Podcasting apps, also known as podcatchers, do more than just play 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. As mobile and software improves, 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.
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.
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) 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) 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.
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 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 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.