May 11, 2020 • #

With the boom in popularity of podcasting, it’s surprising their aren’t more podcast players popping up. I’ve been an Overcast user for years, but there are only a few other big players these days: Stitcher, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Downcast, then what seems like a long tail of small, undifferentiated options. Most of them provide similar functionality, but I’ve stuck with Overcast because of its simplicity and independence. Many of the other alternatives have shifted toward “platform” models where they’re looking to monetize content as well as their software. Overcast has been steady and independent, with no sign of changing. Podcasts should stay part of the open web.

Through the Roam Research Slack community, I found out about a new app called Airr. I was chatting there with one of the founders who turned me onto it, so I downloaded it to check it out. Importing my OPML data was easy, and a couple taps and I had my subscription list added.

Airr for iOS

In its basic functionality, Airr is like many other players. It’s got good search, subscription management, a queue, and more. But what Airr brings to podcast listening is its ability to extract, annotate, and transcribe clips from episodes.

One of the things that’s challenging to do with podcasts is to capture segments or take notes while on the go. Overcast has a tool for clipping segments, but mostly designed for sharing clips with others or on social media. Airr has a feature they call the “AirrQuote” — just tap and hold the Quote button during a show, slide backwards to the beginning of the segment to clip, and save. They’ve also gone to the next step, transcribing the audio using speech-to-text algorithms. As I understand it, the eventual goal is to be able to take those transcribed note segments and save into tools like Roam, Evernote, or whatever you use for document-keeping.

I’ve only been using it for a few days, as it’s in a sort of “public beta” on the App Store, but I’ve been impressed so far with how reliable and easy to use it is. I like the premise of the AirrQuote for annotations, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it fits into my listening flow. I’m switching over to it for now to see how I like those AirrQuotes.