Casterly ($2.99) by Burnish Software Pty. Ltd. is a new podcast player that focuses on both discovery and old favorites. It seems that podcast apps are all the rage lately, especially with the release of Overcast a few weeks ago. Casterly is another recent addition, and it joins the ranks of other apps, including Pocket Casts, Instacast, Castro, Downcast, Mocast, Podcasts, and more.
I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, as I subscribe to about 20 of them and listen to them daily (or weekly for some). For months, I’ve used Pocket Casts ever since they came out with the big 4.0 update, but it has recently been dethroned with Overcast. Despite this, I’m always on the lookout for new apps, and I was intrigued when I stumbled on to Casterly in the App Store, so I decided to give it a try.
Casterly features a simple and natural interface that feels right at home with the iOS 7 aesthetics that we’ve come to love (or hate). The light white theme makes it easy to read the text for the podcast episode names and show notes, and the bright accent colors for each section stand out nicely. I found Casterly to be quick to responses, and there are slick transitions between views. Casterly is also intuitive to use, so it’s easy to pick it up and get started, though there is a brief tutorial to show you the ropes.
To get the most out of Casterly, you’ll want to link up your Twitter account for read-only access, as well as to create an account for syncing. This is done so that podcast episodes that your friends tweet about will show up in the “Inbox” tab. This is primarily used for discovery of new shows that you may not have heard about before, which is always good if you’re in the mood for something different. This feature of Casterly is dependent on who you follow on Twitter as well — it works best if you follow a lot of other podcast fans. In the future, more sign up options.
If you’ve been using another podcast player, you are able to import your subscriptions as an OPML file, and they will show up in the “Subscriptions” tab. To add a new subscription, just tap on the “Add Subscriptions” button. A list of podcasts that have been mentioned from your Twitter timeline appears, and you can easily mark off the ones you want to subscribe to. But if you are looking for something else, then you can search by keyword. Results for your inquiry are delivered in real-time, so there’s no wasted time.
When you want to find out more about a specific show, just tap on it. From here, you can subscribe or unsubscribe, and get a full episode list. Just swipe to the left on an episode to add it to the playlist queue. Unlike other apps, like Overcast, there aren’t any smart playlist features, so the single playlist is basically the “up next” queue.
When you are viewing the Twitter recommendations, you can swipe left to add it to the playlist, or swipe right to subscribe to a show. Tapping on an episode will begin playback of it. On these recommendations, you can always see the show and episode name, excerpt of the show notes, and who tweeted about it.
Regardless of the view you’re in, a tap on the headphones in the top right corner takes you to the “Now Playing” screen. Here, you’ll find the podcast artwork front-and-center, along with an audio scrubber bar underneath it, with standard playback controls. You can go back 15 seconds in the audio, or skip ahead by 30 seconds. The amount of time jumped can be changed in the app settings. There is also a bar at the bottom for quickly adjusting the device volume. Episodes can be streamed or downloaded to your device.
Episodes can be shared with the Share Sheet, or you can add an episode to the playlist or open show notes in Safari (full show notes are not available within Casterly).
To get to the settings for the app, just tap on the “hamburger” button when you’re viewing the main screens. You can toggle automatic downloads, get the bookmarklet, import or export, and change playback settings. The playback options include continuous playback, auto-play, and increasing and decreasing the skip back or forward intervals.
Casterly is pretty polished so far, considering that this isn’t even a full 1.0 version yet (at the time of this writing, it’s version 0.6.5). The developer has plans for improving it in the future once more users are on board, such as other sign-in options and more refinements to the recommendation engine.
While I will personally stick with Overcast, Casterly seems suitable for users who are more about finding new podcasts and just want a single playlist of shows to listen to, rather than all of the extra power-user features found in other apps.
I recommend giving Casterly a look if you need a podcast player that is simple and straightforward to use. You can get Casterly on the iPhone App Store for $2.99.