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The Best Podcast Apps For Your Smartphone

If you’re not enjoying the wealth of podcasts out there, you’re really missing out. Podcasts provide you with the experience of a radio show—ranging from in-depth information on a wide variety of subjects to light hearted comedy—but are available whenever and where ever you want to listen, if you have a good app to manage them that is.

With hundreds of thousand different podcasts available, there’s going to be something you love to listen to—whether it’s a political analysis show or a true crime exploration—but many people get hung up on how to even get started. Fortunately a good podcast app makes it easy to not only find new content but collect your favorite content and listen to it efficiently.

While Apple’s Podcasts does a decent job for iPhone owners and there’s always Google Play Music for Android users, the world of podcast apps is so much more diverse than those two old standbys. Here’s a look at some of our favorite apps to supercharge your podcast experience.

Overcast (iOS, Free)

For iOS users, Overcast is the app that’s well positioned to replace Apple’s default app. It’s powerful yet remarkably simple to use, offering various smart features. One of its best features is Smart Speed, which speeds up the podcast without distorting the conversation. If you’re impatient like me, it’s a real time saver without the quality being diminished.

Elsewhere in the app you’ll find other great, albeit smaller features, like podcast filtering or the option to add individual episodes without committing to a subscription, that makes Overcast worthwhile. If you nod off listening to podcasts, it even has a sleep timer like many TVs.

A $10 premium upgrade gets rid of the ads, but they’re far from intrusive. You can get a lot of this app entirely for free.

Pocket Casts (iOS/Android/Web, $4-$9)

Available for both iOS and Android, as well as in a web based build, Pocket Casts is great for users that switch between different devices—and the comprehensive feature set means you won’t be punished for your platform switching.

The app offers recommendations, popularity charts, and a trending feature so you can gain some insight into what might be worth checking out. More importantly, you can trim the silences between episodes, reducing the amount of time it’ll take you to listen to each show. The app can even automatically build an Up Next queue so there’s always something new to listen to (and it syncs across devices just like the other app features). The app also supports CarPlay, AirPlay, Googlecast, and Sonos.

The mobile app is $4 and the web app is $9, but that’s a small price to pay if you’re an avid podcast listener.

Podcast Addict (Android, Free)

Podcast Addict is to Android and Overcast, highlighted above, is to iOS—it offers the same incredibly enhanced experience. Podcast Addict offers everything you could want and then some. Besides offering management tools for podcasts, it also caters for audio books, live streams, YouTube, Twitch, and SoundCloud channels. If there’s something you want to listen to, Podcast Addict can probably handle it.

There’s the usual bevy of features like a new and trending category that’s easy to browse, as well as playback speed adjustments for listening to podcasts faster. It’s the sheer extent of what services you can use that makes Podcast Addict stand out, though. The ability to browse content from so many different sources, all via a welcoming and easy to use interface, is a big advantage. All those features in a free package make it a no-brainer choice for Android users.

Downcast (iOS, $2.99-$4.99)

There’s nothing glum or downbeat about Downcast, despite what the name might call to mind. It works across all your Apple devices including iOS, Mac, Apple Watch, and CarPlay,  and the app is a pretty stylish solution for all your podcast needs at that.

Downcast’s easy to use interface does a really great job starting your podcast experience off simply enough but there are powerful features hiding right at your finger tips like password-protected podcasts, the ability to rename podcast titles, and audio boost for your podcasts that aren’t mixed to your satisfaction, a sleep timer, and chapter support for enhanced podcasts. Once you’ve got things set up how you like them, you can switch between devices with iCloud app sync keeping track of exactly how you like things.

CastBox (iOS/Android, Free)

Winner of multiple awards, CastBox is a useful podcast app for listeners and creators alike. Through it, you can subscribe to over 1 million podcast channels, as well as check out numerous radio channels and audio books. For creators, you can easily upload your content via the app, with no audio uploading restrictions.

Impressively, CastBox provides in-audio search so you can easily search for anything to do with your favorite subject (even if that subject isn’t explicitly detailed in the title or description of a podcast) all within a few taps. All podcasts are searchable via tags too, making it simple to find a new favorite.

Additionally, there are key features like Google Cast support, as well as Amazon Echo support, so you can easily sling your podcasts to your smart audio system.

Castro 2 (iOS, $4.99)

Castro 2 isn’t like other podcast apps. It understands we’re all strapped for time so it uses a triage style system to help you prioritize content. Newly published episodes show up in your app’s inbox, so you can skim through their descriptions to decide whether they’re a must-listen-now item or an archive-for-later item.

In the archive, you can always find any podcasts you missed out on, but the focus here is on delivering the right content for the moment you’re in. It’s the kind of service that’s ideal if you regularly feel swamped by having too many different podcasts to keep up on.

There’s the usual bunch of recommendations along with CarPlay support, a Widget, and enhanced audio. The real killer feature though is the Triage option, which will no doubt save you plenty of time in the long term, even if the app does lack some basic features found in other apps like silence trimming and accelerated playback.

Image by David M G/Shutterstock.


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