Podcasts have gained prominence in the past couple of years. Simply put, a podcast is a series of spoken audio episodes that often focus on a particular topic or theme. Think of them as radio station programs that you can download and listen to at any time of your choosing.
Podcasts cover a wide range of areas and topics, such as technology, fashion, tv show/movie reviews, stories, self help, productivity, book reviews… basically, any interesting topic out there probably has a podcast for it.
You can listen to podcasts directly from the podcast website, if it has one, or by subscribing to one via an app on your phone or tablet. Some of the most popular podcast apps are Pocket Casts, Overcast, Castro, Anchor, Stitcher, CastBox and Downcast. This article covers Pocket Casts.
Pocket Casts is available for iOS, Android, macOS, Windows and the web. It’s free to download on iOS and Android. The web player requires a subscription to use, as do additional features in the mobile apps. You can downloaded it from the official website.
The app has a modern design that fits in well on all platforms. Once installed you’ll see four tabs at the bottom: Podcasts, Filters, Discover, and Profile.
This tab shows all your subscribed podcasts. These can:
- Be sorted by name, date added and release date.
- Be arranged in a grid of 3/4 or list.
- Have their badges turned on/off.
- Be shared as lists.
Tapping on a podcast icon opens the podcast page with info on what the podcast is about, the downloaded episodes, when the episodes aired, and settings for changing when the podcast is downloaded, whether to get notifications and whether to skip intro and outro music like the power user that you are.
Think of filters as playlists that collect your podcasts depending on conditions that you’ve set. These conditions cover:
- All podcasts
- Unplayed, In progress and/or played podcasts
- Podcasts release date
- Podcast download status
- Media type, either audio or video
- Podcast episode star status
This tab contains the podcast directory, where podcasts can be searched and subscribed to. It’s organised into:
- Category browser
Subscribing to a podcast adds it to the Podcast tab. Episodes can also be searched for, and downloaded, without subscribing.
This view displays your user account, listening statistics and history, downloaded files and copied files as well as starred podcast episode. There’s a section at the top showcasing the number of podcasts you’ve subscribed to and how much time you’ve spent listening to them.
The account section has details of the currently logged in account with the option of upgrading to Pocket Casts Plus. The Plus subscription plan provides a web player, additional app icons, extra themes and 10 GB of cloud Storage for custom files at $0.99 per month.
You can use Pocket Casts to listen to custom audio files such as audiobooks. You add these files by sharing them to the app from your devices files app. Subscribers to Pocket Casts Plus can upload the episodes to the cloud and access them on the go.
The files are supported by the audio effects just as well as normal podcasts episodes. I use this feature a lot as it enables me to listen to audiobooks via Pocket Casts.
Pocket Casts offers a wide variety of settings you can change to customise the app. These include:
- General: Customising row actions, podcast episode grouping and skipping duration.
- Notifications: Notification settings.
- Appearance: You get both light and dark themes as well as custom themes for premium users.
- Storage and Data Use: This shows how much space the downloaded podcasts have taken on the device. You can also decide whether to use mobile data to download episodes.
- Auto Archiving and Auto Downloading options.
- Files settings.
- Import and Export subscribed podcasts.
- Help, Feedback and About the app.
Now Playing Screen
The now playing screen has everything you might need when playing your podcast episodes. The podcast artwork is displayed front and centre with the play, rewind and forward buttons below it. The duration of the rewind and forward buttons can be customised from the Settings screen.
Tabs are available at the top for switching from Now Playing to Show Notes to Chapters if the podcast episode has them. Audiobooks displays chapters instead of notes.
The queue button is at the top right corner, and it can also be accessed with a swipe up gesture. Episodes can be rearranged and removed from the queue with easy gestures.
Between the artwork and playback buttons is the currently playing chapter, provided the podcast supports chapters. Below the buttons there a customisable toolbar with the following options:
- Playback effects. These are speed, trim silence and volume boost.
- Episode starring.
- Marking the episode as done/deleting custom episodes.
- Going to the podcast page.
- Share episode button.
- Changing the output device.
- Archiving/deleting the podcast episode.
- Sleep timer.
- Chromecast button.
Only 4 options are displayed on screen, with the last ones delegated to the overflow menu button.
Pocket Casts has a few audio effects that make listening to podcasts even better. There are 3 playback effects that enhance your listening experience:
- Speed Adjustment. You can adjust the playback speed of podcasts, from 0.5x to 3.0x.
- Trim Silence. Does what it says on the box. An added plus is a counter of how much time you’ve saved on trimming silences in episodes.
- Volume Boost. This increases the sound of the podcast voices.
Pocket Casts offers some additional features that make it a great podcast app. These are:
- Auto deletion of listened episodes and audio files. You don’t have to manually delete podcasts after listening to them.
- Auto downloading of podcasts. You can also specify whether to download via a data connection or not.
- Custom skip durations. You can set a podcast to start after a number of seconds. This allows you to skip introductions if you don’t like listening to them.
- Listening history. You can go back in time and see a list of all the podcast episode you’ve listened to.
- Playing podcasts without subscribing. This allows you to listen to a podcast first before deciding whether or not to subscribe to it.
- Episode search. You can search for specific episodes inside a podcast.
- Import and export of podcasts. This allows you to switch podcasts apps at will.
- Epic change logs. Go to the about page and waste hours of your life reading their engaging change logs. It’s time well spent 🤓
- Cross platform support. Pocket Casts is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, macOS and Windows. You can use it anywhere you want as long as it’s in the above devices.
Pocket Casts is a great podcast app. It looks good, is packed with features, and is available on multiple platforms. And to top it all off, it’s completely free! I got the app in 2016 and have been using it consistently ever since. It’s the most used app on my phone, and one of the first apps I download when I get a new phone. Go try it out, and see whether it’ll change how you listen to podcasts.