Get More Out of Podcasts with These Apps
Podcasting apps do more than just play back your favorite podcasts. The best-in-class apps automatically download and sort the newest episodes of your subscribed podcasts, help manage your subscriptions and include a variety of audio tools and features to give you the best listening experience possible. We're also seeing some standout podcast recording apps that can turn your smartphone into a mobile recording and editing studio. Here's a closer look at our favorite podcasting apps for iOS and Android devices. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)
Pocket Casts (Android, iOS)
Pocket Casts (Android, iOS) has long been one of our favorite mobile podcatchers, thanks to features like cross-device and cross-platform syncing, episode auto-downloading and cleanup. As a paid app, though, there was a significant barrier to entry. That changed in September when Pocket Casts went completely free on mobile without dropping any features for free users. In addition to the cross platform syncing, Pocket Casts allows for podcast discovery based on categories or your listening habits, and the app features organization tools for streaming and downloading episodes (and cleaning up episodes that you’ve listened to). Configurable controls cover timeskips, sleep timers and more. A Pocket Casts Plus tier adds the desktop and web apps, 10GB cloud storage, as well as themes and custom icons.
Marco Ament's Overcast offers a great combination of clean design, powerful audio and podcast management features. Overcast deftly handles episode playbacks and downloads, sends notifications of new episodes, and can play offline or through streaming if you need to save some space; plus it has some nice audio features. Voice Boost normalizes the sound levels of speech, automatically raising quiet voices and lowering loud ones. Smart Speed automatically cuts away at gaps and silence in the podcast, speeding up play without distorting audio. Updates over the years have added interface enhancements, an iOS widgets and an action tray that makes it easier to manage episodes of your favorite podcasts.
Google Podcasts (Android)
Google is getting into the podcast game, with its very own podcasting app. Google Podcasts is a must-have if you own a Google Home speaker along with your Android device. You'll be able to start a podcast on your phone during your commute and pick up where you left off when you get home by picking up the podcast on your smart speaker. Other features include the ability to adjust playback speed, Google Assistant integration and adding podcasts to the app directly from Google searches. Google also promises AI-powered capabilities in the future, such as automatic closed captioning.
Unlike other podcatchers, Castro's primary virtue is its simplicity and ease of use. The app combines sleek visual design with crystal clear audio. Episodes download in the background. The result is a podcatcher that isn't cluttered with too many complex features. That's not to say Castro is bare bones, as it includes dynamic storage management, automatic episode downloads and episode streaming. With Castro 2 in the works, the devs have since made the original app free for all users.
Spotify (Android, iOS)
Spotify (Android, iOS) might not be the first thing that comes to mind when somebody mentions podcasts, but the streaming media juggernaut also includes support for audio and video podcasts, along with a nifty Spoken Word section in the app. Podcasts are organized in a variety of categories, such as Storytellers, Sports & Recreation, and Comedy, and users can subscribe to individual podcasts, manage downloads, and share podcasts through social media. Playback and management options are sparse compared to other apps, but if you're already using Spotify for your streaming music and don't want to dig around for a dedicated podcatcher, then give it a shot.
Laughable (Android, iOS)
We could all use a laugh these days, and that's what Laughable (Android, iOS) promises with its comedy-focused podcast app. Laughable boasts the world's largest database of comedians — search for your favorite, and you'll not only find podcasts they host but a list of appearances on other shows. (It's not just comedy; Laughable's database includes athletes, actors and other public figures, too.) You can subscribe to other podcasts within Laughable, and enjoy playback features like offline listening, adjustable playback speed and a sleep timer.
Luminary (Android, iOS; $7.99/month)
Luminary (Android, iOS) wants to set itself up as the Netflix of podcasting, with an all-you-can-listen-to buffet of podcasts as well as a library of exclusive shows, such as Fiasco, Hear to Slay, and Trevor Noah’s On Second Thought. Subscribers gain access to Luminary’s exclusive titles ad-free, while free-tier users can turn to the app to listen to a range of free podcasts. Otherwise, Luminary runs the gamut of good podcasting app features, including search and discovery tools that learn from your listening habits, playback controls and offline mode.
Himalaya (Android, iOS)
Himalaya (Android, iOS) covers both ends of the spectrum, with a free podcast player app for listeners as well as a platform for creators to publish and monetize their podcasts. The app features more than 500,000 podcasters and 270,000 podcasts, with more than 24 million individual episodes. Existing podcast listeners can import their subscriptions from services like Google Podcasts, Spotify and TuneIn Radio, or you can search for new podcasts based on your listening habits, popularity, featured shows, and other filters.
Castbox (Android, iOS: Free)
Podcasting platform CastBox (Android, iOS) combines a clean and navigable interface, a good selection of podcasts, and powerful podcast audio searching to deliver an excellent mobile podcatcher. Users can sign in with Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter, and then search and subscribe to podcasts, download episodes for offline listening and sync their subscriptions across multiple devices. You can stream podcasts through Chromecast or Amazon Echo, and a premium tier removes subscription limits, allows for homepage customization, and puts you on priority for customer support and new features.
RadioPublic (Android, iOS: Free)
RadioPublic (Android, iOS) is a relative newcomer to the podcasting space, but it's dedicated to delivering a fair deal to listeners and creators alike, with a generous ad-supported model that pays creators the more you listen. The app offers hundreds of thousands of different podcasts across a variety of categories, with options for automatic downloads and streaming playback, organization tools and playlists and audiobook support.
Downcast (iOS: $2.99)
Downcast is a robust online search for podcast subscriptions, auto-downloading and the ability to import and export OMPL podcast feeds help you ensure your podcasts stay up-to-date. A highly customizable playlist maker lets you tinker and selectively build your playlists on the go, while numerous playback options (such as episode streaming, variable speed playback, video podcast support and more) allow you to play your content however you like. The app continues to add to its features, with CarPlay, Apple Watch, and Google Cast support among the new additions.
Podcast Republic (Android)
Podcast Republic is a free, ad-supported podcatcher app that offers you a wealth of features, so much so that we're almost surprised that it's not a paid app. Podcast Republic covers everything from podcast discovery and automatic downloading, configurable storage management, streaming playback support, a sleep timer and car mode for easy handling while on the road. Chromecast and Android Wear support allow you to 'cast or control the app from your wrist. The app is ad-supported, but an in-app purchase for $1.99 removes that.
Podcast Addict (Android)
Podcast Addict is a solid, feature-packed Android podcatcher that comes with neat extras. It covers the basics with automatic updating of episodes and downloads, as well as automatic deletion features to save space, variable speed playback, a sleep timer and other neat quality of life features. Podcast search allows you to quickly find individual episodes, or search through a variety of databases for new podcasts and trending shows. In addition, the app also supports video podcasts, YouTube channels, audiobooks, streaming radio and other media sources.
Procast (Android, iOS)
Podcast fans who like to talk about and share shows and moments from their favorite episodes might find Procast (Android, iOS) right up their alley. The app lets you take short, shareable snippets of audio from a podcast episode, store it on your phone, and then easily share with your friends and social media contacts. In addition, Procast has a consolidated inbox for quickly getting to all the newest episodes of your subscribed podcasts. Easy, Tinder-like swipe controls allow you to sort through episode libraries and podcasts.
Stitcher Radio for Podcasts (Android, iOS)
Stitcher (Android, iOS) lets you “stitch together” your podcasts into a customized playlist, facilitating access to the latest episodes as they are released without downloading or syncing. You can also download episodes for offline listening. News audio alerts sent to your phone help you keep up with late breaking stories. Stitcher helps you find new shows by recommending what mutual listeners like, as well as personalized show recommendations based on your history.
TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS)
TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS) facilitates podcast discovery and delivery for sports, news, music, and talk with more than 100,000 radio stations and some 4 million podcasts streaming from around the world. Upgrade to TuneIn Premium for live play-by-play of NFL, MLB, and Barclays Premier League games, commercial-free music stations, and an audio book library. The app supports Apple watch and has various levels of premium in-app purchases for both platforms.
Podbean (Android, iOS)
The streamlined interface of Podbean (Android, iOS) offers an easy way to access your favorite podcasts for streaming or offline listening. Search categories and get suggestions based on your history, or take advantage of options like the play speed adjustment, timer, and sleep function. The app auto downloads the most recent episodes and can auto-delete episodes you already listened to.
RSSRadio for iOS is an advanced audio/video podcast playback app offering a large depository from which you can stream podcasts via Wi-Fi or 3G. Search for shows by keyword and category, view top podcasts by hand, or type in a URL. RSSRadio suggests shows based on your current subscriptions and also includes an audio silence remover, equalizer, compressor/limiter, and volume boosting DSP effects. Use iCloud to keep multiple devices in sync. A $3.99 in-app purchase removes the ads, and the app also works with your Apple Watch.
Spreaker Podcast Radio (Android, iOS)
Say you’re seeking both popular and original podcasts on specific topics in addition to your own favorites. Spreaker Podcast Radio (Android, iOS) keeps programs, channels and your personalized playlists up to date. An Explore section serves up curated channels and lists based on topics like tech, travel and pop culture. The app offers a social component where you can like, share and comment on episodes and even contact hosts and other listeners.
Spreaker Studio (Android, iOS)
Of course, Spreaker isn't just about listening to podcasts. It also offers apps that help users record and publish podcasts of their own. The free Spreaker Studio app (Android, iOS) turns your mobile phone into a handheld podcasting studio, allowing users to record audio clips and add sound effects and music (which you can play while recording). Editing tools in the app can handle volume and channel settings. In addition, you can just broadcast live, and a chat feature lets you interact with listeners. Episode management tools let you sort episodes into shows and auto-post to Facebook and Twitter once you're done editing.