Apple hasn’t been able to get things right with their Podcast app. In an attempt to simplify the app, they actually made it one step further than it used to be. The new Podcasts app brings the Apple Music style interface to the Podcasts app. The “Now Playing” controls, queue management, and option menus are taken directly from the Music app. But what works in the Music app doesn’t work in the Podcast app. For example, if you tap on an episode in the Listen Now tab, it doesn’t instantly start playing. Instead, you’re taken to the detailed listing of the episode where you have to hit the play button.
Apple has also replaced the playlist feature with stations, which is a downgraded version of the playlist feature. If you’re a hardcore podcast listener, this is going to be a hardship for you. So what other options are available to you in iOS? Check out our list.
Overcast is one of the best podcast apps out there. In fact, it might be the best. Its thoughtful design caters to a lot of podcast listeners. The app has a really simple interface that you can adapt to quickly. Once you’ve got your podcasts and playlists set up, you will be able to manipulate the queue using just the handle icon next to the podcast. Tap on an episode from the list and you’ll see options for playing the episode or adding it to another podcast.
One of my favorite features is the Smart Speed feature. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I often like to cram one or two in during my morning commute. The Smart Speed features intelligently removes pauses and silent breaks in the podcast. The Voice Boost feature increases the volume of the podcast without negatively affecting the sound quality. And it’s free!
If you’ve been listening to podcasts for years, and on Android, you might be familiar with Pocket Casts. It’s the best podcast app on Android and it is a top pick for iOS. Pocket Casts take a podcast first approach. The playlist and queue management features are there, they’re just hidden behind the sidebar and options menu. When you open Pocket Casts, you’ll be greeted by a grid of all your podcasts. Tap on podcast artwork, find the latest podcast and tap on the Play button to get started.
In the recent update, Pocket Casts overhauled their Discovery section and now, it’s a great way to discover new podcasts. The main difference here is that Pocket Casts is a paid (and ad-free app). It costs $3.99 on the App Store. You also get access to the Apple Watch app. Pocket Casts also has a great (fully featured) web client. If you want a consistent podcast experience across iOS, Android, and the Web, Pocket Casts is the best option for you.
Castro 2 is a different kind of podcast app. It takes an inbox style approach to podcasts. I personally like this look. The philosophy behind Castro is that you’re not going to listen to every episode of every podcast that you subscribe to. So when a new episode shows up from a podcast you’re subscribed to it will show in your inbox. I actually do listen to every new episode, so Castro clearly isn’t for me. You can listen to the podcast by adding it to the queue or you can archive it. Like Pocket Casts, Castro is going to cost you$3.99 in the App Store.
Stitcher Radio is a podcasting platform more than it is a podcasting app. An app like Overcast will let you listen to any publicly available RSS based podcast feed. But Stitcher will only let you play podcasts that are on its platform. You will find interesting stuff on Stitcher. They might be freely available podcasts or a comedy podcast that’s exclusive to Stitcher. There’s nothing fancy about the app itself. Stitcher shines with it’s over the top features. You start out with a personalized page where you’ll find recommendations for podcasts and episodes you might find interesting. Stitcher will cost you $4.99/month and you’ll get an ad-free experience, bonus content and exclusive Stitcher Originals.
Podbean is kind of generic. But in a good way. Like with the others listed in this post, you will find simple queue management, silence removal, and voice boost features. It has a Stitcher-like personalized feed and the Pocket Casts style discovery. It also integrates with Amazon’s Alexa. And the app is free to use!