Castro isn’t dead, apparently

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Bluck Apps writing on the Castro blog, which went over 3 years without a new post, if you wanted an idea for how much communication from the company has broken down: A Fresh Start for Castro

We are excited to announce Castro has been purchased by Bluck Apps. Castro is a great app with a long history on iOS and many passionate fans, and it will continue to operate in its current form. This is a return to its independent roots. We won’t be making any drastic changes, like overhauling the UI to look more like TikTok. We’re not adding an AI chatbot. We’ll just keep running the podcast service you already love, with a few tweaks to modernize and keep things running smoothly.

I really used to love Castro. I’m the sort of person who subscribes to more things than I could ever actually consume. I do this with RSS feeds, I do it on YouTube, and I do it with podcasts as well. This means my subscriptions feed is a triage feed, and I save things I want to read/watch/listen to somewhere else.

  • I triage my RSS feeds in Reeder and save what I want to read in full in Readwise Reader
  • I triage my YouTube subs on the subscriptions page and save what I want to watch to the “watch later” playlist

Podcast apps don’t do a great job of this, as the place you see new episodes come in is usually the same place you listen to shows as well. What I loved about Castro was that it had an inbox page where all my shows appeared, and with a very quick UI, I was able to choose what to do with each episode, whether that be adding it to the bottom of my queue, the top of the queue, archiving the episode, or even playing it immediately. Yes, you could sort of do something like this with Overcast, but you’d have to go through more taps to do this for each show and you’d also lose the ability to choose where in the listening queue each episode went.

Oh, and Castro had show-level controls where you could automate what happened to new episodes. So for example, I always listen to ATP episodes basically as soon as they’re out, so I had Castro set up to put new ATP episodes immediately at the top of my queue.

This was one of my very first YouTube videos, so be kind, but I demoed this amazing queuing system here if you wanted to see it in action.

Now Castro still exists, but I’ve been referring to it in the past tense this whole post because for me, Castro died a few years ago. For example, there was a bug where private feeds (Stratechery, Patreon feeds, etc.) that would not fetch new episodes unless I went into the show in Castro and pulled to refresh each feed manually. I reported this to Castro and their response was basically, “yeah we know that’s an issue, but we don’t plan on fixing it.” I don’t know if this has gotten better over the years, but that’s an example of a support email that leaves such a bad taste in your mouth that you drop the product entirely.

There were other issues and as they say in this post, the communication from the company has been atrocious, especially as of late. I do hope that these new owners can turn Castro back into the serious Overcast competitor it once was, but we’ll have to wait and see.

For what it’s worth, I think that a lot of nerds feel a connection to Castro in a way we don’t with many other apps, which is why even though most of us have moved on from Castro, we’re all still rooting for it to make a comeback.