They say video killed the radio star, and this was certainly true in the early 1980s when we gleefully threw away our radios and became exclusively TV zombies. Fast forward 30 years and the radio star has since been resurrected in the form of the podcast.
Podcasting first became popular in late 2004, but really started to pick up 10 years later in 2014 with the successful podcast Serial. We’re now officially hooked and thoroughly enjoy the incredible range of podcasts we listen to on our way to work, at the gym, grocery shopping, and basically anywhere you want to be transported away from real life. We’ve scoured the best apps on the market for the ultimate podcast addict, but what is the real difference between each app and how do you go about choosing the best one for you?
If you’re on a student budget and don’t have any extra cash to pay for your podcast addiction, try Stitcher Radio. This on-demand radio service focuses on news, information radio and podcasts, and is available free for Android and ioS. Because Stitcher Radio is free, it comes with the unavoidable ads but still offers all the biggest names in the world of podcasts. Founded in 2008, the company has been awarded with accolades and was one of TechCrunch’s 20 best apps. The app has access to breaking news while you’re online, and if you have particular interests you can set alerts on your device. With this app you can create your own stations and playlists for any situation.
Another free app, Overcast, is simple-to-use with a pleasing interface, perfect for the everyday listener. It’s available only on iOS and can be downloaded on your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. There are tons of great features like Smart Speed, which cuts out long silences on radio shows, saving you some precious time and ensuring you have a seamless listening experience. Voice Boost makes sure you’ll be listening to every show at the same volume, so forget wasting time constantly adjusting the volume. You’ll also be able to create smart playlists with filters, priorities and sorting rules. Another useful feature is that Overcast lets you stream episodes in case you decide you’d prefer not to download—a perk for those with limited storage on their devices. Naturally for a free app, Overcast has ads, but if you’re getting fed up listening to them, there’s a small subscription fee to stop them. It’s a fantastic option for the free listener.
Seamless User-Friendly Interface
If a friendly and attractive user-interface is your jam, there are a bunch of great apps to suit your needs. Pocket Casts is a great way to search and download popular podcasts. Available for $3.99 on Android & iOS, it has a modern interface and is technologically smart as it allows you to synchronize your subscriptions and preferences across devices. There are additional settings that let you control your download preferences, which is useful in case you have limited data. Pocket Casts offers video podcasts in addition to audio and you can easily search for new podcasts. There are tabs for finding trending podcasts, featured podcasts, and the most popular podcasts, as well as a search bar so users can look for specific programs. The $3.99 download charge is a one-off so once you’ve downloaded the app you get complete access to features such as volume boost, which increases the volume of playback without changing your device’s volume. You’ll also get a silence trimmer, which automatically fast forwards through silence if the podcast has dead air for some reason.
The app BeyondPod is well known for its impressive user interface, and an unlimited selection of podcasts to choose from. It’s available free on Android in its basic form, but charges $6.99 for the premium version, which includes tons of useful settings. You can set the app to run scheduled downloads of new podcasts at a time that works for you so you definitely won’t miss episodes of your favorite shows. You’ll also have access to Smart Playlists, which allows you to set up a queue of programs in the order that suits your life, so if you like to listen before you go to sleep you can set the app to stop playing after a predetermined period of time, or automatically delete episodes after you’re finished listening.
For the Apple Lovers
If you’re committed to your Apple products, the Downcast app has excellent features and downloading options for your iPhone. It has a sleek interface and specific features to improve your downloading experience. Naturally the app allows you to search and subscribe for both audio and video podcasts. If you subscribe to a podcast episode the app will automatically add the latest episode to your list. You’ll then have settings which allow you to download all the recent episodes, or mark all new for streaming in order to save space instead of downloading them. One of the handiest features is the gesture support, which comes in handy if you’ve got your eyes on somewhere else, ie. on the road or in bed, you can use the gestures to toggle playback, move back and forward in the podcast, and mark an episode as played or unplayed.
If you’re just starting out in the world of podcasts, Castro, ($4.99 for iOS) is a fitting option. It’s also useful if you haven’t got a ton of podcasts to store. The app boasts features including a continuous play option, a bunch of settings for data management, a sleep timer, and gestures that make it easy to control while you’re on the go. The app also allows you to avoid downloading podcasts and stream instead which helps if you don’t have too much storage on your device. The app has a simple user-interface, with a night mode which helps when you’re working the night shift. There’s a sleep timer, a playback speed controller, and some useful discovery features that let you explore other podcasts you haven’t heard yet.
iCatcher, as you might guess, is another iPhone only podcast app. It syncs seamlessly with all your Apple devices, and at a very reasonable $1.99 it’s a cheaper alternative. iCatcher has an intuitive user-interface for searching podcasts and with a powerful search engine it allows users to easily search for hidden podcasts. The app boasts some features that other apps don’t, like the ability to play a podcast at 4 different speeds. It can also manage both a large or small amount of podcasts.
For the Die-Hard Android User
If Apple products aren’t your thing, the podcast app DoggCatcher could be for you. Available for $2.99 on Android only, the app allows for simple searches, helping you to find new podcasts, broken up into 3 sections by audio, video and news. The app has been around for a while now which shows it’s much-loved. Some really smart features include the ability to customize the size of your audio player, and a useful sleep timer just in case you’re somebody who likes to fall asleep during audio play. The app also allows you to control the playback speed. The app has no in-app purchases, so for $2.99 you’re getting a great deal.
Another solid app for Android users is the Podcast & Radio Addict app, and a nice perk is that it’s completely free. The app also supports Pebble devices and Android Wear and Android Auto. It allows you to listen to audio and video podcasts and you can also tune in to your favorite radio station so it would suit you if you’re a fan of radio shows. Some users have commented on the cluttered user interface but for a free app, it includes all the features that paid apps offer including download preference settings, audio and video podcasts, widgets, themes, and a lot more.
If you enjoy online radio, TuneIn Radio is for you. Completely free, this app incorporates your favorite podcasts in addition to a live radio player. It includes a connection to the Google App, so can be voice activated—a nice perk if your hands are often busy. Despite the app being free you can pay for a premium version, which you really only need to do if you’re a sports fan since it gives you access to all major sports in the US and over 40,000 audiobooks for free use at any time.
Technology has been heating up. Every one of these listed apps have competitive features that no matter which app you pick, it will likely meet your expectations. Whether you’re an Apple or Android user, the prices are low enough that you won’t break your bank and you’ll be signing up to a lifetime of endless podcasts/shows.