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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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Castro podcast player (and moving on from it)

I am an avid podcast listener and have been a long term fan of Pocket Casts. I’ve even paid for their web-app even though I don’t use it much, coz I liked their iOS and Android apps and wanted to support them.

However I also get bored of using the same thing again and again :) and I also wanted some way to manage my unlistened to podcasts. I tend to subscribe to a lot of podcasts (well at least I used to, I cut down on a lot now) and it is difficult to make time to listen to podcasts, audio books, and music – so I also wanted some way of keeping a “handle” on the podcasts. There are some podcasts that I would like to listen to every episode of, there are some podcasts I listen to in the background while working or doing other things, and there are some podcasts I listen to actively but I don’t necessarily want to listen to all episodes. I tried using playlists in Pocket Casts for this but that didn’t work out well; and I also tried other apps like Overcast (in combination with Pocket Casts so I have some podcasts on Overcast) but that didn’t work out well either. In fact, most people seem to rave about Overcast, but I didn’t like it much. The UI isn’t that great, and I generally found it confusing & cumbersome (don’t ask me what I found confusing – I just did).

Fast forward to last month and I discovered Castro. That was a great find and I loved their triage interface. Now I had the podcasts that I listen to in the background or which I wanted to listen all episodes to in Pocket Casts, and the ones I wanted to listen to actively but pick and choose episodes in Castro. I subscribed to the podcast of the creators too and overall it was a pleasant experience.

Some small niggles though. Castro seems to suck at downloading. Maybe it was my home WiFi coz it seemed to be ok over 4G/ LTE (and it blew up my allowance in the process last month!) but Pocket Casts had no issue downloading over the same WiFi so I am not sure. I also didn’t like the fact that when I wrote to their support address regarding this issue no one replied. It’s not a biggie but it put me off.

This past weekend however I came across a big niggle that totally put me off. I knew that Castro was an iOS only app and considering I am an iOS and Android user that’s something I was willing to put up with coz I liked Castro. But on the weekend I took out one of my other iPhones and discovered that Castro doesn’t do any sort of sync between iPhones either. That was a bummer! It can restore my subscriptions and episodes from the other phone but there’s no way to keep the two in sync. This was a biggie for me as I like to be able to keep things in sync at least within iOS. I like to change phones around and use multiple devices, so keeping things in sync is a basic necessity in my books (or at least I realized so this weekend). Castro, I love your interface and way of handling podcasts, but as long as you don’t have some way of keeping my subscriptions and progress in sync I am sorry I won’t be able to use you. :( Yes I don’t need it on a regular basis but that’s something I draw a line at in terms of not wanting to be tied down to a device.

So today I went back to Pocket Casts. Added all the episodes and subscriptions back to Pocket Casts and created playlists etc again. Dunno if I will be able to continue listening to podcasts as quickly as I was with Castro (coz of the triage interface where I could pick and choose and discard easily) but let’s see. Got to try again!

Update: Trying out Overcast in conjunction with Pocket Casts (i.e. as a replacement for the role previously filled by Castro basically). Thing with Pocket Casts is that even though I can make playlists I can’t sort them my way. It’s either oldest to newest, or reverse. There’s a few podcasts I am catching up on and I would like to have them in between my regular episodes, and there’s no way to do that with Pocket Casts. But I can do so with Overcast so thought I’d try again. So many people recommend it (including the Packet Pushers podcast whose weekly episode from yesterday had Greg and Ethan mention Overcast as being great) I must try again in case the issue is one of me being stubborn.

One niggle with Overcast though is that I can’t have some podcasts sorted a different way (unlike Pocket Casts). So it’s either everything sorted oldest to newest or newest to oldest. I can sort playlists however I want, including custom reordering (which is such a pleasure on Castro BTW – love their drag and drop!) so it’s not really a big deal.