Whether you’re cleaning, going on a walk, or just hanging around, a good podcast can help you make the most of your time. But with all the podcast apps on the Google Play store, it can be difficult to pick an app that actually works for you. Here are the best options available today.
Before Downloading a Podcast App
Podcast apps come in all shapes and sizes. Some are built with complicated controls and features, while others are straightforward, clean, and easy for beginners who are just getting their feet wet.
So before we look at any apps, let’s take a moment to review some important podcast app features and design choices:
- Navigation: Some podcast apps are difficult for beginners to navigate. It sounds odd, but it’s a common complaint, especially for all-in-one apps that include music, news, RSS, and other services. In our experience, Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher are the easiest apps to use out the gate.
- Offline Listening: All of the podcast apps in this article allow for offline listening. But some of them, like Pocket Casts, have customizable downloading features for automatic or scheduled downloads.
- Speed Controls: Most podcast apps have smart speed controls, which increase (or decrease) the speed of your podcast without changing pitch or tone. The only app on this list without speed controls is Google Play Music (that said, the Google Podcasts app does have speed controls).
- Queue and Playlists: Most podcast apps have built-in queues, which are useful when you’re in the mood to binge podcasts. Podcast Addict and Stitcher also have playlist features, which can help you download podcasts in bulk or plan out listening sessions for different days of the week.
- Smart Assistant Compatibility: All of the podcast apps on this list can cast audio to Chromecast, Alexa, or Sonos speakers. As of right now, Google Podcasts is the only app that integrates directly into Google Assistant (so you can ask Assistant to pull up a podcast).
- Android Wear, Android Auto: Most of the apps on this list work with Android Wear and Android Auto. The exceptions are DoggCatcher and Stitcher, which support Android Auto but not Android Wear.
- All-In-One Solutions: Podcast Addict, DoggCatcher, Spotify, and Google Play Music offer additional features, like music streaming, radio listening, news, RSS, and more. These options are good for power users, but may be overwhelming to beginners.
Now that you know what to look for in a podcast app, let’s get right into it. Here are the best podcast apps for Android phones and tablets.
Best Overall: Pocket Casts (Free, $1/Month for Exclusive Themes)
Pocket Casts is the real deal. It has a clean interface that’s easy to navigate, its discovery menu pulls up podcasts that are actually relevant to what you listen to, and its auto-download and scheduled download features are the tops. Pocket Casts even has an automatic cleanup tool that deletes saved podcasts from your phone once you’re done listening—a useful feature that should be in all podcast apps.
These features are, of course, accompanied by things like speed controls, sleep timers, and a queue. Pocket Casts is a premium app, but its free version will work for most people. Pocket Casts Plus, which costs $1 a month or $10 a year, simply grants you access to the desktop version of pocket casts, plus custom app themes and 10GB of cloud storage (so you can listen to your own files through the Pocket Casts app).
Great for Beginners: Google Podcasts (Free)
Google Podcasts is arguably the most straightforward podcast app for Android devices. Other apps have a mess of navigation menus, but Google Podcasts has just three: the Home tab, the Explore tab, and the Activity tab (which includes your queue, downloads, and history).
This simple interface makes Google Podcasts a fantastic option for novice podcast listeners. But feature-wise, Google Podcasts is powerful enough to even the most podcast-obsessed. Its speed controls, sleep timer, and queuing tools are similar to what you’ll find in Pocket Casts, and its compatibility with Google Assistant is both unique and convenient.
An All-In-One Media App: Podcast Addict (Free, $3 Ad-Free)
Why jump between a bunch of different apps when you can do everything from Podcast Addict? Unlike other podcast apps, Podcast Addict offers access to audiobooks, radio streams, local music files, YouTube, Twitch, SoundCloud channels, and even RSS feeds, all in one place.
All of this extra content doesn’t take away from Podcast Addict’s core listening features. Like other popular apps, Podcast Addict has speed controls, auto-download and delete features, and a robust discovery panel. But it’s also loaded with unique controls, like optional mono playback, playlist support, and chapter support for audiobooks.
Podcast Addict is totally free, but has a small ad banner at the bottom of the screen. This ad banner can be removed with a one-time $3 purchase.
Discover New Podcasts: DoggCatcher ($3)
DoggCatcher is a premium app that’s popular among longtime podcast listeners. Its interface is a little dated (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but its discovery and customization features are the best that you’ll find in a podcast app. DoggCatcher allows you to search through personalized podcast recommendations, browse podcast and news directories, or flip through the top 100 podcasts at any time.
Like other apps, DoggCatcher has speed controls and offline listening features. The app also lets you configure your feed, create automatic download and cleanup routines, categorize podcasts, and create playlists on the fly.
DoggCatcher is a paid app and costs $3 through the Google Play store.
Podcasts and Music: Spotify, Google Play Music ($10/Month)
While they aren’t built for hardcore podcast listening, Spotify and Google Play Music can serve as your introduction to podcasts, or as a hub for listening to the occasional podcast. These apps don’t have the libraries of other podcast apps, but they carry popular shows from iHeartRadio, NPR, and other stations.
We’ll start with Spotify, as its podcast features are a little more developed than Google Play’s. Spotify offers speed controls for podcasts, along with the ability to follow podcasts, download episodes for offline listening, and add episodes to playlists.
Really, the shining feature of Spotify is Your Daily Drive, a daily playlist that mixes your favorite music with podcasts and news for your day. This is a pretty unique feature in the world of podcast-listening, and it makes up for Spotify’s small library of podcasts and wonky interface.
Spotify costs $10 a month but comes with a free month-long trial.
Google Play Music doesn’t have as many podcast features as Spotify, but the app is a bit easier to navigate and is a decent option for Google Play Music users who are just starting to listen to podcasts. You can’t adjust playback speed in the app, but you can follow podcasts, download episodes for offline listening, and add episodes to playlists.
Like Spotify, Google Play Music costs $10 a month and starts with a one-month free trial.
Build Podcast Playlists: Stitcher (Free, $5/Month for Premium)
If playlist features are your primary interest, then Stitcher is your best option. It’s a popular app among some longtime podcast listeners, and alongside its offline listening and speed adjustment features, it has the best playlisting tools of any podcast app. Playlists are easy to generate, and can dynamically update to include the newest episodes of each podcast. They can also contain static podcast episodes, so you can build up a supply of interesting content to go back to later.
Stitcher is free on the Google Play Store. If you want, you can pay $5 a month for Stitcher Premium, which comes with exclusive content from popular podcasts and Stitcher Original shows (like Mob Queens and Science Rules!).