It’s fantastic to be able to easily look at my watch to change the volume or skip track or go forward or backward in a podcast.
But then Overcast came up. And just like Marco said I ended up on installing it on my watch because I lost the ability to change the volume. The now playing widget still let me change the volume and I can use the little buttons to skip forward and backward 30 seconds.
But now I can’t choose which podcast I’m listening to from the watch. I can’t put the app on my watch because it actively brakes a useful feature.
All because Apple won’t provide a simple API the people have been asking for for two years now? It’s sort of made sense in the original watchOS I guess but once we got the ability to run apps on the watch and access the digital crown seems like an obvious step that volume control should’ve been provided.
Consumers like having e.g. reliable Maps, which is very difficult for anybody not-BigCo because they're the ones with data to do it.
Apple, Google have thousands of people and billions of dollars invested in building consumer experience for their mobile phones/apps. Getting even a tiny fraction of that market as a startup would require something wholly original. Privacy-focused <x> isn't that thing. (See: email, past privacy-OS-for-desktop attempts).
Not to mention, Apple is doing a half decent job with the privacy angle, too.
Syncing progress for a podcast once every minute is excessive. Rather than polling, the app should update progress on the boundary transition (when starting the podcast app, when playback pauses, when bluetooth headphones disconnect, just before and after going to next/previous podcast).
The lifetime of a $350+++ Fitbit/notification screen is limited. Apple needs to improve the software side quickly - the hardware has come a long way from the first version.
Things like omitting error handling are just poor software design though.
Apple Music will be a game changer for many people on the Apple Watch, but I don’t listen to music that often. No native support for podcasts is a deal breaker for me.
Currently, if I were still an outdoor runner, I would get the cheapest Apple Watch I could to display GPS info and control audio playback and I would have an iPhone SE - the smallest phone possible - in an arm band. My 6s isn’t unwieldy with an armband but I use an iPad with cellular when I need a usable screen.
 "Minimum fix: During WKAudioFilePlayer playback, wake the host app... on state-change events, such as pausing, seeking, and reaching the end of a file."
You’re supposed to set the metadata when your track starts and don’t touch it unless playback have finished or the user pauses it. The system updates the progress bar based on the duration and the playback rate you’ve set in the now playing info.
Apple Watch is a battery hog, culprit number one being the sexy watchOS UI. If you want practicality and pragmatic trade offs, it is nowhere near what others have demonstrated.
That being said, the Apple watch is still pretty good at pretty much one thing: when my phone beeps with a notification from one of many sources (SMS, eBay, Invision Trello, Messenger, etc) I need only glance at my watch. It's also a decent exercise tracker.
But it could be so much more. Sadly, I think Apple has probably missed it's best chance to recruit top developers, so it's likely it will be relegated to fancy text reader and step counter forever.
I get what Marco is talking about here, but Overcast is already so complex it can barely play a podcast without crashing if interrupted. I don’t need that drama on my watch, where complex stuff either doesn’t work or sucks battery.
do you have a repro? I use overcast extremely heavily and haven't had a crash in a few months.
> The Apple Watch desperately needs standalone podcast playback, especially with the LTE-equipped Series 3, which was designed specifically for exercising without an iPhone.
So yes, pulling out the phone that you don't have with you is a deal breaker.
It looks like Apple Watch isn’t there yet. Maybe an Android watch is?
Google Play Music is (AFAIK) the only media player that works on AW. However, you're unable to sync podcasts to a watch, only music (even though podcasts via GPM work on the phone). So over the last 1.5 years with 2 AW watches (Moto360 sport, Polar M600) across 2 major Wear releases, I've had to listen to music on my runs, rather than the podcasts I'd have preferred. And I take my phone on walks / hikes to listen to podcasts, when I'd prefer to leave it home.
If the apple watch supported podcasts, I'd probably switch.
Still, at least I'm able to go on runs with my music podcasts.
Edit: Changed iWatch to Apple Watch.
I really don't like carrying around a large 5.5" screen phone while running; the armband pouches are about as convenient as you can get and I appreciate them for what they are, but just having a small watch device would be far better for me (and for many I assume). Easier to waterproof so I don't have to worry about it when it rains, less to break should an accident happen (I trip, collision with cyclist, etc), lighter overall. That plus having a means of shooting off a quick message via Siri or whatever voice service to just keep track of people would be wonderful.
Do I need it? No, but boy do I want it.
Yes. If I'm exercising, I want to carry the absolute minimum. If I'm doing a lot of daily tasks, I want to carry the absolute minimum. If I can get by without something phone-sized in my pocket by wearing something watch-sized on my wrist, I'd prefer the former.
Do people really want to exercise without their phone?
Yes. That is the entire reason I bought mine... Those phones are huge. It would be like strapping a plate to my arm while I run.
Which is good because I don't use the gym benches to fiddle with my phone
The existing 'now playing' capabilities of the watch handle this perfectly well. They don't handle selecting podcasts to play though.
This is moot. If Apple wanted were to put their podcast app on Apple Watch they would just use internal APIs that third parties can't use, like the default music app.
Happily, Podcasts (at least in the 11.0 GM release) still lets you rate/review podcasts on iOS 11.
The key is in the title "What we need from Apple TO MAKE standalone Apple Watch podcast apps", rather than "Why Apple needs to make a standalone Watch podcast app".
Having spent 24 hours with the cellular watch and taken two runs without the iPhone, this is now a near necessity.
Then the node script triggers AppleScript to Update iCloud Library.
The "Watch Podcasts" smart playlist is added in iPhone Watch app under Music.
Now when the watch is charging any of those podcasts are synced.
Don't have a clean way to share (and selecting podcasts to transfer is manual on the Mac).
If there's interest I may expand on utility and share
I really did hack it together before a run and am very embarrassed by the code. pull requests welcome :)
If the battery lasted 7-10 days, it would be perfect. That's about how long my business trips take, so I could charge it to full beforehand and not worry about it at all during the trip.
With that in mind, it's crazy to me that Apple isn't beating down Marco's door to give him his requests. In the limited time that standalone Watch playback was in Overcast, even in its crappy implementation I used the hell out of it. Audio is one of the few home-run use cases for Watch apps, whereas in most other cases it's so much simpler and easier to just use your phone. Why wasn't that the first API implemented and the one polished to a shine? I hope they're not trying to make Apple Music the only available option.
Then based on Marco's own stats, you were one of about 0.1% of users...
That said, now that the watch is free* from the tether of my iPhone, I'd love to listen to podcasts on it on a run while leaving my phone behind.
There’s one elaborate exception that we discussed
in Under The Radar #98: workout apps, which are
allowed to run in the background and play audio.
So this all becomes possible if you combine a
standalone podcast player with a workout app, and
only allow podcast playback while a workout is
active that was started from that app.
But this forces the combination of two completely
different app types, and users would find the
workout-during-playback requirement confusing,
inexplicable, and limiting.
Requiring podcast apps to also be workout apps is a
user- and developer-hostile hack that Apple
probably doesn’t intend.
Specifically, the "Signatur Connected Leather Hybrid Smartwatch". It looks like an analog watch, but it has smart watch functions and connects to your phone with bluetooth.
Favorite things about it: It has an analog subdial that shows progress towards your daily step goal. It has three 'real' analog buttons that you can connect to just about any function on your phone. I have one button mapped to start/stop any music that is playing. Another button moves the hour and minute hands to point to the date. The third button sets off the ringer on my phone.
And the battery is a normal watch battery, which should last between 6 months and a year. Check it out, I think it hits the right balance between minimal analog watch and smart functions.
- You have access to show notes and have a full fledged browser to follow the links
- You have way more battery life. I listen to about 4 hours of audio content during a day, I suppose I'd have to recharge the watch more often
- Exploration of episodes and general library management is better on a bigger screen
Some podcasts are exceptionally long (10's of hours - think the out-of-copyright version of audiobooks), and those consume a lot of battery life (for both playback and transfer) and disk space.
And I am wondering, how much would people paid for longer battery life on Apple watch? We do have the tech, solid state battery, it is simply too expensive if it is used in the size of smartphone, because solid state battery prices scale exponentially with size. But what about Smart watches?
Are user willing to paid extra $200 for LTE + Solid State Battery?
Even Google Play Music doesn't sync podcasts to wear. Sigh.
I periodically search the play store for AW enabled podcast apps, but the best I've found are apps that put playback controls for the phone on the watchface. Sigh.
I think the difference is mostly between shows made by companies, or by individuals and non-profits. Gotta pay those investors.
Basically, the same situation as with videos and websites.
Both Joe Rogan (individual) and NPR (nonprofit) are ad-laden as...
As for Joe Rogan, I can't say I've heard his show. I was relating merely my personal experience.
I probably could have been more clear. In my case, I do the same - except I don't use a client and nothing is automated or from any one particular service.
Yeah, I could have been much more clear.