The iOS 11 update to the Apple Podcasts app hasn’t been well received. In an effort to simplify the app, Apple has ended up with an app where everything is now one tap further than it used to be. The new Podcasts app brings Apple Music style UI to Podcasts app. The Now Playing controls, queue management and option menus are lifted directly from the Music app.
But what works (okay) in the Music app doesn’t in the Podcast app. For instance, tapping an episode in the Listen Now tab doesn’t instantly start playing it. Instead, you’re taken to the detailed listing of the episode, where you find the Play button. Little frustrations like this are littered throughout the app.
If you only use the Podcast app sparingly, you might not run into these issues. But if you have more than a dozen podcasts that you listen to regularly, these little annoyances will add up. If you’re a podcast fan, you should be using a better app.
Overcast is our top recommendation for the best podcasting client for iPhone and iPad. Its thoughtful design caters to a large swath of podcast listeners. The app has a really simple UI that you can adapt to quickly.
Once you’ve got your podcasts and playlists se tup, you’ll be able manipulate the queue using just the handle icon next to a podcast episode. Tap on an episode from the list and you’ll see options for playing the episode or adding it to another podcast.
As Overcast supports an RSS feed, you’ll be able to search and add any podcast you want. For people who listen to a lot of podcasts, there’s the Smart Speed feature. It intelligently removed pauses and silent breaks in a podcast. The Voice Boost feature increases the volume of the podcast without negatively affecting the sound quality.
Overcast is free and even the ads on the app are about podcasts. You can remove the ads and get access to the sweet Dark mode and dark icon by signing up for the premium account ($9.99/year).
Overcast’s Apple Watch app acts as a simple controller for the iPhone app. You can control the playback and switch between episodes from the current queue.
2. Pocket Casts
If you’ve been listening to podcasts for years, and on Android, you might be familiar with Pocket Casts. It’s the best podcast app on Android and it’s one of the best on iOS.
While Overcast takes a playlist first approach to podcasting, Pocket Casts takes a podcast first approach. The playlist and queue management features are there, they’re just hidden behind the side bar and option menus. When you open Pocket Casts, you’ll be greeted by a grid of all your podcasts. Tap on a podcast artwork, find the latest podcast and tap on the Play button to get started.
In the recent update, Pocket Casts overhauled their Discovery section and now, it’s a great way to discover new podcasts. Pocket Casts also the equivalent of Overcast’s silence removal and voice boost features.
The main difference here is that Pocket Casts is a paid (and ad free app). It costs $3.99 on the App Store. You also get access to the Apple Watch app. Pocket Casts also has a great (fully featured) web client. If you want a consistent podcast experience across iOS, Android and the Web, Pocket Casts is the best option for you.
Download: Pocket Casts ($3.99)
3. Castro 2
Castro 2 is a different kind of podcast app. It takes an inbox style approach to podcast. The philosophy behind Castro is that you’re not going to listen to every episode of every podcast you subscribe to. So when a new episode shows up from a podcast you’re subscribed to, it will show up in your Inbox.
It’s now your job to decide what to do with it. Add it the queue or archive it. The app does make things easier for you by letting you automatically add new episodes from a given podcast to the queue.
The app itself is really well design (the UI work is top notch). And it already supports iOS 11’s drag and drop feature on the iPhone. So you can select multiple episodes, then hold them with one finger, navigate to another playlist and drop them.
Download: Castro 2 ($3.99)
4. Stitcher Radio
Stitcher Radio is a podcasting platform more than it’s a podcast app. An app like Overcast will let you listen to any publicly available RSS based podcast feed. But Stitcher will only let you play podcasts that are on its platform. Plus, Stitcher might introduce its own ads.
Still, if you like listening to podcasts, you’ll find interesting stuff on Stitcher. They might be freely available podcasts or a narrative or comedy podcast that’s exclusive to Stitcher.
The app itself is basic. There’s nothing to write home about. Where Stitcher shines are the over the top features. You start out with a personalized page where you’ll find recommendations for podcasts and episodes you might find interesting. If you’re paying for Stitcher Premium ($4.99/month), you’ll get an ad-free experience, bonus content and exclusive Stitcher Originals shows.
Download: Stitcher Radio
Podbean is the most common denominator of the iPhone podcast app, in a good way. It has a generic, utilitarian interface and has integrated features first introduced by its competitors. So you’ll find simple queue management, silence removal and voice boost features here.
Stitcher-like personalized feed and Pocket Casts style discovery sections are also present here. And it has some quirky features of its own like integration with Amazon Alexa. The app is completely free to use.
Your Favorite Podcast App?
Before Overcast came out, I was a devout Pocket Casts user. Now, I can’t think of switching over from Overcast.
What is the podcast client you ended up choosing? And why? Let us know in the comments below.