When you’re on the go, listening to podcasts on your smartphone or tablet can be a great way to make use of your time.
There are podcasts on just about every topic under the sun, from sports and news to pop culture to astrophysics – and it can seem like there just as many apps to choose from to play your podcasts on.
A podcast player app, sometimes also known as a podcatcher, will make your life easier by allowing you to create playlists, find your favorite shows and automatically download new episodes, among other extra features.
Google and Apple both have their own podcast apps but they tend to be pretty basic and don’t offer a ton of pro functionality.
Most avid listeners will want to add a more powerful podcast player to their app toolkit.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
Overcast is one of the most popular podcast apps on the iTunes App Store with 20,000 ratings averaging 4.7-stars.
The free version is ad-supported. However, unlike many apps which might serve up irrelevant, obnoxious ads, the ones displayed in Overcast are actually for other podcasts. Of course, you can pay to remove the ads for a year. The cost is reasonable in our opinion.
The app offers a range of advanced features, including smart speed which will skip any periods of silence, and voice boost which helps to equalize poor audio levels.
It can also sync with Twitter to recommend podcasts that you might like. Finally support for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch covers the most popular Apple tech out there to make listening easy.
Podcast Addict is one of the most flexible podcast apps on the Google Play Store. With a 4.7-star rating and nearly 500,000 reviews, it's also one of the most popular.
What makes this app stand out from other podcast apps is the ability to bring in playlists from a range of other platforms, such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and Twitch, to allow you to enjoy all of your favorite media in a single app. There is even audiobook support.
The app is also compatible with Chromecast, Android Wear, Android Auto, and SONOS speakers to allow to you beam audio from your phone to a huge range of accessories. Other features include volume boosting, silence skipping, variable playback speed, downloading for offline listening, and a sleep timer for when you want to fall asleep to your favorite podcast.
Available for iOS, Android, and through a web player, Pocket Casts features a beautiful, clean interface that highlights the artwork of the podcast being played – the clever design even matches the color of controls on the playback screen to the art.
Like other apps, it includes great features like auto-download, sync options, push notifications, smart playlists, and a sleep timer. It will also sync across platforms to allow you to seamlessly pick up where you left off across devices -- perfect for those looking to listen at a computer at work and on their phone during the commute.
With the paid Pocket Casts Plus subscription you can get 10GB of cloud storage to upload your own audio files to listen to from anywhere within the app. However, the Plus subscription is affordably priced -- especially when you pay for a year upfront.
The navigation is simple and intuitive, however, power users looking for ultra-customizable options may not find everything here. If you're impressed by sweet design details and handy shortcuts, you will be a fan of this app.
Stitcher takes a different approach to podcasts than other apps on this list. That likely means you’ll either love it or hate it.
You create virtual stations or categories and fill them with your favorite podcasts. You can also add RSS feeds from other news sources with audio and video.
Once you’re done, hit play and it will weave your podcasts together to recreate the classic AM talk radio experience. You can even set it to create breaks for the latest news or other information between show episodes.
It supports most major podcast features, including playback speed adjustment and offline playback, as well as full support for both Chromecast and Android Auto.
You can remove ads and unlock access to a catalog of Stitcher exclusives for a small monthly fee.
If you’re looking for an easy way to enjoy podcasts without having to constantly queue the next episode, Stitcher
Radio is an interesting take on the concept.
There's a good chance you've already heard of -- and probably even used -- Spotify. It's one of the best apps for streaming music.
But it also streams a massive selection of podcasts!
It doesn't offer some of the more advanced features you'll find in other podcast apps, but you get enough to make listening easy. You can skip forward and back, speed up or slow down audio, and searching for episodes using the same interface used for music.
Better still, it keeps your music and podcasts separate so you don't have to worry about getting things all mixed up.
The only downside to using Spotify for podcasts is the ads. Not only will you deal with the usual podcast sponsorship bits, but you'll also get audio ads from Spotify throughout your episodes.
If you already have Spotify Premium, you won't need to worry about this. But unless you're looking for easy access to a treasure trove of music, we're not sure signing up for Premium is worth the price just for podcast listening.
It's hard to pick a single app which is obviously better than the others. It will depend on the devices you use and what features you need.
Fortunately, every podcast app in this roundup offers a free tier of service -- and in most cases it will meet the needs of the average user if you don't mind a few ads or don't need to download files to your phone or tablet.
So don't hesitate to try a few out and find one that is perfect for you.
If you're unsure where to start, we recommend Pocket Casts. It's available on both Android and iOS and if you want to listen on your computer as well, unlocking the feature is affordable and simple.
P.S. Looking to take your love of podcasts to the next level and start your own? Turns out you can do that with your phone as well. Our roundup of the best voice recording apps offers options which make it easy to sit down and record notes or even entire episodes without the need for a ton of audio equipment or technical knowledge.
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