Best podcast apps for iPhone and iPad: Podcasts, Instacast, Downcast, and more!
The best podcast apps for finding and subscribing to new shows, keeping your shows in sync, and enjoying them on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad no matter where you are.
Look for the best iPhone apps or best iPad apps to keep up with your favorite podcasts? Depending on who you ask, podcasts are either fringe media for geeks, the future of radio and television, or something in between. Apple embraced them years ago, providing an entire section in iTunes dedicated to making podcasts easy to find and easy to follow. They also created the iPod, and then the iPhone, and the iPad, making it just as easy to listen and watch podcasts anywhere and everywhere you go. Whether you're trying to get our podcasts - iMore show, Debug, Iterate, Review, The TV Show, Vector, or ZEN & TECH - or any of the other great internet shows, the most important question is what podcast app should you use?
Podcasts is Apple's own podcast app. It doesn't come pre-loaded on iOS, so you have to download it separately, but it is functional and it is free. Podcasts lets you browse the iTunes podcasts catalog, subscribe to shows, and listen to or watch them. You can also create custom stations, and on-the-go playlists so you've always got something ready when and where you want it. It's quick and easy to use, however it doesn't scale well if you have tons of shows and episodes to manage.
Because it's free and relatively simple, Podcasts is a great choice for anyone just getting started with podcasts, or anyone who wants a no frills app to manage a small set of shows.
- Free - Download now
Instacast keeps re-inventing itself which means you do have to re-buy the app more frequently than others, but you also get some significant updates each time. Most recently Instacast switched from iCloud sync to their own service. It does require a free account, but it's rock-solid. Instacast includes its own directory and rankings, and a slew of power-user features, though it keeps them accessible and easy to use. There's also a Mac version, so you can have Instacast on all your Apple devices.
If you want to keep your podcasts perfectly in sync from iPhone and iPod touch, to iPad, to Mac, Instacast is one of the best options available.
Downcast is both easy to get started with, but also full of power features for power users. The interface is straight forward and direct, so it's easy to find, subscribe to, and play what you want. However, Downcast also provides a large amount of settings you can tweak for everything from gesture shortcuts to skip backwards and forwards, to how long and what to keep locally on your device.
If you subscribe to a lot of podcasts and want to micro-manage everything from how they're stored to how you navigate through them, get Downcast. It's available for the Mac as well.
Pocket Casts is not only functional, but has an amazingly striking interface. However, Pocket Casts' real magic is on the server side. They maintain their own directory, and do a lot of things to ensure the quality and reliability of their catalog. That might not sound like it makes a big difference, but it really can. In addition to instant refreshes, you can also share podcasts, episodes, or even positions within episodes.
If you've ever been frustrated by lack of curation, out of date listings, or any other problems with raw podcast feeds and updates, Pocket Casts is worth a look.
- $3.99 - Download now
iCatcher! is a sleek and easy to use podcast app that features background app refresh, downloads over wifi and cellular, and much more. You can also password protect specific podcast feeds if you want or need to. Anything you add to iCatcher! you can manage as well as AirPlay to other supported devices.
If you want a podcast app that's fully customizable, doesn't skimp on feature set, and shows a lot of information at a single glance, iCatcher! is a great choice.
- $2.99 - Download Now
Castro is one of the best looking podcasts apps I've ever used, aside from Pocket Casts. It's simple, easy to use, supports swipe gestures, and lots more. It doesn't offer a lot of the bells and whistles other podcast apps offer but for casual listeners, the minimalistic design and the experience the app provides makes up for it.
If you're a casual podcast listener who wants a hassle free experience and you don't care about iPad support, you want Castro.
- $3.99 - Download Now
Pod Wrangler is by the same developer of the popular RSS app Feed Wrangler, which is also one of our favorite RSS apps for iPhone. If you use the Feed Wrangler service, you can tie your account right into Pod Wrangler as well. If you don't, you can still use Pod Wrangler. Just like Feed Wrangler, Pod Wrangler features a super clean interface. You can subscribe to up to 5 podcasts for free and can unlock unlimited subscriptions via in-app purchase if you need to.
If you already have a paid subscription to the Feed Wrangler service, Pod Wrangler is a no brainer.
- Free - Download Now
Your favorite podcast app for iPhone or iPad?
While there are lots of podcast apps available in the App Store, these are the ones we've found that offer the best service for the most people. Everyone's personal taste, and use case, varies, however, so if we missed out on including your favorite podcast app, make sure you tell us all about it in the comments!
Note: Originally published July 2013. Updated June 2014.