The Best Podcast Apps for the iPhone [January 2021]
Podcasts have been around for nearly twenty years, but it’s taken a while for them to hit the mainstream. It’s impossible to say how many podcasts exist today, both current and in archived forms, but no matter your interests, you’re bound to find something that suits you. Everyone from athletes and comedians to journalists and entertainers, and just people in a garage with a couple of microphones. These all range a ton in terms of content and length, which means there truly is something for everyone. If you want a quick and funny podcast or a long and thought-provoking one, both options are easily accessible.
All you need to enjoy these tons of amazing podcasts is your phone and a podcasting app. While Apple has their own app for finding Podcasts, it has some issues and isn’t always the best option. While it is suitable, there are many better options out there for your podcasting needs. Because of the popularity of podcasting, many different developers have released their own podcasts apps which can be downloaded from the App Store.
With so many options to choose from, how do you know which podcasting app to pick? Thankfully, we’ve gathered our favorite podcast apps into a single guide to help you get started. Let’s dive in!
When it comes to choosing a fantastic podcast app on iOS, it’s basically impossible to beat Overcast. Developed by Marco Arment, best known for serving as the CTO of Tumblr until 2010 and developing Instapaper soon after, Overcast is truly the best app. It has a fantastic design, it’s packed with features, and it’s super easy to listen to your favorite shows or discover new ones. But truly, the best part of the app is how feature packed it is, and that’s why it’s worth taking a look at each feature at a time, starting with its most famous: Smart Speed.
Smart Speed looks to shorten the various silences that you may experience in a podcast like dead air, conversational pauses and more. The app does this by conveniently speeding up areas of the podcast that it feels are unimportant. And while you might think this could be annoying, it really isn’t very noticeable at all. You will not even know this is happening, but it will save you a ton of time in the long run. You can go look at the settings and you will be shocked to see just how much time this feature will save you. This is one of the most helpful and unique features in the app and could save you hours and hours of your time each week.
The first feature that we should look at is arguably the apps most popular and famous, and that is Smart Speed. Smart Speed looks to shorten the various silences that you may experience in a podcast like dead air, conversational pauses and more. The app does this by conveniently speeding up areas of the podcast that it feels are unimportant. And while you might think this could be annoying, it really isn’t very noticeable at all. You will not even know this is happening, but it will save you a ton of time in the long run. You can go look at the settings and you will be shocked to see just how much time this feature will save you. This is one of the most helpful and unique features in the app and could save you hours and hours of your time each week.
Another unique and helpful feature that this app has is called Voice Boost. Voice Boost is a feature that normalizes the audio of the app and makes it much simpler and easier to listen to in loud situations. For example, if you are in a loud situation (such as on a train) or a quiet one (such as in the library), this app will use dynamic compression equalization to compensate and make sure that the volume of the podcast is consistent, no matter the situation. The app can also make the conversation easier to follow if one person on the podcast is loud and the other is quiet, which is a big help.
In addition to these unique features that the app offers, it is also full of the standard features you would have come to expect out of a podcasting app. You can download podcasts to listen to offline, can create a playlist of podcasts, can receive push notifications when new podcasts arrive and more. This feature list (while not extremely extensive) should be more than enough for the average user, and even power users will enjoy this app. You can also stream your podcasts directly from the app, so you don’t have to worry about downloading the podcasts first unless you want to listen to them offline.
So while the features of this app are enough to warrant a download, the design of this app is also top notch. The color scheme of the app is light enough to not distract you but has enough color to not be boring or bland. Navigating around the app is incredibly easy and you never get “lost” in the app and always know where to go to do what you want. The listening experience on this app is incredible, and that is partly because that the design of the app is so unobtrusive. Too many apps try to do too much with the design that it ends up taking away from the experience. Thankfully, this app doesn’t have that problem at all.
Perhaps best of all, however, is the fact that the app is free. That’s right, the app that many people and publications feel is the best podcasting app available can be downloaded and used without paying a dime. However, because of this fact, the app is supported by apps. But if you really can’t stand the ads (which really aren’t too bad anyways), there is the option to purchased Overcast Premium for around a dollar a month, which will remove the ads completely, as well as support the creators of the app. Whichever account you choose to have, it doesn’t change the fact that this app deserves this top spot as the best podcasting app for the iPhone.
All things considered, this app has a lot to offer you and should be considered by everyone. Its simple design, easy-to-use interface, helpful features and more make it the best podcasting app out there for the iPhone. Also, because it is completely free, you might as well give it a shot. If you don’t enjoy it, or want something else out of your podcasting app, you can easily delete the app without ever paying a cent.
The runner-up in this battle for the best podcasting app is none other than Stitcher Radio. This app helps you listen to favorite news, sports, and comedy shows as well as a ton of great podcasts. In fact, this app gives you access to more than 65,000 different shows, so there is bound to be something you will enjoy listening to. The app also has many useful features and a simplicity that helps anyone be able to pick it up and use it with ease.
As mentioned, the app is full of great features that are a big part of why it has been named the runner-up in this article. One of the most popular features of this app is the ability to create playlists. You can easily stitch together different episodes or podcasts and listen to them uninterrupted. You are also able to download these playlists, which will let you listen to them when you are offline. The front page of this app is also a very good feature. The personalized front page on Stitcher will bring you new episodes from your favorite podcasts, suggests you new ones and even keeps you updated on the big news in the world. The front page evolves the more you use the app and learns the things you like and don’t like.
Another great feature of Stitcher is that it uses your listening habits to help you discover new and interesting shows and podcasts that you might be into. This is super helpful and thousands of people have likely found their new favorite show or podcast thanks to this feature.
The app also has a lot of other interesting features including news alerts, downloading episodes, connect social media accounts to share shows, audio alerts and more. It does just about everything you could ever want a podcasting app to do, without too many unnecessary features. The app is also available to be downloaded and used for free, which is another attractive thing about it. However, the app does run ads to compensate for that. If you aren’t a fan of the ads, there is also a premium version of the app you can purchase. In addition to getting an ad-free experience, Stitcher Premium gets you bonus episodes, exclusive albums and also Stitcher originals.
While the design of the app is not as good or interesting as Overcast, it still does it’s job. The design is simple enough and the navigation is easy. An app like this doesn’t need a great or intricate design, because it will often be running in the background while you are listening to radio shows or podcasts. As a result, the content and features of podcasting apps are more important, and that is where this app shines. All in all, this app is a great option for your podcasting app and it helps to bridge the gap between radio and podcasting.
Pocket Casts will likely be the choice of many people as their best podcast app. You would be hard pressed to find an app with more powerful features, without the app being overwhelming to use. The database of podcasts that this app contains is extremely impressive and all your favorites will be able to be enjoyed from this app. Both the features and the design of this app are top notch. In terms of the features, the app is full of powerful features that are still incredibly simple to use and understand. These include things like trimming silence in the podcasts (similar to what Overcast does), changing play speed, volume boosting, notifications, and much more.
As mentioned, the design is also great and simple. You can choose between different themes, and the colors of the app will often change to complement the artwork of the podcast you are listening to. the interface is also very simple and clear, which helps for a great experience for the user. Pocket Casts has also gone free to use, so while you may not get every feature, you can use the app completely free. Even better: the Apple Watch version of the app now allows you to save podcasts right to your watch, so you don’t have to switch back to your phone on a walk.
Spotify is likely the most popular app out there for streaming and enjoying music. It has millions and million of users, but something you likely didn’t know about the app was that it is also great for podcasting. Whether you are on your phone, iPad or computer, Spotify will be able to play your favorite podcast with ease. There’s also a number of Spotify-exclusive shows that make it a must-have app for podcast lovers of all kinds.
The features on this app are quite simple and barebones, but it works. You have your standard playlist and download options, but not too much in terms of special or exclusive features. The app’s design is incredible, however. The color scheme is great, it is easy to navigate and search and you never feel lost or overwhelmed in the app.
The app is available for free, but with ads. However, Spotify does one of the best jobs ever at making ads that are short and very unintrusive. However, if they still bother you, you can download Spotify Premium, which will cost you around $10 a month. This gets you offline listening, better audio and of course, an ad-free experience. If there’s one issue with Spotify, it might be its lack of unique RSS features. If you subscribe to a private RSS feed through Patreon, for example, you won’t be able to listen to that feed.
While some of the apps on this list have been part music and part podcast, this one is all about your favorite podcasts. Whatever podcasts you enjoy listening to, this app will likely have them. The app will also make suggestions based on your history, so you will never run out of great things to listen to. You can easily stream or download different podcasts and episodes, even if you are offline. The app also includes many different and helpful features such as playlist customization, a history feature, speed adjustments, timer, a sleep function and more. The app is free to download and is one of the best options for your primary podcasting app.
The app also includes a handy automatic download feature which will make sure everything on the app is up to date every time you fire it up. The app is free to download and is one of the best options for your primary podcasting app.
This one has been offered in the App Store since way back in 2010 and is still one of the best options for your podcasting app. The app also pioneered many of the cool features that seem to be standard in this industry today. RSSRadio has many different features that include numerous different audio customization options, silence remover, iCloud sync, sleep time, different interface themes and much much more. The app also allows you to organize your various different podcasts by category, so you always know where to go to listen to a certain one.
The app is also designed in a way that is good for your battery life and won’t suck your phone dry. One of the problems with many podcasting apps is that they drain batteries fast, so it is a nice touch that this one does not do that.
Spreaker helps to make your podcast listening personalized. The app features thousands of different podcasts and live broadcasts and there is a very good chance that your favorite is included in this app. In addition to being able to select your own things to listen to, you can also choose to listen to one of many curated lists spanning a wide range of topics. The app includes notifications, automatic downloads and other great features that help the listening experience be more customized, You can even chat in real-time with other listeners. There are dozens of helpful features on this app and this makes it among the most fully-featured apps on this entire list.
Despite all these great features and the access to so much content, this app doesn’t charge a fee to download or use the app. While the app might not be as well known as some of the others on this list, it is definitely worth your attention.
You might not want to use Apple’s default podcast app, but what about…Google’s? Yes, Google finally launched their own dedicated podcast app back in 2018 on Android and the web, with the Apple version finally rolling out to users in March of this year. It’s tough to say whether or not this app is actually better than Apple’s own, but it’s certainly a great offering for anyone switching from Android to iPhone this year. It’s also a particularly impressive app if your home is loaded with Google Home speakers, since it can easily cast around the house.
If we have one major complaint with the app, it comes down to some strange UI choices, including the player being moved to a single pop-up display rather than making it into its own page. Likewise, the app removed the ability to add your own custom RSS feed, which doesn’t just limit you from being able to add Patreon-exclusive feeds—it also locks you into the app without any choice. Bummer.
With one of the cleanest interfaces on iOS today, Castro is a must-look for any podcast fan. The app is built around a centralized queue of podcast episodes, all waiting to be listened to by your stream. You can quickly add any episodes from your saved shows to your queue, to get them ready to listen to, and dragging and dropping your episodes to re-order everything is super simple. Once you’re ready to listen to, just press play to start your queue, and your episodes will automatically play in your saved listing. Pause when you need to take a break and your queue will stay where you left it, and when you’re ready to start up, you can do so—with all your episodes downloaded while on WiFi.
We really liked the design of Castro, even if it doesn’t quite crack our favorite app Overcast. Still, with an excellent player UI and most of the features we look for in core podcast apps, this is a must-have podcast app—especially if everything else on this list doesn’t grab your attention. It’s a free download on the App Store, so grab it today and try it out.