I need a little Overcast help

Like most of you – don’t try to deny it, I’ve read a lot of threads in this forum – switching software from time to time is a weakness I have. Sometimes I’ll encounter the smallest of friction points within a piece of software and I’ll immediately throw my hands up – “that’s it, I’m done with this!”. Sometimes I also just want a change of scenery.

Pocket Casts is my preferred podcast app, with Castro coming in a very close second – though they haven’t updated their app in over 5 months which is concerning. Overcast never really “clicked” for me, though I admit, the audio quality is very good.

When Overcast was redesigned a month or two ago I gave it another shot and it’s much improved in my opinion, but I can’t figure out a few things.

  1. Playlists are great, but I don’t understand how they work in terms of having an overall queue. If I have three playlists (low priority, mid tier, favourite shows) for example, how is the play order determined? I feel like I’ll have Accidental Tech and Criminal in my “favourite shows” playlist, but once Accidental Tech finishes, it skips over to a random show from another playlist. How do I ensure Criminal plays next and then after that, if there are no more shows in the “favourite shows” list, it would go then to “Mid Tier”. Or is this all managed through the “ALL” playlist – just order things the way I want in there?

  2. I also don’t like how it piles new episodes on top of the episode you’re currently listening to. For example, if I’m listening to Accidental Tech in Pocket Casts and hit pause and then come back a day later, Accidental Tech stays on the top of my list no matter how many shows have been released since. In Overcast, as new shows are added it bumps Accidental Tech down the playlist which doesn’t make sense to me – and then I’m met with the same problem from my first question – what episode is going to be played next, the one under Accidental Tech or will it go back to the top of the playlist?

In Pocket Casts there’s one queue where it clearly lays out what’s coming. In Overcast, I can never tell what’s coming next and I lose track of things quickly. I know it’s mindset related and more a problem between the user (me) and the phone, but I never really “got” it.

For #1, I haven’t quite figured out how it chooses what to go to next, but I strongly suspect it’s related to how you started playing the episode, (or started your current listening). So, if you want to listen to your “favourite shows” playlist, then try being on the “favourite shows” playlist screen when you hit play.

For #2, I’m not sure I completely understand, but you can display playlists oldest → newest in the playlist settings, would that help?

That is definitely the case. You can play the same episode from multiple locations. What it does after an episode finishes depends on where you play it from.

Also, there are playlist settings, podcast settings and episode settings, each configured from a different screen. The playlist and podcast settings interact in various ways to determine how the episodes are ordered within a playlist.

In short, when you are in a playlist, upon finishing an episode, Overcast will always choose the topmost episode in the list. If you are listening to an episode in the middle of the list, it will not chose the next episode in the list, but will jump to the top. You can use the various settings to ensure your playlist is ordered to account for that behavior. Optionally, you can even drag the episodes to reorder them.

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I use Overcast and the Apple app both: I have to say I prefer Overcast partly because I don’t have to think about it a lot, I just look at the podcasts I ‘follow’ and click on the ones I want to listen too. I found that endless lists, play next, play last yadda yadda just became a chore. I can always find the ones I want to hear on Overcast and frankly I don’t really understand how. Sometimes low tech is ‘high tech’? I treat other apps the same way now and the best ones curiously lend themselves to a low ‘fiddle factor’ approach.
On the same principle, though I have airpods pro and regular ones, I really only use the regular ones and keep the pros if I run out of battery. I would sometimes find ‘transparency’ mode to be handy but I can’t be bothered anymore. Same reasons I can’t be bothered with Homekit or whatever and why I threw Alexa in the bin. Part of the reason anyway. And yes, curiously maybe I do consider myself a Power User, why else would I be here! :disguised_face:

What gets played depends where you Press Play. If you’re in a Playlist, it’ll work from that Playlist, if you’re in a specific Podcast (i.e. the Podcasts listed in the main screen) it’ll only play episodes of that Podcast.

Playlists are added and ordered per the rules below. You can set the order in the settings (3 dots / Playlist Settings.)

The Add Podcasts determines which Podcasts are added to that playlist list and in Priority Podcasts you can choose which of the added podcasts are added at the top of the Podcast list in the order you choose, then after that ordering they are sorted in date order

E.g. If you subscribe to podcasts 1-5 and add 1-3 and 5 in “Add Podcasts” in a Playlist and in the same Playlist add 3, then 2 in “Priority Podcasts” in that order.

Any of Podcast 3 are always added to the top of that Playlists and any Podcast 2s will be next on the list after Podcast 3. Any of Podcasts 1 and 5 will then be added to the list in date order so you could end up with something like:

Podcast 3 Episode 1
Podcast 3 episode 2
Podcast 2 Episode 1
Podcast 2 Episode 2
Podcast 2 Episode 3
Podcast 1 Episode 1
Podcast 5 Episode 1
Podcast 1 Episode 2
Podcast 5 Episode 2
Podcast 5 Episode 3

Podcast 4 will never be added to this Playlist unless you manually do so.

There is a setting in Settings / Nitpicky settings “Play Top Episode Next” that if for example in the list above you were playing Podcast 5 Episode 2 and it finished, it would play Podcast 3 Episode 1 next. Switch the “Play top episode next” setting off and it will play the next episode after the one just finished (Podcast 5 Episode 3 in the example above)

You can add Podcasts ad hoc into a Playlist manually through the use of the Drawer , Three dots.

On top of all of this, you can resort the Playlist any time you want by dragging an Episode about.

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In Settings > Nitpicky Details, you’ll find a “Play Top Episode Next” option. The description that accompanies this setting (describing the ON state): “When an episode in a playlist ends, play the topmost unplayed episode next instead of the following one.”

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I completely forgot about that setting. I had set it years ago and never looked back as it works the way I want it to.

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It didn’t exist in the original version. Marco added it after lots of requests.

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In general, I think Overcast is intending you to only listen from within playlists, which is why they are very configurable. I have three lists

  • Daily is the one I always use. It has the podcasts I listen to regularly, with about half a dozen prioritised to appear at the top.
  • Occasional is for podcasts that I may listen to a handful of episodes of, so I keep them churning through this list, which each podcast keeping X episodes as befits them individually. This playlist I only use as a source for moving to my Daily list. Sometimes because Daily is empty or what’s left there is not something I’m in the mood for. Sometimes because I see a social post about episode X of one of them.
  • In Progress seemed like a good idea at the time but I basically never use it. It is what the name says, but I should just delete it.

So I basically live in my Daily list, but while this is automatically ordered for me (priority, then by recency) I also regularly drag episodes around to fit my mood (or time) for listening.

That “occasional” list is a good idea. I’ve had much less time for podcast listening over the past week, and I expect that may continue for days or weeks longer. That means my podcast queue is getting out of hand and I need new tricks for triaging episodes.

And I agree that an “In Progress” list would be useless for me. I am only ever listening to one podcast episode at a time. I either listen to it until it’s done, or delete it if I’ve lost interest.

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In progress can come in handy at other points in time also. e.g. you haven’t listened to podcasts at all for 3-4 days and you’ve forgotten what you were listening to. Especially handy when jumping in the car and CarPlay pops up showing a screen full of podcasts. Instead of trying to remember where you were – “In Progress”.

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I do something Similar. I have a “First” list which hold my priority podcasts,

Then an all podcasts playlist. Every subscribed podcast is on this, and if my first list is running low, I’ll add a few from the All Podcasts list.

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And if you finish a whole playlist and click “play” again on your Bluetooth headphones, Overcast will start playing from the top playlist on your screen.

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As another app nomad from time to time, I switch between Overcast and Pocket Casts every year or so, but always find my way back to Overcast.

I was a bit worried about Pocket Casts with the change of ownership, but see they are back to regular releases and new features, adding Folders over the past few days. Might have to take a quick look.

Yes, I have the same issues and I don’t skip from one podcast to another, I do sometimes these days just stop listening to a particular one, a recent development for me. I find that once I have got to the ‘queue is getting out of hand’, I NEVER get back really without a complete rejig, usually unfollowing several, some of which do, I notice, creep back onto the list.
I am supposed, as part of a study program, to be listening to a particular set of neurology, virology and biology podcasts, I am finding it a real chore though there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the podcasts and were I doing it for ‘entertainment’ I would be up all night listening to them.