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.
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. But what's the best way to do it? Whether you're trying to get our podcasts - iMore show, Debug, Iterate, Ad hoc, Vector, or ZEN & TECH - or any of the other great internet shows, here are our favorite podcast apps to do it with!
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.
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 your best option.
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.
Despite those Shifty Jellys cheekily updating Android to the new version of Pocket Casts before iOS, the old version still does such interesting things it's impossible to leave off the list. Pocket Casts' magic is on the server side. They maintain their own director, 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.
While there are lots of podcast apps on 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!