What’s up with the Apple Watch and not having a good Podcast app? This is an incredibly large opportunity for Apple, but they don’t have an official app. They also don’t let developers create a fully featured app with things like – sync, subscriptions, and even volume control. That said, we might be getting close. Introducing Outcast for Apple Watch. While it doesn’t magically fix these limitations, but the app does work within current constraints in a way that makes it usable. Ideally, we would like a podcast player that would support streaming on Wi-Fi and cellular and also allows syncing the episode progress between devices. It should also offer subscriptions and alerts for new episodes. But like I said – third party developers can’t do anything for us yet.
What you can do though, is download episodes in a one-off type fashion, and then play them back over wireless headphones. Outcast provides an extremely user-friendly version of this. Outcast is made more approachable thanks to audio and visual cues thoughtfully placed throughout the app. For example, Outcast includes two sample “episodes” that explain how the app works and how to add new episodes.
Third-party watch apps can’t control volume either, which is a limitation that isn’t obvious to users. Outcast addresses this by putting a fake volume control on-screen that explains how to use Apple’s Now Playing app to adjust volume. After one tap, this fake button can be hidden too like other visual hints. Outcast also thoughtfully makes suggestions when searching for a podcast episode to add. You can search by voice or with Apple’s Scribble text drawing method, and Outcast includes search suggestions to popular podcast networks like Relay FM and Gimlet as well.
When you do find the right podcast episode to play, Outcast will allow you to download it for future playback and it also shows a progress bar with the file size amounts included. The progress can be slow, but when your Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone, it will default to Bluetooth transfer. If you turn off the Bluetooth connection, you will notice that the download speeds dramatically increase. If you’re away from your iPhone, Outcast will allow you to download episodes over your cellular network. This only works on the Apple Watch Series 3 models, which have LTE enabled. Depending on the network, these speeds can be incredibly fast.
There is a companion app for the iPhone that automatically lets you import or export your subscription library and then specifically paste podcast URLs for adding. But you don’t necessarily need to use the iPhone app, as the Apple Watch app works just fine.
A few other nice-to-have features include
- Nine color theme options
- Customizable skip duration between 5 seconds and 1 minute 30 seconds (and skip back and forward can be set independently)
- Digital Crown scrubs forward and backward with four-speed options
- Playback speed can be set between 0.5x and 2.0x
Is this something that you would use? Or are you already using it? Let us know how it works for you, or if you even listen to podcasts on your Apple Watch. The app will cost you $0.99 from the App Store, but it is a really good way to listen to podcasts on your Watch now. If and when Apple will come up with their own version remains to be seen.