I downloaded the app immediately and started using it. After about 24 hours, here are my really quick first impressions:
I have to say, it's better than any other podcast app out there, for my needs. It's a beautiful app, with lots of customization options and a couple of new killer features that seem to be pretty amazing after a few hours of use.
Smart Speed shortens silences. Playing at faster speeds has always helped people make time to hear more podcasts, but it usually came at the expense of sound quality and intelligibility. Smart Speed is like getting another speed increment for free: it saves time without sounding weird.
Voice Boost is a combination of dynamic compression and equalization that can make many shows more listenable and normalize volume across all shows. This makes amateur-produced podcasts (including many of my favorites) more listenable in loud environments, like cars, where you’d otherwise need to crank the volume so loudly to hear the quiet parts that you’d blow your ears out when the loudest person spoke.
Smart Speed is really impressive. I notice a small, but definitely helpful difference. In the settings menu it will also tell you how much time you've saved cumulatively. I'm at about 9 minutes so far without feeling like I'm missing anything at all, because I'm not. It's pretty cool. I had a harder time noticing Voice Boost, but I think I pick it up on panel podcasts where there are multiple co-hosts/panelists all over the place. I'm going to keep trying to notice this one, but I suppose if it's working well, I won't notice it. I don't have the most discerning ear.