Pocket Casts client goes open source

Pocket Casts is one of my favorite podcasts apps. I seem to switch between Pocket Casts and Overcast several times a year. I’m currently using Overcast.

Going open source like this can sometimes be a prelude to a vendor abandoning an app entirely. And sometimes it’s not.


Exciting! I’ll be sure to look over the repo over the next few days.

This isn’t the same as open sourcing a Mac program. Someone will have to use the code to create an app and submit it to the App Store. I’d say Pocket Casts hasn’t long to live.

Yeah. Cost is pretty minimal ($100-ish a year?), but it would be a hassle. And it would have to have a “champion” of some sort that would be willing to keep up with iOS updates.

I love PocketCasts and have used it consistently for years. Unfortunately I don’t feel the need to subscribe to their premium service - none of the additional features are of interest. I don’t know if the Discover tab generates significant income (if any) from podcasts seeking to be promoted.

Hopefully, it’s merely a way of broadening the project contributors. I’m sure a company somewhere would be willing to support the cost of basic upkeep given the (I assume) substantial user base.

Automattic open sources their software where practical and continues to run them. Here’s SimpleNote’s list of Github projects, for example. SimpleNote was acquired in 2013.

SinpleNote hasn’t seen as much recent development as Pocket Casts, of course. It’s a significantly simpler app.


Automattic manages one of the biggest and most successful open source projects–Wordpress. So open sourcing Pocket Casts may be a positive step.


I’ve been using Pocket Casts for a few months now and I’m really liking it.
I hope this is good news.

If it’s sunsetted, I’ll go back to Overcast.

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Thanks for the positive news. I am very happy with Pocket Casts and plan to use it until it stops running on my phone!

An encouraging message from Matt Mullenweg, boss and founder of Automattic, which now owns Pocket Casts:

Particularly encouraging is hIs statement that developers have been preparing the code for open source. I’ve heard that from other developers who successfully took proprietary code open source–you have to revise and document the code to make it legible to other coders, who will not be familiar with your internal processes.

A sensible attitude! I am baffled by enthusiasts who say they’re going to abandon an app because it hasn’t been updated. As long as it’s working, why bother switching?


I see some wondering if this means the beginning of the end for Pocketcasts. It does not. This is just what Automatic (who bought them) does with their stuff. I saw Marco (who created Overcast) thought this was as good thing as if we see some more apps it might create another wall between these apps and the coming closed Podcast ecosystem that Spotify, Audacy, etc are trying to build.

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As a former WP front-end dev, and after seeing how things were going at Automattic leading up to the Gutenberg rollout, I have very little confidence that PocketCasts will remain viable/usable for much longer. More likely to get rolled into something else, transmogrified, diluted. I have similar fears for DayOne, which will bring me endless headaches if it stops doing what my wife needs.

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Can you be any more specific about what there is to dislike with the Gutenberg rollout, which I think has been ongoing for a number of years?

A lot of devs felt like it was something no one was asking for, and the response from on high was “we know what is good for you.” Rubbed a lot of us the wrong way, and we saw nothing but headaches in the future for customer support. They also botched the handling of accessibility at around the same time. I haven’t used WordPress for at least four years, and I doubt I ever will again.

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I use WordPress for one of my blogs, and hate the Gutenberg editor. It seems to have been designed by a person who has never tried to write more than a single paragraph.

WordPress seems to be pivoting from a blogging platform to a web publishing platform for business. Maybe Guttenberg is good for that business case. And I can see the business rationale for the changed strategy, as there does not seem to be a lot of demand for personal blogging platforms. However, I find the change disappointing.

Moreover, Automattic now has Tumblr as a personal blogging platform, and they seem to be doing a very good job managing Tumblr. Previous owners Verizon and Yahoo seemed to want to stamp out Tumblr’s weirdness, while Automattic apparently bought Wordpress because Matt Mullenweg loves the weirdness.

However, I don’t know if Tumblr will ever be main stream the way WordPress has been. Moreover, Tumblr seems to be making its online editor into more of a block editor – more Gutenberg like.

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Isn’t that one of the things people either love or hate about the Craft note taking app? Blocks?

Yup. Put me in the “hate” camp. I started using word processors with WordStar in the early 1980s. I see no benefit to block editors, and they confuse nearly 40 years of muscle memory for me.

I worked extensively with WP during the Gutenberg introduction… and it created a lot of end user confusion and added unnecessary complexity. We went from “type in a box” to block selection and management (and often confusing front end results). In the end I turned it off via a plug-in. I’m not sure what the rationale was given there were already a bunch of block editors available for WP for those who wanted them… their version didn’t add anything to the party.

Hopefully PocketCasts will remain in the “if it ain’t broke” category.

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I think the underlying reason was to do what the other editors do, but built-in. Kind of like when Apple “sherlocks” things and builds them into the OS.

The problem with Gutenberg is that I don’t think it actually even comes close to approaching the functionality of the other available tools.

And honestly, there’s a pretty vocal contingent in the WordPress open source community that are user-hostile if those users aren’t on the “progress” train. Gutenberg wasn’t rolled out as an option within core, it was rolled out as the editor within core. Disabling it requires a plugin, albeit a plugin provided by Automattic themselves, which is described:

Classic Editor is an official WordPress plugin, and will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary.

The intent is clearly to force people to use Gutenberg. Hence, other plugins are now available that duplicate that functionality as I think people don’t trust Automattic’s determination of “as long as necessary”. :slight_smile:


In CMSes, block editors are a really useful way to put content in a flexible structure that is pixel-perfect on the front end without requiring authors to worry about HTML or about going back and fixing old pages when the design is tweaked. It’s most appropriate for page- or guide-type content and one set of fields that repeats once in its template, and is reused elsewhere in the site, is better for entering almost everything else.

The challenge from note-taking of when to interrupt a block with a different type of block (pull quotes, forms, etc.) remains, but if authors accept that varying elements let the page look nicer and perform better, and understand that the blocks’ fields give them good layout for free, they’re usually happy to break up an article. Improvements are still possible. Gutenberg’s attempt to make block boundaries appear invisible isn’t a bad approach to this in theory, but in practice, experienced authors and editors would rather see more explicit borders between blocks.

The classic editor holds back a lot of sites.

Measured by developer happiness, ACF Pro has better field definition and templating implementation than Gutenberg. A few of the third party editors also have better workflows (not many, though.)

Craft CMS (no relation to the Craft notes app) has my favorite implementation of flexible content with its Matrix fields and the way it integrates Twig templating. The third party flexible content plugins are just as nice to use because Craft gets field design, selection and re-arrangement right at the system level, so plugin developers don’t feel the need to re-implement admin UI.