A few weeks ago I stumbled across a free service that offers a relatively unique service. It converts written news or blog articles (or other texts on the Internet) into a kind of 2-minute podcast with two speakers who present and discuss the topic in the form of a conversation. How it works? Of course with AI.
Chapter in this post:
- 1 Written internet texts as podcasts
- 2 1 month Recast-Pro free!
- 3 Currently only available in English
- 4 Update September 19.09.2023, XNUMX: Many innovations in the recast service
- 5 CarPlay
- 7 web version
- 8 widgets for iOS17
- 9 Embedding Podcasts
- 10 Optimized for iPad
- 11 New app icons
- 12 Affiliate Program
- 13 This is how Recast works in the background
- 14 How to pass URLs to the Recast AI service
- 15 Recast Pro or free?
- 16 Pro feature: Listen to recasts via the podcast app
- 17 Disadvantages of Recast AI
- 18 Conclusion
- 19 Tip: Listen to recasts in the “Discover” section
- 20 Similar posts
Written internet texts as podcasts
I'm a big podcast fan and enjoy listening to them in different situations - be it while exercising, mowing the lawn, driving or just relaxing. But unfortunately not all texts are available in audio format and so there are also articles that I absolutely have to read. Here comes the service Recast AI in the game.
1 month of Recast-Pro free!
By the way: The links here in the article are affiliate links, which has the advantage that you get a month of Recast Pro for free when you create your Recast account.
Currently only available in English
A quick note in advance: The app currently specializes in converting English articles into English-language podcasts. The creators wrote to me that they are working on offering the service for other languages, but currently only English is available. But let's look at it positively: It's a good opportunity to practice your own English.
Update September 19.09.2023, XNUMX: Many innovations in the recast service
I just received an email from the Recast team in which they presented some interesting news about their service, which I wanted to briefly add to the article:
Those of you who travel a lot will appreciate this: Recast now has CarPlay integration. This means you can now listen to your podcasts even more comfortably in the car without having to constantly reach for your cell phone. A real asset for long journeys!
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Recast had now released an app for the Apple Watch. This makes it possible to control podcasts directly from your wrist, which is particularly practical if your hands are full or you're out and about doing sports.
Not everyone wants to have their cell phone in their hand all the time. For these cases there is now the web version of Recast. Just in Browser Open it, log in and you have access to your entire podcast library.
Widgets for iOS17
A feature that I find particularly exciting are the new widgets for iOS17. They offer a quick overview of new podcast episodes or recommendations without having to open the app.
For all bloggers and website operators among you: Recast now makes it possible to embed podcasts directly into your own site. A great way to expand your own content and keep visitors on the site longer.
Optimized for iPad
The Recast app on the iPad has always been usable, but now it's been optimized specifically for the larger display. This makes browsing and listening to podcasts an even better experience.
New app icons
One small detail that caught my eye: Recast now offers different app icons. This gives the home screen a fresh look and adds some variety.
And last but not least: If you are an enthusiastic Recast user and would like to recommend the platform to others, you can now even earn a little extra with the affiliate program. You can find more information about this here on the Recast subpage.
End of update...
This is how Recast works in the background
What Recast does under the hood is probably this:
- The submitted URL is read and the relevant part of the content (minus the menu and other areas you don't want) is identified.
- The content is given to an AI, which is tasked with rewriting the content so that it sounds like a 2-minute conversation between two presenters about the topic, while retaining the important content from the text. When rewriting, the comprehensibility of the content is probably also taken into account, because even complex texts are easier to understand after being “treated” by recasting.
- Now the finished text is passed to another AI, which creates a conversation from the dialogue-style text with two AI voices, which is then saved as an audio file.
- After all that is done, a short intro and outro comes before the audio and it is made available to the user via the Recast app.
This process takes a few minutes and you can then find the finished recast in the app or on the website in your dashboard. The recast is added to the list of your own recasts and you can then listen through this list one by one.
How to pass URLs to the Recast AI service
If you now want to send a URL to Recast, there are two ways. One is the Recast app, which you can download for the iPhone (AppStore link). There is a plus button in the app that opens a browser window. You can use this to surf and then, if necessary, pass a URL that you are currently viewing to Recast.
The other option is this Recast Chrome Extension. This builds a small recast button into Chrome. The first time you use it, you of course have to log in with your Rebast account. Whenever you are on a website that you want to pass to Recast, you can press this button and the URL will be sent to the text-to-podcast service.
I just see that there is of course a third way: You can also add a URL for an article directly to the Recast website and start editing it that way.
Recast Pro or free?
In principle, Recast is free. According to the Recast info page only feed “Top Publishers” into Recast. A few weeks ago, this restriction on the free plan didn't exist and I find it a bit inappropriate because it puts small bloggers and publishers at a disadvantage while the big publishers are the focus.
Wondering which domains are included in the free tier? Our aim is to offer a good selection of the main publishers of news, magazines and blogs. Everything you see in the apps' discovery feeds is already included, and we're always thinking about adding something new. If you think we missed something, please let us know.
The Pro account for just under USD 10 per month offers two important advantages:
- you can convert any (English-language) article
- The processing time, which was around 10 to 15 minutes for me in the free account, is reduced again
However, there are many other advantages that come with being a Pro user. A current overview of the differences can be found here on the subscription page. I think if you use it often, the price is okay, but unfortunately I only use it sporadically because I mostly read German articles.
Pro feature: Listen to recasts via the podcast app
If you like listening to podcasts, then it goes without saying that you would also want to listen to the recasts with your favorite podcast app. This is actually possible if you book the Pro version, because then you get your own RSS URL for your personal recast feed. You then feed this URL into the podcast player and a list of all the unheard recasts is now available in the app.
This feature alone would convince me personally if there was a German version of Recast. As soon as the team has this option available, I will be a paying customer. 😊
Disadvantages of Recast AI
Not everything about the way Recast paraphrases articles is good. Of course it helps to consume a lot of items quickly, but as with the service Blinkist Also, details are lost when summarizing.
The fixed limit of 2 minutes in length is both a blessing and a curse. I would have liked it if there was an option here to choose 2 minutes or the length you need so that everything that is said in the article is included in the audio.
This means you may miss important details mentioned in the original article. For me it was prices or naming sources for certain statements. Such things help to classify statements and omitting them can sometimes lead to things not being understood in detail.
The second disadvantage, in my opinion, is that the free account is limited to certain sources, although it is not even mentioned which sources these are. In practice, this results in you submitting one URL after the other and minutes later receiving a rejection for many URLs by email because they are not one of the supported “top publishers”. This means you lose track of what you got as a recast and what you didn't.
It would have made much more sense to limit use to a certain number of URLs and then offer some kind of credit system AND a subscription. For example, you could insert 50 euros for sporadic use and gradually use up this credit.
Originally, Recast AI in the free version was not limited in quantity or to specific websites. The processing time alone made the difference between free and pro.
The restriction now looks like what I explained above. For me this has the effect that I no longer use Recast AI because a subscription is not worth it and the free version simply rejects almost everything that I would like to have converted.
The developers behind the service have therefore taken a step that means that I can only recommend the service to a limited extent.
I think the concept is very good and it's fun to listen to articles as a podcast conversation. So I “read” a lot of things that I wouldn’t have consumed otherwise. Nevertheless, it is currently only worthwhile if you use it with a subscription and you have to use it often, especially for English-language articles.
Tip: Listen to recasts in the “Discover” section
You can definitely take a look at Recast AI and see other people’s finished recasts in the “Discover” section. These are already converted and available as a podcast and can also be listened to in the free plan.
I use the Recast iPhone app for this and have a wealth of interesting news on a wide variety of topics via this Discover section. You can listen to a 2-minute conversation here and there if you feel like it.
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He acts as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with technical problems. In his spare time he rides electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with the iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions to current bugs.