Finding the best podcast app for what you need is easier said than done. After all, you have a dizzying array of options on the market and several features to consider, as well as subscription fees.
Most podcast apps provide a wealth of features, ranging from automatic downloads and adjustable play speeds to cross-device syncing. They are also packed with different kinds of audio tools that enhance the listening experience.
Here, you’ll discover some of the most popular podcast apps for downloading and managing your shows.
- Apple Podcasts
- Pocket Casts
- Google Podcasts
Top Podcast Apps
The quickest and simplest way to jump into the world of podcasts is by using the built-in app on your smartphone. Android users have the Play Music app, while iOS users have Apple Podcasts. However, while these apps are reliable, they don’t have the most advanced feature set.
If you’re looking for advanced discovery options, customization, and social features, there’s a variety of third-party apps out there that can take your podcast experience to the next level.
To figure out the best podcast player for your needs, let’s look at the top contenders.
Apple Podcasts is a built-in app on iOS devices. It has a vast library of audio content with over a million shows. You can play every episode at a different speed using its adjustable controls. You can also set a sleep timer, so your player automatically stops after a certain time.
The app allows offline listening. Just download episodes you want to listen to, then you can replay them when you don’t have WiFi or cellular data. These episodes will be automatically deleted 24 hours after playing them.
Your podcast library syncs across all your devices, which gives you a seamless listening experience. If you decide to pause an episode on your smartphone, then switch to your laptop, you can easily pick up where you left off.
- Free to use
- Has cross-device syncing
- Has adjustable playback controls
- Limited to the Apple ecosystem
Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services in the world. If you’re already using it to listen to music, you could just as easily use it to tune into podcasts.
You can discover new shows to listen to through its curated playlists. Whether you’re into comedy, true crime, or politics, you’ll find something that will suit your taste. Now, you can make playlists of your favorite episodes. You can even add songs into the mix, which is especially convenient for repeat listening.
Using Spotify, you can download or stream your subscriptions on iOS and Android devices. You can also use other smart devices such as gaming consoles, speakers, TVs, and car systems.
It is available for free on iOS and Android. However, without a premium account, you’ll have to listen to ads throughout the episodes.
- Free to use
- Has exclusive podcasts
- Merges music and podcasts
- The free plan has basic features
Another podcast app that is designed for the iOS ecosystem is Overcast. Its clean and simple interface makes navigation hassle-free for its listeners. Whenever new episodes of your favorite shows are available, you’ll receive notifications. You can also download them for offline listening. If you’re low on storage space, you can set a download limit.
Overcast offers Voice Boost, a great feature that enhances the audio quality without increasing the volume. This lets you listen to your podcasts in noisy environments.
All of its features are available for free, but you’ll get ads between episodes. For ad-free listening, you can upgrade to a premium subscription which costs only $10 per year. You’ll also be able to upload your audio files to their servers and customize the color of the icon on your home screen for a bit of personalization.
- The free plan has advanced features
- Has playlist management controls
- Supports Apple Watch
- Limited to iOS devices
What makes Castro different from other podcast apps is its unique queue system for subscription management. Once a new episode of your favorite show airs, it will be added automatically to your queue. As for the rest of your shows, they will be added to an inbox, which you can browse whenever you want.
The queued episodes will be downloaded automatically when you’re connected to the internet, so you can play them offline. With Castro, you can listen at your own pace as the app comes with adjustable playback speeds from 0.8-3x.
Castro is available for free. However, it has a premium plan that comes with advanced features such as night mode and trim silence. You’ll just have to pay an annual fee of $18.99 to upgrade your podcast experience.
- Drag-and-drop playlist management
- Allows podcast sharing
- Has a CarPlay app
- Limited to iOS devices
5. Pocket Casts
After a huge redesign in 2019, Pocket Casts is now a free app with an optional premium subscription. It even has a trial version, so you can test the waters before fully committing to it. The app will not only help you find content that you’re interested in but will also help you manage everything with ease.
It enables continuous listening through its Up Next playback queue. Once an episode ends, the next one on the list will play automatically. On top of that, you can trim silence and skip the topics you’re least interested in to save time.
Pocket Casts is available for free on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, Alexa, Siri, Chromecast, Android Auto, and CarPlay. For exclusive features and customization options, including themes, cloud storage, and Apple Watch support, you can upgrade to its premium plan. You can get it for $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year.
- Has a 14-day free trial for Pocket Casts Plus
- Curated podcast recommendations
- 10 GB of cloud storage
- Doesn’t have the most advanced discovery features
One of the best podcast players for Apple devices is Downcast. It has a one-time subscription fee that will give you lifetime access to the app. It has amazing management and customization options, which suit the needs of regular podcast listeners.
You can create and edit your playlists on Downcast. Aside from adjustable playback controls, it has chapter support, gesture support, video support, and even a sleep timer.
If you are an Apple user in search of a relatively simple podcast app, Downcast is a good pick. It doesn’t overwhelm you with ads or recommendations. It also makes it easy for you to search and subscribe to new shows. What’s more, it allows you to skip all the ads and lengthy intros.
Downcast is compatible with Apple Watch, CarPlay, iOS, and Mac.
- Has headphone remote controls
- Has automatic downloads
- Supports family sharing (up to six members)
- Has a few bugs that make it crash
Breaker adds a social aspect to the podcast experience. You can connect it to your social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. You can even follow other users from the app itself to get recommendations. Aside from seeing what your contacts are listening to, you can send them messages and share your thoughts on new episodes from the app. You can also leave comments on every episode for others to see.
The app lets you start custom playlists for repeat listening. Not only that, it lets you speed up episodes to watch them at 0.5x to 3x speed. If you like listening to podcasts before bed, its timer settings will come in handy. It will automatically stop playing after 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes, helping conserve your battery life.
Breaker is available on iOS as well as Android.
- Free to use
- Has a light and dark mode
- Has 1 million+ podcasts
- Often has bugs
Featuring a simple yet intuitive interface, Castbox is arguably the best podcast listening app for mobile users. It has a unique recommendation engine, which makes it easier for you to find, access, and listen to audio content.
Castbox is available for free on iOS and Android, though it does come with a subscription limit and a lot of ads. You can sign in using Gmail, Twitter, or Facebook, then sync your library across multiple devices.
You can upgrade to premium to enjoy ad-free listening, advanced homepage customization, early access to the latest features, and priority support.
The app is compatible with Apple Watch, Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, CarPlay, and Google Home, making it ideal for those who like listening to podcasts while they are running or driving.
- Free to use
- Has 95 million volumes of audio content
- Syncs across multiple devices
- The free version has a lot of ads
Stitcher serves personalized recommendations based on the content you listen to. It also gives you new recommendations based on mutual listeners’ preferences.
Using the app, you can listen to 100,000+ podcasts from different genres. To help you get started, Stitcher lists its content by Top Shop, Top Movers, and Most Shared. You can create customized playlists to get the latest episodes the moment they drop. You can also download episodes so you can listen to them offline.
Sticher is available on the App Store and on Google Play. Since it’s supported by Amazon Echo, Sonos, and multiple car systems, you can listen to your favorite shows while you’re driving or washing the dishes.
Although you can get Stitcher for free, you might want to look into its premium version, which offers ad-free content, including WF with March Maron and Office Ladies. The premium app costs $4.99 per month. If you get the annual subscription fee, you can save a few bucks.
- Has a free trial
- Compatible with 50+ car models
- Has Amazon Echo support
- Some podcasts require premium access
10. Google Podcasts
Google has three different platforms for podcast listening. Of the three, Google Podcasts is the simplest option. It is easy to use. It is also packed with standard podcast features that let you listen at faster speeds and skip silences. On top of that, it lets you queue episodes for continued listening.
The app is home to a wide array of podcasts, ranging from education and technology to comedy. Aside from its personalized recommendations, you can discover new shows through Google Search or Google Assistant. You can also manage your history, subscriptions, and downloads with ease.
If you own a Google Home speaker, you can use the Google Podcasts app to play your audio content while you do chores, exercise, or meditate at home.
Google Podcasts is available for free.
- Free to use
- Has auto-download
- Enables offline listening
- Has basic features
How to Choose the Best Podcast App
There’s a wide range of podcast apps online. To narrow down your options, make sure to find the right app for your device. At the same time, you have to check for features that you’ll find the most useful, including:
If you like listening to podcasts on your daily commute or on your run, you should get an app that allows offline listening. You should be able to download your favorites, then listen to them offline whenever you want.
As with other mobile or web apps, your podcast player has to be easy to use. Navigation should be simple and hassle-free, so you can discover, manage, and listen to your shows with ease.
For a seamless listening experience, you should get an app that lets you manage your queue. After an episode, your app will automatically play the next one on the list, which makes podcast listening safe and convenient, especially for those who like to listen while driving or running.
An app with adjustable playback controls enables you to speed up your shows or slow them down, so you can listen to them at your own pace.
Some apps offer curated playlists, which let you explore new shows and creators. This is a very useful feature for newbies and regulars alike. For repeat listening, you should get an app that lets you create your own playlists.
Last but not least, consider the cost of the app you’re getting. Not all podcast apps are available for free. Although you can get most of them for zero cost, you can also upgrade to paid subscriptions to enjoy advanced customization, search, and filtering options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a podcast?
A podcast refers to an audio program that you can download or stream online across a variety of smart devices and personal computers.
What is the most popular podcast app?
In the US, Apple Podcasts is the go-to app for podcast listening. That’s because it’s built into every iOS device. It also has native apps for macOS and tvOS.
Which one is better: Spotify or Apple Podcasts?
The app that suits your needs and supports your devices will always be the best option for you. If you are an iPhone user and a casual podcast listener, Apple Podcasts will do. For those with a premium Spotify membership, you don’t have to look further and use the same app to listen to podcasts.
Can I listen to a podcast without WiFi?
Yes. However, not all podcast apps are made equal. You have to get an app with offline listening functionality to be able to enjoy your shows whenever and wherever you want.
What are the best free podcast apps for iOS?
Apple Podcasts is a default app that comes with your iPhone. It’s pretty convenient for newbies and casual listeners as it has basic features and functionalities. However, there are other third-party apps that offer advanced capabilities, which might be more appealing to users who listen to a diverse selection of shows on a regular basis.
What is the best free podcast app for Android?
Pocket Casts is arguably the best podcast app for Android. It makes content discovery easy, and it has playback controls, a user-friendly interface, and chapter navigation, among other features. On top of that, it’s now available for free.
Are podcasts free?
Listening to a podcast doesn’t have to cost you money. There are several free podcast apps already available that will let you conveniently discover, download, manage, and listen to your shows with zero cost. However, if you have the money to spare each month, you can opt to get premium services to improve your podcast experience.