Bug #1 Overcast and CarPlay (Update: Fixed)

(Update: As of Jan 17, 2017 this issue has been fixed; I’ve added comments about the fixes at the end of this article).

Hi Marco and Overcast. As a heavy listener of podcasts, mostly tech related, I am also a big fan and long time user of your app on iOS. Ive recently become a heavy user of Apple CarPlay functionality by means of a 2016 VW head unit, the first year the car maker has included Apple CarPlay support.

Its become immediately apparent however that there appears to be a major bug in Overcast when trying to play audio through CarPlay.

Ive experienced this on both the latest public iOS9.3 and public beta 9.3.2.

If the app is opened as a fresh session, choosing to play a podcast results in a successful now playing screen like so:

The now playing screen for Overcast in CarPlay

However, if the app session is not fresh (achieved by playing something in CarPlay, turning off the car, then back on again), it doesnt matter which podcast I choose, I always end up with a failed now playing screen like so:

Overcast failing to playback in a resumed app session

Even though nothing can be played, the CarPlay interface still functions correclty allowing you to browse all your podcasts or playlists, its just the final step of starting to play something that fails.

Navigating the interface still functions even though audio playback does not

Switching to the Music app will allow audio to be played, but coming back to Overcast, the audio will again fail. So it would appear to be something localised to the app, and not an iOS core issue.

Up until this point, everything has been accessed through the CarPlay app extension, with the main phone screen being locked and therefore off. CarPlay functions in unison with the phone; if you unlock the screen, whatever app is running in CarPlay will also be forefront on the phone.

Referring to the phone is the only avenue I can find out of this audio freeze. Once Overcast is visible on the phone, the audio still won't play, but if you wait about 10 seconds, the app will crash and return to the iPhone homescreen. This happens every single time I am in this state. The consistency of the crash time would lead me to assume its being killed by the OS itself in an attempt to clean up a frozen app.

Note: when the app crashes on the phone, the CarPlay counterpart remains visible and partly functional. It would seem a CarPlay bug at this point, because the interface should have also returned to the CarPlay homescreen at the same time. So in order to re-launch the app you do have to tap the CarPlay home button and then open Overcast again.

Relaunch the app and the audio will work again, up until the next time you get in the car and try to play a podcast. At which point this all starts again. So I essentially have to crash or force-quit Overcast each time I get in the car in order to use it.

Update: Fixed!

With this update some CarPlay improvements were shipped. Namely, the crashing bug was fixed, and two UI tabs were added to the top of the app’s homescreen to seperate playlists and podcasts, which speeds up navigation depending on where you are trying to play from.

I will note that there does appear to be a minor bug where after selecting a podcast to play, instead of staying on the Now Playing screen it abruptly returns to the playlist instead. Its unclear whether this is intentional or not.

Additionally, since this was written, CarPlay has been given the ability to re-order the App Icons that appear on screen. Likewise you can remove any apps you dont want to appear. This is done from iOS Settings > General > CarPlay.

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