Podcasts are big business these days, and whether you’re a seasoned pod fan or just finding out about these amazing audio delights, there are plenty of apps to help you find and listen to the best podcasts out there.
Of course, Apple ships iOS with its very own Podcasts app, which works just fine. But there are plenty of superior players out there, with four key distinguishing factors: discovery, playback, style, and platform.
We’ve reviewed a bunch of them in our time, and if you’re not sure which podcast client will suit you best, it’s worth reading through the lot. For example, we love the ‘triage’ approach in Castro that keeps news episodes easily accessible, but we also love the amazing playback controls found in Overcast. Meanwhile, ‘sodes does away with fancy features in favor of a slick, minimal interface that could work wonders for podcast newbies. And Pocket Casts works on other platforms too, so you can start listening on an iPhone and continue elsewhere.
If reading four whole reviews sounds like a lot of work, we’ve got your back: here’s a summary of the lot, and advice on which one to get based on your personal preferences.
Castro: best for discovery and organization
Castro’s selling point is that it’s always done a good job of catering to adventurous podcast listening – and that can apply to newbies and experienced listeners. It’s unique ‘triage’ approach means that whenever a new episode of a podcast you subscribe to shows up, it enters the inbox. From here, you select quickly and easily whether you want to send it to a queue, or archive it.
This allows listeners to choose whether they want to bother with a show’s latest episode, rather than have every episode show up in your player straight away, which causes some of us anxiety-inducing completist attitudes, which really aren’t very helpful when there are so many podcasts out there. In short, Castro stops you feeling overwhelmed by content.
Overcast: best for playback
We could bang on about Overcast’s features all day: the vibrant, usable interface; smart playlists; support for streaming and downloaded podcasts.
But our favorite bit is playback – Overcast simply sounds better than its rivals, due to superb smart speed and voice boost features, and smart resume, which rewinds your podcast a bit if it’s paused, to remind you where you left off. The only downside is occasional adverts, but those can be nuked with a $10/year subscription fee.
‘sodes: best for minimalist style
‘sodes is a minimally-designed podcast app that attempts to remove the hassle of a download or listening queue, preferring listeners to simply listen as and when. It’s an interesting approach, which works because podcast feeds can quickly become cluttered. ‘sodes simply allows you to search, or add a favorite, and then dip in and out, streaming whenever you have a minute to listen.
If you’ve not yet dabbled much in the world of podcasts, this app could be just what you need. It’s an excellent way to get started, free of the complexities required by more advanced podcast consumers.
Pocket Casts: best multi-platform player
Pocket Casts really is a cross-platform client: beside iOS, it’s available on Android, macOS, and Windows, and yet we’re pleased to see the app feels like a piece of iOS software, and offer many of the same features as its contemporaries.
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.