Podcasters rejoice: Marco Arment, the creator of iOS podcast player app Overcast, announced today that he's officially releasing his podcast MP3 encoder — called Forecast — as a public beta. The aim of Forecast is to essentially make the annoying hassles of podcast post-production a thing of the past, allowing producers to skip the tedious, manual steps it takes to publish each episode.
With Forecast, podcasters can pretty effortlessly embed artwork, title, and description in each MP3 without needing to edit it in iTunes. If you name all of your audio files using the same prefix and numbering system each time, Forecast will even autofill the artwork and other info for you, further cutting down on the amount of labeling. You also no longer have to manually input duration or file size, and instead can simply use Forecast's quick copy tools to copy their values and paste them into your podcast's CMS. In addition to all of that, the program uses a custom integration of the world-class LAME MP3 encoder that spreads the work across all of your processor's cores, meaning that you'll be utilizing your computer's full potential, thus saving even more time.
The coolest feature Forecast offers is probably its ability to encode MP3 chapters, which make it easier for listeners to navigate podcasts. Forecast reads and writes the MP3 chapters standard, so if you'd like to add chapters all you have to do is create markers in your audio editor while you edit, then export it as a .WAV file. After that you just open it in Forecast, and the program will import each marker as a chapter. Even if chapters aren't for you, you can use this feature to display a link or image to the listener at a relevant time (in supported podcast players, that is).
If you want to grab Forecast and try it out yourself, you can do so by visiting Arment's website. If you're worried about using Forecast while it's still in beta, it may comfort you to know that it's been privately tested by professional podcasters (including Arment himself) for over two years. The best part: Arment assures that it's completely, 100% free. No catches, no subscription fees, nothing:
I've been using Forecast for two years as I've developed it, and it has saved me so much time that creating it has already proven worthwhile, even if I get nothing else out of it. I hope it's as useful to you as it has been to me.
If that's not reason enough to at least give it a try, I don't know what is.
Have you tested Forecast yet? If so, what do you think of it? Share your experience with us in the comments!
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