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Overcast: Podcast Player (iOS) review: Useful extras, but only if you pay for them

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Along with the rest of the features mentioned so far in this review, you can reorder the playlist of all episodes, share a podcast with a friend, and send the podcast to another supported device via AirPlay.

Buying the rest of the features

There are a few more features and controls shown onscreen when you're listening to a podcast, but they're grayed out until you pay.

After purchasing the upgrade, you'll be able to create custom playlists. During your commute, for example, you might want to hear only sports podcasts. After setting up a playlist of sports-related podcasts, you can name it Sportstalk, sort the podcasts in the order you want to hear them, and have your playlist ready for your journey. The paid app lets you create unlimited playlists so you have a lot of freedom here.

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Once you pay for the app, you'll be able to use effects, adjust the speed of playback, and more. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

While you're listening to an individual podcast, there are a few more controls onscreen. In the lower left, you can touch "Playback" to switch between continuous and one-by-one play mode. This is useful for long trips where you might want to just move on to the next podcast. One-by-one mode is great for timing a workout so you know that at the end of the podcast it's time to stop.

There's also a sleep timer in the playback controls so you can listen to a podcast as you doze off.

In the lower right corner, you can touch Effects for a few more useful features. Here you can toggle a button for Smart Speed that automatically shortens pauses in the audio to make the podcast finish faster. There's also a Voice Boost toggle that punches up the voices so you can hear them over background music or other ambient noise. A speed slider lets you speed up the podcast to more than twice the original speed while preserving the sound quality of the voices. I found that once I got closer to 2x speed it was much harder to follow, but it's a cool feature to have. You also can save your effects selections on a show-by-show basis.

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Here's a list of what you get by unlocking the full app. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Is it worth the higher price?

That really depends on how serious you are about podcasts. Overcast is an app with a simple design and great features before and after you pay the price of $4.99 (or £2.99, or AU$6.99), but you can get most everything you need in a podcast player with Downcast or iCatcher -- both of which are currently $2.99, £1.99, or AU$3.79.

I think the trade-off here is about your design preference and the paid extras. As I mentioned, Overcast has a simpler, more elegant design, while the other apps have much busier and slightly more confusing interfaces. Overcast's capability to skip silent parts of podcasts makes listening much more efficient and amplifying hard-to-hear voices is definitely useful. Are these extras worth a $2 premium? I'll leave that up to you.

In any case, Overcast Podcast Player gets the job done for free with an intuitive interface and is even better once you pay. If you can stomach paying a little more for something you might use every day, I recommend Overcast.

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