Top 5 best alternative podcast apps for iPhone and iPad

TiPb checks out the best, most must-have podcasting apps to load up on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad

Top 5 best alternative podcast apps for iPhone and iPad

If Apple's built-in iPod/Music app just isn't enough for your podcast listening needs, you're in luck -- TiPb has put together our top 5 favorite podcast apps from the App Store. From finding to streaming to downloading to managing, these are the best podcatcher apps we've found to date. Read on to see our recommendations!


Instacast is a great app for managing and listening to podcasts. Instacast allows you to manage all your podcast subscriptions including subscribing to new ones all on the device. There is no need to use iTunes or sync your iPhone in any way.

Instacast has its own optimized podcast player app which includes features like 2x playback mode, bi-directional skipping and AirPlay. Instacast has even been written to make full use of the iPhone 4’s Retina display

The app has a beautiful and simple interface and even includes pull down to refresh; which will check for new podcasts and download them automatically.

[$1.99 App Store Link]


Podfisher is an app that I consider to be a half way house between the native podcast app and a third party app. The reason I say this is because Podfisher uses the iTunes database to retrieve the podcast episodes. This brings one positive and one negative.

The positive is that it syncs the podcasts you download over the air back to iTunes when you sync. This means if you use more than one iOS device you can keep all you podcasts in sync. The negative is how you actually download them. You have to click on one podcast at a time which takes you to the iTunes page for the podcast where you can manually download the latest episode. It is a bit of a pain to do that each time compared with the other podcast apps.

Podfisher uses the standard iPod music player so there are no new controls or interfaces to learn. It also gives you the ability to stream podcasts as well as locally cache them.

[$0.99 App Store Link]


Podcaster was one of the first third party podcast apps available and remains one of the favorites. It has a very polished user interface although does seem prone to the odd crash every now and then. It has all the features you could wish for in a podcast listening app; such as subscribing to new podcasts without the need for iTunes. Batch over the air updating including over 3G without any download limits, resume of downloads on interruption, Retina display graphics and audible alerts when new content is available and ready to listen to.

Podcaster has its own podcast player which features variable-speed playback, chapters, gestures, commercial skip buttons, and AirPlay.

[$1.99 App Store Link]


iCatcher is the first podcast app that is a universal binary; so works on both iPhone and iPad at native resolutions, a nice feature. It also covers most of the other bases too including background downloading over WiFi or 3G, schedule times to check updates, background playback of audio and playlists to name a few.

Again it has its own podcast player with all the usual features like AirPlay, track skipping, variable speed of playback and rewind. It also offers a gesture based control system with various swipe actions to toggle well used commands. Podcasts can be added via RSS feeds, a searchable database or via an OPML file.

[$1.99 App Store Link]

RSSRadio Mobile

RSSRadio mobile is another universal binary offering podcast playback on your iPhone or iPad. It is probably not the most feature rich offering but does cover most of the important ones.

Again it has the ability to download episodes of any size over WiFi and 3G, background audio playback, 2x speed playback, background downloading and password protected podcast support.

It definitely lacks a lot of the other apps bells and whistles and is the same price!

[$1.99 App Store Link]

Your favorite podcatcher?

While these may be some of our favorite apps to load up on our iOS devices to listen to podcasts, it doesn't mean there aren't other great ones out there. If you use something different let us know what your picks are as well.

And if you want even more suggestions on podcast and audio apps, check out our TiPb apps & games forum for more opinions from forum members. You can also give us your opinions on your favorite podcast apps in our TiPb apps & games review forum. We'd love to hear from you!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!


UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Top 5 best alternative podcast apps for iPhone and iPad


The last time I tried RSSRadio, it had no way to resume listening to a podcast. So if you're listening to an hour long show, you can not pick up where you left off. This is a deal breaker for me.

I'm with you, SilverRubicon, it's a deal breaker if the app doesn't remember where I was listening and automatically resume where I left off. I've been using Podcast Playlist while I commute because it remembers where I was listening and it's so simple I don't have to do anything after choosing the order I want to listen to my podcasts in. Not only does it resume where I left off, it also automatically queues new episodes in the order I want to listen to them. But since I listen while I commute, the best part is that its so simple all I do is hit play and the occasional skip back or forward 30 second buttons. I love setting things up once and never having to think about them again! But be ware, it's not for downloading podcasts. That's all done through iTunes which is mostly automated now that I have iCloud! It's been working well for me daily for the last 6 months on my commute.

I used Instacast for a quite awhile, but their "caching" mode was weird, didn't always work, and sent me notifications that didn't apply (i.e. "your podcasts are waiting to be downloaded," even though they were already), and video podcasts didn't always play, necessitating a force quit.
Am going with Downcast. It's the best of the lot that I've tried, which is about 5-6 different podcast apps (thank goodness for iTunes gift cards!).

I use pocketcast (i think that's the name of it. the icon just says 'casts').
Its good because you can download podcasts, add them to a playlist, and set it to delete casts that have been played already.
You can stream them too, but after a little glitchyness halfway through a long one, I just download what I want to hear.
Also a nice feature, you can set fast forward and rewind intervals to whatever time you want. You use them by tapping either the left or the right side of the podcast art in the now playing screen. Nice feature for when you're driving and you want to hear the last 30 seconds again... no fumbling through a slider.
boiled down: great app, some streaming glitches on long eps, but you don't need to stream anyways.

Hahahahahahahahahaha! The iCatcher app has a gesture to fast forward two minutes called the "Leo Jump"

I don't get it. What's the big deal with iTunes? It works perfectly fine. I have everything in one place. I have to plug my devices in to sync podcasts, but they do so so much quicker than having to do it over wi-fi or 3G. I just fell for the hype, un-synced all my iTunes podcasts, installed Downcast, and began having my device then painfully download each episode, one-by-one, all over again. Ok, this is done automatically, but as they were already on there in iTunes, why would I bother doing this? So that I can play at 2x or 1.5x - who wants to do this? When would this be useful? So that I don't have to plug into my iMac to sync - not a big enough advantage for me. I plug it in overnight, it's done. No big deal.

Using iTunes is painful on my computer. It crashes every time. Plus, I have a Droid and an iPad, so it's nice to use Play, Look, & Listen which syncs with my Google Reader subscriptions and syncs across both platforms.

I agree 100%. Although I have not tried all of the rest, I have been using Downcast since moving over from webOS and it is a great podcast app. What really surpised me is that Podfisher made the list and not Downcast! The manual download of a podcast from iTunes is a total FAIL when you compare the ease of other podcast apps. Come one guys, I may be new to iOS but even I could have come up with a better top 5. I think you should update this article and include Downcast and remove Podfisher. As a newbie, if I had come upon this article, I would have missed out on one of the great podcast apps out there and might have gone fishing with a lousy app. [Hope you enjoyed the pun!]

Absolutely agree: Downcast is a fantastic app! I tried a number (though admittedly not all the ones above :) ) and found Downcast to be the best.

Thanks for the recommendation. I just went to the App Store and as soon as I saw the screenshots, I bought it. $1,99. I am totally convinced this is the best poscast listening app I have owned.
Its feature set is jut so well though out.
I started with Sticher > Podcaster > Instacast > Downcast

I'm looking for an app which will let me two things:
a) resume playing mp3 where I stopped last time (no reset after synch or update)
b) download mp3 directly and not via a podcast stream
does any of the podcast players allow it? i don't want to try them all with $2 cost.