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