December 19, 2017

Castro 2: A Review

Ever since the release of Castro 2 I had been very interested in trying it out. The triage model is very different from how Overcast handles its play queue. However, the threshold to actually make the switch has always been too high. An exported OPML only gets you so far. It doesn’t sync unplayed/played status for example. A couple of weeks back when I somehow managed to empty my podcast queue I took the leap.


The way Castro handles new episodes is pretty different from other podcast players I’ve tried. They have something they call “Triage”. All new episodes end up in the “Inbox”, from which they can be played, added to the start or end of the the play queue or archived.

At the start I strived for “Inbox Zero”. This is not really an ideal way of managing your play queue, at least not for me. In Overcast I had gotten used to having a priority playlist that somewhat resembled my preferred order of playback. But sometimes things got out of order and I had to manually jump around my playlist.

With Castro I have 2-3 items in the play queue at any time. Episodes that I do not wish to listen to (The Incomparable for example, has episodes in which they talk about things I am not interested in) go straight to the archive. Usually when I’m about to listen to podcasts I estimate how long time I’ll have for listening, and try to prioritize a queue based on the time available.

This works great, as I’m often out and about on the farm fixing things or walking three or more dogs. Often in bad weather (this is southern Sweden after all), so not having to take out the phone to pick the next thing I want to listen to is great.

It took a while to get used to and figure out how it works best for me. But now I love it.

Castro also has great drag and drop support on iOS 11. I do not use this a lot, but when I need to do some batch-editing it’s fantastic.

Other Neat Things

  • When streaming on cellular the folks at Supertop were smart enough to play a little text-to-speech clip telling you to tap play (on your headset for example) to confirm cellular streaming of the next episode. I wish that this could be defaulted to yes though.
  • The “Enhanced Audio” feature works really well.
  • The Watch app is nice and does what it’s supposed to.
  • When you pause an episode in it’s last ten minutes you get a notification that gives you the option to skip to the next one right away.
  • The rich push notifications when a new episodes arrives makes triage from the lock screen (or wrist) very efficient.

Update: As @ozlubing pointed out, there is actually no Watch app. What I’m referring to is the “automatically on” Now Playing screen in watchOS 4!

Minor Annoyances

  • The biggest annoyance, when coming from Overcast, is the lack of a Smart Speed™ like feature. Something I still haven’t really gotten used to being without. I hadn’t realized just how much silence there is in some podcasts.
  • I know it’s a contentious topic, but I do love me some 3D Touch. It’s just so satisfying to peek, and a neat way to preview things without moving my finger too much. It’s a small thing, but the fact that there’s no 3D Touch support at all trips me up sometimes when triaging. Being able to quickly peek at the show notes to decide whether or not a specific episodes goes to the archive would be nice.
  • I still have Overcast installed and comparing the notifications for the apps I can see that Overcast is generally quicker to pick up new episodes. Only really annoying when I’m waiting for the latest episode of The Daily to land before I take the dogs on a lunch walk.
  • Episodes in the archive do not download preemptively. I only have 2MBits of shaky ADSL at home. So sometimes it’s a bummer that there’s no setting to always download episodes in the inbox.

Final Thoughts

The UI took a while getting used to and navigating. But now that I’ve been using the app for a while and adapted my listening habits I find it unlikely that I’d go back. I don’t have anything against Overcast, but I think I like Castro better.

Castro is a fantastically well-made app. The guys at Supertop seem like genuinely great people. The only thing I really miss is silence removal, something I hope is added in the future.

Regardless of whether you use Castro or not, if you’re an indie developer in general, and an iOS developer in particular, you should give the Supertop Podcast a listen. It’s pretty great!

The links to the App Store in this post are affiliate links and will give me a small kickback if you buy the linked item following the link. Link.