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Happy Birthday Castro 1, Hello Castro 2

Posted by Padraig on Dec 10, 2014

It has been exactly 1 year since Oisin and I launched our podcast app, Castro.

During that year we released 14 updates, which added features like continuous play, a sleep timer, iOS 8 interactive notifications, localization, and bigger screen size support. We refreshed the typography and resolved lots of bugs. We answered a lot of emails.

Today, we are formally announcing that work has begun on Castro 2. If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that work began a few months ago. We will share our progress on this blog. To get started, I’d like to explain the overall theme of what we’re trying to do.

Castro 1 proposed a simple podcast listening workflow. The sweet spot where Castro really shines seems to be with occasional podcast listeners, who are subscribed to fewer than 15 podcasts. We also have plenty of happy users who fall outside this group, but light usage is where Castro excels.

The work that we are doing right now amounts to a huge leap forward in the functionality that the app provides. We think that Castro is the best app for people who listen to a few podcasts: now we want to make it the best app for people who listen to lots of podcasts.

In our original “Castro Manifesto” post we described the more complex podcast apps as being ‘a suite of tools for empowering engineering-minded users to obsessively chase the perfect podcast workflow’. I kind of chuckle at the dramatic high-mindedness of that sentence, but I do still agree with it. We haven’t forgotten where we came from. There will be some compromises to the simplicity of Castro as it develops, but we will work hard to maintain the ease of use that got us this far.

In the context of maintaining simplicity, it’s worth explaining how we think about our users (and our hopefully-future-users). There is some nuance between serving the needs of ‘power-users’ versus serving the needs of ‘podcast-fans’. I’m using the term power-users to describe people who are completely familiar and comfortable with the ups and downs of computers. Maybe they are the person that everyone in their family calls when their Firefox breaks. People who are comfortable changing system defaults in Terminal. People like app developers.

Anyone could be a podcast fan without necessarily fitting the description of a power-user. As we build features to improve Castro for dedicated listeners, we won’t presuppose that these users are also technically minded. The world already works the way power-users expect it to. The challenge of being a good app developer is to make it work the way fans want it to. This is that standard that we are holding ourselves to as we get to work on Castro 2.

In later posts we’ll go into more detail about the specific features we’re planning and what’s unique about our implementation. For now though? Happy Birthday Castro! 🍰

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