An update to my YouTube To Overcast shortcut, thanks to Xipeng Li on Twitter. He updated the shortcut adding a “Get Name” action to pull the title of the video and use it to automatically populate the file name prompt. I made a minor adjustment to his version — changing the file name formatting — and you can find my latest version of the shortcut here.
Marco Arment, on the recent major update to Overcast:
Since Voice Boost is mostly about high-quality volume analysis and loudness normalization, I went straight to the top, implementing the ITU BS.1770–4 standard that gives us the LUFS measurement seen in high-end audio editors. […]
Voice Boost 2 normalizes all podcasts to –14 LUFS — a level I chose because it closely matches the volume of Siri and most iOS turn-by-turn navigation voices, so when you’re listening to a podcast while driving, navigation interruptions are less jarring.
Most professionally produced podcasts are already mastered to similar volume levels, so Voice Boost 2 won’t overcompress them with aggressive processing — it’ll only apply as much correction as necessary to make them all the same volume.
I never used Voice Boost prior to this update, I just didn’t like how it sounded. But this update is absolutely fantastic, I forget I’m even using Voice Boost at all. When I toggle it, though, I can really hear the difference — especially on podcasts with lower production quality.
Having a little one at home means that I’ve found myself more frequently listening to YouTube videos. Throughout the day, I’ll check my subscriptions and my recommended videos, save them to my watch later list, and then listen to them with my AirPods as I rock Josh to sleep for his nap. I pay for YouTube Premium, so I’m able to play videos in the background, but I thought I could do better.
There’s just so many videos on YouTube that don’t really need the video component. Whether they be information videos or talk shows, often times you can get by without the visuals. For those videos, the YouTube app is a bit heavier than what is necessary for listening. Something like Overcast with its Smart Speed feature, is a much better solution. Smart Speed strips silences from the audio, essentially skipping the pauses within a conversation. This allows you to listen to a podcast episode or uploaded audio file in less time, without having the distortion that comes from increasing the speed in the traditional sense.
So I put together a shortcut — Push To Overcast — that lets me download a video from YouTube, convert it to an audio file, and then easily upload it to Overcast.
This does require an Overcast Premium account, which gives you the ability to upload audio files through the website and then listen to the file through the app. It’s not the most elegant solution in the world — just a bit more work moving the file around than I’d prefer. Other podcast clients have the ability to sideload audio files from the Files app or import YouTube videos from Safari. But Overcast is a much better podcast client overall, so I’m willing to put up with this little annoyance.
The shortcut utilizes UPull.me to download the YouTube videos. I don’t know too much about the site or who built it, but it’s the best method I’ve found for downloading videos from YouTube. Every other method I’ve tried has failed with some videos and I’ve never really understood why. UPull.me has worked with everything I’ve thrown at it, though.
Before using the shortcut, you’ll need to add a folder named “Overcast” to the Shortcuts folder of your iCloud Drive. That folder will be used to temporarily store the audio file while uploading.
After initiating the shortcut from the share sheet, the video is downloaded, it’s converted to an audio file, Shortcuts asks you to rename it, and it’s saved to /Shortcuts/Overcast/ — the folder you created above. From there, the shortcut opens the Overcast webpage where you can initiate the upload. After it completes, you tap the “Done” button and the shortcut will automatically delete the file for you.
Here’s a quick little video demo showing how it works:
You can add Push To Overcast to Shortcuts and use it as is or you can make your own modifications and make it work exactly how you want it to. And if you have any ideas for how to improve it, I’d love to hear about them — you can reach out to me with any thoughts you have.
Update 2/20/20:Xipeng Li reached out on Twitter with an updated version of the shortcut. His version grabs the name from the YouTube video and automatically populates it in the file name prompt. I didn’t realize that you could use the “Get Name” action on the contents of a URL. I made a slight change to the formatting of the name prompt that he added — I preferred to omit the “YouTube -“ that he added. If you’d like to use his version, you can find it at the link above or you can download my latest version from here.
Update 7/15/20:Upull.me has made some changes to their APIs that broke the previous version of the shortcut. So I’ve updated the link to a new version that should function again.
Overcast now offers its own data-driven recommendation engine, and I’ve removed Twitter integration entirely.
Podcasts in the new “Suggestions for You” section of the Add Podcast screen are based on the shows you subscribe to, and what else their subscribers subscribe to, which gives much better recommendations without involving any social networks.
Most importantly, it works for all of Overcast’s customers.
The new recommendation system seems far more effective than the previous Twitter-powered version. I’ve already added a new subscription to my rotation and I expect I’ll check the list from time-to-time to see if there are any new shows I’d like to listen to.
With today’s 2019.4 update, you can now share audio or video clips, up to a minute each, from any public podcast. Simply tap the share button in the upper-right corner.
You can generate an audio clip, or portrait, landscape, or square video, using your current Overcast theme setting.
I’ve seen a ton of podcast clips in my Twitter timeline as a result of this update and I hope that trend continues. Podcasting is such an incredible medium, but it’s historically been very difficult to share them. Having a tool like this is a big step in the right direction.
And I really appreciate how considerate Marco has been with this feature. None of these clips are being hosted on Overcast’s servers. Instead, the app generates video files that you can share directly. Or, when sharing with a link, the file is still downloaded from the podcast’s server itself and then the web player seeks to the proper starting position. its a pretty slick implementation.
Another great update to my favorite podcast client on iOS. This one features two major privacy enhancements — anonymous sync by default and the blocking of ad-tracking images in show notes. Both of these are fantastic and show that Marco cares deeply about the privacy of his app’s users. But the most exciting feature for me, is listed under bug fixes:
Password-protected episodes are now supported on password-protected feeds.
An incredible update to my favorite podcast app. It features Smart Resume, the option to delete episodes 24 hours after completion, and support for some password-protected feeds. If you already use Overcast, get the update now. And if you don’t, this is a great time to consider switching.
I was really excited about support for password-protected feeds. I subscribe to the Wrestling Observer and listen to many of their shows, but the only way to get those episodes into Overcast has been to utilize the premium-only uploads feature. I built a workflow to help with the process, but it’s still tedious. My hopes were high, but upon testing it with the Wrestling Observer’s feeds, it looks like Overcast’s system doesn’t work for the shows I listen to. They must be using some alternative authentication method that Overcast doesn’t support. Maybe that will change in a future update, but until then, I’m stuck using my old process.
Smart Resume, on the other hand, is exactly the type of feature that has kept me using Overcast. Adjusting the seek point to add context and minimize resumes in the middle of words is such a great little detail that subtly improves my listening experience.