If you’re like most people, you got your start listening to podcasts on your iPod or iPhone, which means you’re familiar with the default Apple Podcasts app. Likewise, if you’re an Android user, you’ve probably been getting your weekly feed delivered via Google Play.
However, there’s a whole range of podcast apps for you to listen to across iOS and Android devices! You no longer need to be limited to what came pre-installed on your device. Thankfully, there’s enough variety for us to collect, organize, and play our favorite podcasts. Many of them even include features for discovery, playback, sharing, sleep timers, and more.
Our team put our heads together to provide you a list of our favorite podcast listening apps. We break down the pros and cons to each and link to their app store listing so you can check them out.
This is the default listening app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices, and its early appearance on the market gave it traction as the world’s de facto podcast directory. Because Apple Podcasts is where most new listeners start to explore podcasting, the service has held up against competitors. While it’s best for syncing your feeds and your listening progress across multiple iOS and Amazon Echo devices, it’s not really a viable option for Android or Windows users. Although every podcaster will tell you to “leave us a rating in the Apple Podcasts directory,” their recommendation system’s often easily gamed, so it may not help you dive deeper than the top few shows in any genre.
“They’re an introduction to podcast services that many never really move past, which is perfectly fine if you have no desire to explore additional features.” –Brian Bell, from Paste.
For podcast power listeners that prefer a wider variety of podcasts and a streamlined sync experience, PocketCasts offers excellent cross-platform and web-based features. Its main unique feature is the ability to sync subscriptions, progress, and preferences across devices via the cloud. For a small monthly or annual fee, users can trim silence, use variable speed (between .5x and 3x speed), boost volume, navigate chapters, and access Apple Watch controls.
“Podcast discovery is simple, as Pocket Casts regularly updates its list of featured shows and episodes, and shows off trending shows to give you an idea of what everyone else is enjoying.” –Patrick Lucas Austin, from Time.
Available on iOS and the web, Overcast appeals to Apple power-users who appreciate high quality audio. Overcast’s clip sharing feature is unique—users can easily share a podcast by clipping out a selection of any show and messaging it across most platforms.
Its best features are Smart Speed and Voice Boost, which cut silence and intelligently boosts quiet audio, respectively. With excellent audio features and a community-driven discovery tool, Overcast is a powerful but simple app. The only downside is that the web-based interface is a little limited, especially for users who don’t always have Apple devices handy. Although a premium $9.99 annual subscription will remove ads from the otherwise free app, even those ads (usually from new and noteworthy podcasts) are tailored to Overcast’s community of eager listeners.
“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.” — John Corpuz, Jackie Dove from Tom’s Guide.
Through some major acquisitions, Spotify has stepped up its podcasting footprint. Not only does its directory rival Apple’s, it’s actively producing its own original content aimed at subscribers. By being able to offer a massive selection of music and podcasts, the app has become a one-stop-shop for many listeners. Spotify is ubiquitous and works across all platforms, although the interface itself is still reasonably basic. The free version still injects third party ads, unless you’re a premium member ($9.99/mo).
“In addition to being one of the best music streaming services, Spotify is also a podcast player. When you use Spotify to organize and listen to podcasts, your podcast activity lives a dedicated area, separate from your music. It doesn’t have nearly as many settings and controls as a more traditional podcast catcher app, but if you’re already paying for Spotify Premium, then it still may be worth using for listening to podcasts.”–Jill Duffy, from PCMag.
Not only is Stitcher a podcast listening app, but it’s also a podcast network. Stitcher allows users to search for episodes, not just entire podcasts. Create playlists, find new podcasts, listen to the news, and more. They offer excellent editorial curation and user experience. The premium version removes most ads and opens access to subscriber-only content for just $4.99/mo. The free version injects ads that don’t benefit podcast publishers, and some podcasters have expressed frustration about Stitcher’s lack of transparency regarding listening statistics.
“If you’re a podcast addict but want a little more function from your app, consider Stitcher — a sort of personalized radio service that lets you make playlists of your podcasts and feeds you recommendations based on the shows to which you’re already listening.”–Hayley Tsukayama, from The Denver Post.
What podcasts apps have you used? We would love to know more about them and share them with our audience!