My favorite overlooked media apps and what they have in common

Just about everybody with a smartphone knows about Netflix, Pandora, and IMDB. There are plenty more great media apps that don't make the top of the charts or get discussed by the press except on tech blogs. Here are some of my favorite apps for media and entertainment that fly a little under the radar.

Fan TV

(iPhone) - I've tried many apps that attempt to keep track of where to watch streaming TV shows and movies. The recent update to Fan TV makes it the best available. It's much more simple and intuitive than other apps, and tracks more sources as well. Notifications for new episodes has been hit and miss so far, but hopefully it's improved soon.

Overcast saves me some time

Overcast saves me some time


(iPhone) - I'm a big fan of podcasts and used Apple's podcast app on iPhone and Stitcher on Android for a very long time. I began using Overcast earlier this year and highly recommend it. The app is free, but requires a $5 upgrade to unlock its core feature: Smart Speed, which removes the short pauses between words and sentences. This may not sound like much, but over a few months has saved me 24 hours (and I didn't even notice that dialog sounds any different). Overcast has several additional features the Apple Podcasts app is missing and has a great interface. I highly recommend it for big podcast fans. $5 is well worth it for the amount of time it's saved me. 

ESPN Radio

(iPhone, Android) - ESPN produces a ton of audio content for podcasts and radio broadcasts and this app brings it all together in one place. The key feature for me is setting up my personal 'stations' so I can quickly get any audio clips discussing my favorite teams, sports, players, or radio personalities.

Haystack TV

(iPhone, Android) - This app shows a feed of personalized news clips. There are a lot of apps that do this sort of thing, but there personalized nature of Haystack makes it interesting. It's also nice that it's not limited to one news source.

Feedly and Pocket

I use the Feedly RSS reader (iPhoneAndroid) to follow my favorite blogs and writers and Pocket (iPhoneAndroid) to save things for later. I use the combo primarily for text articles, but also to follow YouTube channels and save video clips to watch later. Pocket does a good job of handling video, and can play YouTube without leaving the Pocket app. Since Feedly and Pocket are already part of my daily routine, I prefer to also use it for YouTube and never have to open the YouTube app or website. Plus, I can use Pocket to save any other interesting video clips I come across.

Apple Remote

(iPhone) - If you use iTunes Home Sharing you should check out this free app. I use it to quickly enter text into the Apple TV, play movies and music stored on my computer through Apple TV, and control music playing through my computer from a different room.

An alternative solution to Home Sharing is Plex, which is also available on Android and has many more features.

The common theme

As I was putting this together, I noticed a common theme. It wasn't intentional, but is perhaps telling. There is so much great media out there, on a variety of platforms. It can be overwhelming to try to read every story on a major news site, listen to all the top podcasts, or watch all the hits on Netflix. These apps help me be more efficient in finding an consuming media. From curating audio or video clips, providing availability info, or playing music on my computer through my Apple TV, I use these apps to more quickly get what I want where I want it. I'd welcome much more innovation in this area, whether it's for text, audio, video, or other forms of digital media.