Get More Out of Podcasts with These Apps
Podcasting apps do more than just play back your podcasts. The best-in-class examples 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)
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. The most recent update adds interface enhancements, an iOS 10 widget and a new 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.
Pocket Casts (Android, iOS: $3.99)
Pocket Casts (Android, iOS) neatly combines style and function with an attractive design that showcases subscribed podcasts in tile format. Tap on a square to bring up an episode list and download options. A smart playlisting feature helps you sort and categorize your downloaded content for easy listening. Pocket Casts also includes video podcast support, auto-downloading and automatic cleanup of downloaded episodes to save storage space. Other helpful playback features include quick skip forward and back buttons with configurable time intervals, and a sleep timer. What may be its most important feature is its cross-platform nature that allows it to sync between devices and OS's, which is great if you've got an iOS and Android device.
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.
Breaker (iOS: Free)
Breaker takes more of a social media approach to podcast search and discovery. The app highlights the shows that your friends subscribe to, allowing you to like podcasts, comment on episodes and chat with friends about your favorites. Through Breaker, you can also connect with the people behind your favorite shows. Naturally, the recommendations will tailor themselves to your podcast consumption as well as those that your friends are following. The app's no slouch on the playback side either, with playback speed controls, silence skip, and the option to automatically download new episodes of your subscriptions. Breaker also includes the option for users to buy premium episodes offered by individual podcasts for an in-app purchase.
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.
iCatcher! (iOS: $2.99)
iCatcher features a ton of configurable settings, tweaks and features for everything from downloads, subscriptions, playback and more. Users can subscribe to and download their favorite podcasts from within the app, with Wi-Fi and cellular download options available, as well as background and multi-episode downloads. The player can accommodate variable playback speeds, a sleep timer, multi touch controls, quick jump/back buttons and more. The app also supports Apple Watch, gestures and AirPlay.
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.
Doggcatcher (Android: $2.99)
Ideal for power users, Doggcatcher is filled with a crazy amount of functions. It offers advanced search, variable playback speeds, auto-downloading, feed customization, auto-cleanup, UI customization and even the ability to run episode diagnostics and send logs to the developer. This is one powerful app that lets you do more than you could ever want with your podcasts, and constant updates keep it on the bleeding edge.
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.