With so many podcasts out there, how can anyone manage them all? Fortunately, there are a number of great iOS apps out there to help in that department.
I want to break down some of the best podcast apps available on iOS. To be honest, the podcast game still asks to be reinvented, so while the apps listed are all good in themselves, there is no single standout platform. However, each recommended app has its own unique style and set of features. Let’s get started.
For many years, Apple iTunes was the reigning king of podcast platforms. But despite being a leader in the industry, Apple stopped innovating in the podcast area as it focused more on music, movies, mobile apps and other digital media.
Apple made some attempts to re-center podcasts when it cut podcasting out of iTunes and launched Apple Podcasts in 2012. Did Apple reinvent the wheel when it did? No, but giving the media its own dedicated app was certainly an important step. Whether an Apple customer is a podcast fan or not, all Apple devices come with the built-in Podcasts app.
Apple Podcasts are still the de facto directory that most podcasts aim to be listed in. Apple Podcasts’ top shows and episode rankings are also the most common way podcasts measure the popularity of specific programs. Getting on the platform’s “New and Noteworthy” section, a human-curated list of upcoming podcasts put together by Apple, is considered a great achievement.
Earlier this year, that Apple had hit a million podcasts in the library. These are not individual episodes. We’re talking about a full show. On top of that, many of the apps on this list gather Apple’s podcast directory to power their podcast search features. So if you are looking for a show, it will definitely be listed in Apple Podcasts.
At its core, Apple Podcasts is just a list of podcast feeds (though it has plenty of them), a fairly simple library for syncing the shows you subscribe to, and a barebones podcast player. It’s basic, but the job is done.
The most popular third-party podcast app is probably Cloudy. It is different from the other apps on this list, as the focus is more on the audio player than any kind of show discoverability options. And honestly, that’s where it excels.
The app is devoid of content when you download it for the first time. It really requires that you know what shows you want to listen to. Once you’ve filled up your library, you’ll probably have the best iOS podcast player.
Cloudy has a number of listening features you won’t find anywhere else like “Smart Speed.” Basically, this feature provides faster podcasts when there is silence or long pauses to maximize your podcast listening time without changing the actual content. Overcast also has a “Voice Boost” feature that gives the podcast volume a boost if you are listening in a particularly noisy atmosphere.
Cloudy is available for free download or $ 10 a year subscription to remove ads.
If ever there was a platform to threaten Apple’s perch on the podcast throne, it’s Spotify. Interestingly, as Apple seems to separate podcasts from its music offerings, Spotify wants to take over the podcasting world by bringing podcasts to its popular music streaming app. Not long after Apple, Spotify announced that they had reached one million podcasts on the platform – an impressive feat when you consider iTunes’ lead.
However, Spotify wants to go much further. It is deepening in the growing podcast industry. Last year, the company podcast creation platform, Anchor and Gimlet Media, the production company behind popular podcasts such as Answer all and Crimetown. The company also signs agreements to bring exclusive podcasts to the platform. For example, the most popular podcast in the United States, The Joe Rogan Experience, is now on Spotify.
Spotify is really trying to provide a premium experience to go along with the premium music subscription service, which costs $ 9.99 a month.
Unlike most other podcast platforms, a podcast listener can not just add power to their favorite podcast in the app. The podcast owner must apply directly to Spotify to be added to the platform. Of course, this can be positive for some users who are looking for more than just what is featured in all other podcasting apps.
Breaker is trying to bring aspects of social media to podcasting. It’s not just a podcast player. It’s not just a podcast directory. That’s all there is to it with a complete podcast-oriented social network built-in.
Users sign up for a profile just like they do on any other social media site and start subscribing to their favorite podcasts. Again, unlike other podcast platforms, these subscriptions are not just for your own listening pleasure – they are public on your profile, like Facebook Likes or YouTube channel subscriptions.
Spotify has a feature where users can watch their friend’s music activity feed, but not which podcasts they are listening to. So Breaker really stands out in that regard. Users can also comment on shows and episodes and share their recent listening history.
Breaker users can also follow other podcast listeners on the platform to keep track of what they are eating and find new shows to listen to. The app also uses your subscriptions to recommend other similar and popular podcasts.
A podcast social network may not sound revolutionary, but it’s frankly the most refreshing take on a podcasting platform I’ve seen yet.
Breaker is free to download, but offers a $ 5 monthly subscription to remove in-app ads. Breaker also lets podcast owners charge for premium episodes in the app.
It may have an extremely general name, but the Podcast app may very well have the finest user interface and most interesting discovery platform of all the apps on this list.
Although free to download, it unfortunately limits some very basic features – such as full listening history and the ability to add podcasts via RSS feed – to its premium subscription of $ 24.99 per year, without a monthly subscription option.
However, there is one particular free feature I use with other podcast options. When I opened the app, I was immediately greeted by a recommendation that organized shows by episode length. Do you only have 20 minutes? The podcast app will recommend you to watch episodes that you can listen to in 20 minutes or less. It’s a great way to discover new shows that may suit certain commutes or downtime during the day.
Alas, in my opinion, we are still waiting for the perfect platform, a total podcasting package. However, these iOS apps each offer some of the perfection we hope one day can see on a single platform.