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Review: Pocket Casts – major update drags the app into the present

It’s no secret that Pocket Casts has felt a little aged recently, but that’s all changed thanks to its 7.0 update

Price: Free
Subscription: $1 / £1 per month for Pocket Casts Premium
Version: 7.0.2
Size: 37.8
Seller: Podcast Media, LLC
Platform: iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch

Pocket Casts

Update! When we last looked at Pocket Casts, the app had received a bump up to version 7.0, making it feel modern and feature-rich again. But now, years later, how does Pocket Casts compare to some of the other podcast management apps on the App Store?

So what’s new? Pocket Casts is still hovering around version 7, with a big update to 8.0 promised soon. But that doesn’t mean the app hasn’t changed over the past couple of years. Responding to requests from users, the folks behind Pocket Casts have added an enhanced Now Playing screen, a more accessible Up Next menu, and even a brand new theme (called Indigo). It’s also possible to upload your own audio files to Pocket Casts and listen to them while on the move. But these aren’t the biggest changes to have reached Pocket Casts. Now, the app is a free download, with all of the content previously available included in the free offering. Newer features, like custom themes and icons, are reserved for paying members of Pocket Casts Premium, which will set you back $1 / £1 per month or $10 / £10 annually. As such, Pocket Casts is now freely available for all, with the option of paying if you like what you see.

Revised rating: Our only criticisms of Pocket Casts involved the lack of a “try before you buy” model and the app’s quiet update cycle. Both have been rectified in the years following our last review, leaving us with no option but to award Pocket Casts a perfect score. It’s a solid podcasting app and we can’t wait to see what’s coming in version 8.0.  ★★★★★


Our original review, written in December 2018, is presented in its entirety below.

Pocket Casts hasn’t exactly received update after update this past year. In fact, while rival podcast clients Overcast and Castro have continued to receive developer love, it’s felt like Pocket Casts has been left out in the cold. Fortunately, that’s all changed: a huge update is available for the cross-platform podcast client, which has made Pocket Casts one of the brightest and best podcast apps on the App Store.

The Discover tab in Pocket Casts 7.0. It’s now easier than ever to find new podcasts to listen to.

There are changes aplenty, beginning with a revamped interface: a tab bar has been added alongside a refined Now Playing screen, both of which have modernized the podcast client while making it fit more in line with iOS 12. Pocket Casts really is a cross-platform client: beside iOS, it’s available on Android, macOS, and Windows, so we’re pleased to see the updated app feel like a piece of iOS software (this wasn’t necessarily the case with the previous version).

You can listen to individual episodes without having to subscribe to the show in Pocket Casts.

The app’s Discover tab is really nice: along the top of this interface, Pocket Casts shows off “Featured” shows while lower down, “Trending” podcasts can be scrolled through. All of this makes it easier than ever to discover new content in the app. As you’d expect, you can also search for podcasts by name.

The app’s Now Playing is also new and improved.

It’s great to see the updated Pocket Casts gain support for AirPlay 2. If you have a supported speaker, like a HomePod or the new Sonos One, you’ll be able to AirPlay your podcasts directly from Pocket Casts for multi-room listening.

Other notable changes include Up-Next Syncing, which syncs your up-next lists between devices (and across different platforms), episode search, listening history, and the ability to play individual episodes without subscribing to the show. It’s also pleasing to see Pocket Casts gain support for Siri Shortcuts, and in this respect users can create workflows which integrate with the app in any way you can imagine. In addition to all of this, the app brings plenty of smaller tweaks, like the ability to switch between light and dark mode by pressing the top of the screen.

As before, you can view all of your subscribed shows in one place and listen to them.

As a previous user of Overcast and Castro, Pocket Casts now feels like a solid alternative. The only concern you might have is the app’s update cycle: are we going to have to wait an equally long time before further improvements are made to Pocket Casts? It’s also worth noting that while Overcast and Castro can be downloaded free of charge (with IAPs adding premium features), Pocket Casts is stuck behind a one-off purchase price.

Of course, the update is available free of charge for previous owners of Pocket Casts. It doesn’t get our vote as the best podcast app, period, but the differences between the top three are pretty small at this point. If you want to listen to podcasts on Apple and non-Apple devices alike, or you don’t want to be tied into a subscription to unlock every feature, Pocket Casts is your best option on iOS.