When it comes to listening to podcasts on iOS, there are a ton of options. Apple’s Podcast app comes built into your iOS device, but, if I’m being honest, the app isn’t that great. There are a ton of third-party apps out there, and they’re actually kind of great. In this post, I will break down all the podcast apps available and give you some pros and cons for each of them.
This is the one app that most people use. I mean, why not? It comes built into your iPhone, and you don’t have to do much other than subscribing to the podcast itself. Usage wise, Apple Podcasts is the most popular app. The good news about this is that if you are an Apple user, then it fits nicely into the Apple ecosystem. You can listen to it through macOS, and it also has Siri support on the HomePod. It does a decent job of recommending new shows as well. One feature that doesn’t get much attention is the ability to create “Stations”. This feature is under the Library section. If you tap on the Edit button, you’ll see the New Station option. This feature will allow you to group podcasts together that you can trigger via Siri.
Apple is preparing you for watchOS 5 as well, by having the ability to sync with your Apple Watch. As of right now, it doesn’t appear that there is the ability to stream with third-party podcast apps. So if this is a must for you, then you’re going to want to continue with Apple Podcasts.
Castro takes a unique approach to subscription management. You subscribe to shows, but then it uses a queue system to manage the shows. As new episodes come in, you can choose to queue a show or archive it. This feature is helpful if you listen to shows that have daily episodes. If you have favorite shows, you can set them to auto queue so you never miss them. Castro has an innovative approach to their library management. If you’re struggling to keep up with new episodes, then Castro would be your best bet. Castro is a free download, but it does require a subscription – $9 per year. Which isn’t bad, but you only have to pay if you want to unlock features like trim silence, or the ability to enhance voices.
Overcast has been around since 2013, and I would argue, the best podcast app out there. The design itself is a bit unique, and what’s interesting is that it seems pretty “plain”. In that, all of the features you could want are accessed when you swipe to the right. The default color scheme is light and unobtrusive. The main navigation includes a list of your playlists, your subscriptions, and buttons to further manage your subscriptions and playlists.
If you’re like me, and you listen to your podcasts on an accelerated speed, you will love the fact that it comes with 1.5x and 2x speeds. What’s great about this feature is that you can’t necessarily tell that the voices are going faster. I mean, you can, but it retains the quality of sound. Voice Boost is a feature that aims to normalize the volume and make shows easier to listen to when in noisy situations, such as a car or airplane. For shows with less-than-ideal editing, Voice Boost can make shows easier to listen to.
Overcast, like most apps, is pulling from the Apple Podcasts directory to power its directory, but it also has a way to see what other shows your Twitter followers have recommended.
It seems like the world is being taken over by podcasts, so I am happy to see more third-party apps coming to the marketplace. I’m also happy to see that the features are improving and making it easier for you to listen to all your favorite podcasts on the run.