Listen to Audiobooks with the Overcast Podcast App on iOS

I’m a big fan of Marco Arment’s Overcast, which has become the only podcast app I use on iOS. The most useful feature is the Smart Speed adjustment, which speeds up podcasts by eliminating small bits of silence. I listen to many of my podcast at around 1.5x, and they sound just find, not at all like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

One thing I had long wished Overcast could do was play audiobooks, to take advantage of the Smart Speed feature. Most audiobook players let you speed up playback, but only at set increments, such as 1.25, 1.5, 2, etc. But Overcast’s the Smart Speed feature increases the speed more flexibly, and the different settings, taking advantage of the silences that are eliminated, aren’t fixed intervals, but change depending on the audio file you listen to.

The latest update to Overcast allows paying users to upload up to 2 GB of files to Overcast’s server, then stream or download them to the app. (Overcast is free for its basic features; it offers a voluntary patronage model which unlock this feature, along with a new dark theme.)

So how do you listen to audiobooks with Overcast? You can only use audiobooks that don’t have DRM; books that you’ve ripped from CDs or downloaded without DRM. But it’s a real annoyance to have lots of little files, as is generally the case on CDs.

Doug Adams has long sold an app called Join Together, which can stich up a bunch of small files into larger files to make it easier to store and listen to audiobooks. Doug has written a blog post explaining how to use Join Together and Overcast to listen to audiobooks.

If you are an audiobook listener, I strongly recommend you check out this solution.

4 thoughts on “Listen to Audiobooks with the Overcast Podcast App on iOS

  1. I downloaded Overcast after reading your review. As you say, it works well — both the sound and the speed are quite nifty. However, its non-integration with iTunes and/or Apple’s own Podcasts app mean I will need to re-download a large collection of existing podcasts. In addition, if I mark them as ‘listened to’ in Overcast that is not reflected in iTunes or Podcasts. So it is something of a one-way journey with a bit of a migration effort.

    Are the benefits worth it, I ask myself. It would be easier if Overcast interacted with Apple’s own environment as that would make it a simple matter of choice each time I listen.

    Kirk, do you know if Overcast plan any further integration with Apple? Given your review was written 2 years ago I thought there might be some progress, but cannot see anything in the app or on the website.

  2. I downloaded Overcast after reading your review. As you say, it works well — both the sound and the speed are quite nifty. However, its non-integration with iTunes and/or Apple’s own Podcasts app mean I will need to re-download a large collection of existing podcasts. In addition, if I mark them as ‘listened to’ in Overcast that is not reflected in iTunes or Podcasts. So it is something of a one-way journey with a bit of a migration effort.

    Are the benefits worth it, I ask myself. It would be easier if Overcast interacted with Apple’s own environment as that would make it a simple matter of choice each time I listen.

    Kirk, do you know if Overcast plan any further integration with Apple? Given your review was written 2 years ago I thought there might be some progress, but cannot see anything in the app or on the website.

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