.

  10. johnjohnston says:

    @ChrisHannah great review. I am happy with Castro, love the triage. As I only listen to podcasts on my phone it suits me perfectly.

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