Cosmicast, a podcast player released a couple of years ago and recently redesigned from the ground up, is set to disrupt the two-horse race currently led by Overcast and Pocket Casts as the two coveted full-featured third-party podcast players on the App Store by offering on par features, platform access and unique design-centric delights.
Interface & Interactions
One of the traits that help differentiate and establish uniqueness in Cosmicast is the bold approach to its design by semi-adopting the foregone skeuomorphic1 look and feel with the use of an animated spinning turntable on the player interface. Reminiscent of the tape deck found in the native Podcast app in iOS 6, it is sure to evoke nostalgic feelings. I’d love to see a selection of different record players and audio speakers like a gramophone, for example.
In keeping with today’s design standards, however, Cosmicast offers a single streamlined interface with gestures2 to access primary functions on the same interface directly. Accessing other core options can be done via an ellipses and settings button, which, understandably, takes your attention away from the current task on the single interface.
But with the use of gestures, simple button taps to reveal focused and straightforward modal windows, navigating and interacting with elements on the app is devoid of complexity even when swaying away from the current task. A simple dismissal of the modal window transports the user right back to their suspended state before entering the modal context. Such an approach eradicates complexity and makes me wish more apps consider adopting this approach to reduce navigational fatigue.
The app features playful interactions with the turntable, after all, what’s a turntable without the ability to scratch it. Users can scratch back and forth on the turntable to skip forwards and backwards, tap and hold to reveal episode details, chapters and all episodes from the current playing podcast episode.
Along with the spinning vinyl, the design aspect of Cosmicast is a real delight, even more so on the iPad, where I usually set my display auto-lock to never. I’d love to see a setting option to keep the screen awake while Cosmicast is active so that I can enjoy the delightful display of the spinning turntable when I’m not actively using the iPad.
Features and Discovery
Feature parity is paramount if you want your app to stand a chance of being regarded as one of the best in its category. Cosmicast offers a lot of the existing core features found in some of the renowned podcast players on the App Store. In terms of appearance, the app supports Dark Mode with a selection of tint colours to alter the theme to your taste, along with a wide range of app icons.
Discovery is essential on media platforms. Cosmicast features a built-in directory that enables users to browse an extensive list of categories and topics regionally which automatically populates a list the most popular shows for your chosen region under the Popular tab.
Platforms and Pricing
Following the revamp, Cosmicast started life again on the App Store with a single upfront one-off payment of £8/$10. The app has since switched to a subscription model due to needing ongoing funds for the continued development of Cosmicast. Users can opt for a monthly, yearly sub or a one-off lifetime payment of £23/$29. I find the subscription pricing reasonable, giving the list of feature parity and platform access.
In all my years using podcast players on iOS, from Instacast to Downcast, to the currently available selections leading the way, it is refreshing to see another new worthy contender in this category. I can firmly say Cosmicast belongs in the upper echelon of podcast players on the App Store.