Castro for iPhone might just be the best looking podcast app yet

Since iOS 7 launched, we've been treated to a deluge of stunning looking applications, both brand new and updates of old favorites, and now Castro has joined the party. A brand new app for iOS 7, Castro is a podcast application for the iPhone. And it is stunning. But good looks aren't everything, it needs to be packing where it matters, and thankfully, Castro delivers in function as well as form.

Castro takes an insanely simple approach to organising and playing your podcasts. The main screen will show a list of all your subscribed feeds on one tab, and new and recent episodes on another. Adding a new feed is as easy as hitting the '+' button, searching for the podcast you want, and hitting the '+' button again at the side of the podcast search listings. With Notification Center you're notified every time there's a new podcast to play in one of your subscribed feeds.

There's nothing in the way of generalized settings for Castro either. You're given the freedom to tailor these by each podcast feed. When you tap on one of your subscriptions you're taking to a fantastic looking themed page built from the avatar image for that podcast – hence the amazing blue and green backgrounds in the screenshots above – with an option for settings. Tapping this presents a series of toggles to subscribe or unsubscribe, auto download new episodes, a news mode which only keeps the latest episode and marks all others as listened, and an option to change the playback speed.

Playback control takes on gestures, in that scrolling left or right across the minimal playback bar at the bottom of the screen will scrub backwards and forwards through that episode. As this is a full iOS 7 app, the swipe to the right takes you back a screen wherever you are, and the playback bar always remains at the bottom if you're listening to something. It's there, but it doesn't get in the way. It also takes full advantage of the background updates feature to keep everything up to date without you needing to worry too much about it.

If there's one criticism I'd have right now of Castro, it's the lack of a browsable podcast catalog such as something like Pocket Casts or even Apple's own Podcasts app has. It's not a deal breaker, but you do need to have some kind of idea what you want before you start filling up your feeds. There's also no dedicated iPad version, which is a shame, but we're hoping one comes because this would look awesome on that bigger display.

The good

  • Looks incredible
  • Simple, intuitive to use
  • Makes full use of iOS 7 features such as gestures and background updates

The bad

  • No dedicated iPad version
  • No browsable podcast catalog
  • No video playback yet

The bottom line

Castro is probably the best looking podcast app in the App Store right now. The theming is a nice touch, but it's also very definitely a current, iOS 7 inspired app and it's all the better for it. The lack of a browsable catalog is a slight downer, as is no current proper iPad support, but neither of those are a deal breaker. Personally speaking, I've found my new podcast app of choice.

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 21 comments. Add yours.

Malfoy says:

How does it compare to instacast 4? That's what I currently across my Apple devices.

Aenean144 says:

Does it auto-play your podcasts in chronological order? This is my number one feature.

I assume it will auto-delete podcasts that have been listened to, and auto-downloads new podcasts episodes. My least favorable feature of Instacast is that it sometimes forget that I've listened to this or that podcast, and it decides to download a series of old episodes. Not sure if that is a problem on the client side or on the server side.

Richard Devine says:

Yup. Both mentioned in the article, though my choice of words may not have made it clear, so I apologize for that :).

You can tell it what you want to keep per podcast, so it should auto delete. If you set auto download on, it should just happen in the background.

hobojo says:

I've been have same problem occasionally with Pocket Casts. Not sure the cause of the problem neither.

Richard Devine says:

Thanks will add that as a "the bad" point. I don't do video podcasts on my iPhone so I've not noticed that!

Antron says:

Can you input custom URL's?

Richard Devine says:

Search does allow you to enter a URL. If you've an obscure one that you like drop the address in here and i'll check it out :)

Antron says:

No obscure one lol. Just read in the reviews that URL's couldn't be added. I may give it a shot.

Richard Devine says:

If the podcast you're looking for has a URL attached, maybe in description or something, it seems to show up a search result. There's no dedicated URL entry feature.

EPJS says:

I don't know if you realize this... but those screenshots are... ugly! "Best looking" is a joke.

Richard Devine says:

That's obviously your opinion. We don't write headlines or articles as a 'joke'

EPJS says:

The Android podcast gets an ugly green color on the entire screen. The iMore podcast gets an obnoxious blue on the entire screen. What part is "best looking" to you? It's the same crap Apple pulled with iTunes 11 when you click on a movie, taking the color of the cover art. Well if a movie has yellow on the cover, I do NOT want to see a yellow screen. This app does the exact same thing with podcasts that iTunes 11 does with movies.

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taguntumi says:

Looked at it on the store earlier and am sticking with Downcast at the moment. It, and Casts, don't offer per podcast flexibility as Downcast does. News mode is something like I want but Downcast allows you to set how many episodes are kept per podcast. So on daily news you can keep just one, on others 3,5 or all etc.

One thing neither offer but would be good is delete episodes after x days.

emjayess says:

Doesn't seem to have my must-have feature: buttons to rewind or fast forward in increments such as with Downcast. I might try Castro if they add it.

Richard Devine says:

fast forward only does 30 second increments right now, but the gesture scrubbing is pretty nice :)

hobojo says:

I find the simpler look appealing, but I am hesitant to pay $3 for an app without being able to try it first. Most of us have wasted plenty of $ in the past on apps, especially since Apple won't give refunds

asuperstarr says:

This is nice podcast app. This may make me give up the Apple podcast app. Love the layout!

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Bcl1973 says:

I've bought it & added the 54 podcasts I listen too, it's refreshingly simple but I've been testing it today & as yet it doesn't auto skip to the next podcast once an show has finished. So u still have to take your phone out of your pocket to pick the next show. This is a 1.0 so I'm guessing when feed back comes flooding in we'll get updates soon. Beautiful to look at tho :-)

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