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 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) 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.
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.
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.