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Podcasts have been a rising trend for the last few years but what app should you use to listen to them? For many people the standard Apple podcast app would suffice but today I want to compare three different third party ios podcasts apps and look at who they are better for. They are Overcast, Pocketcasts and Castro.

Overcast

Overcast is from Marco Armett, formerly of instapaper and tumblr fame. His app, unlike the others, is free to download AND has almost all the functions of the app free to use.

The key differentiating features are

  • voice boast (which enhances a speakers voice over music and other noise)
  • Smart skip (a feature which cuts pauses, saving time but not resulting in a change of the speakers pitch)

In addition, overcast has a very clever smart playlist feature which allows you to create playlists which are limited to certain podcasts, have podcasts from either newest to oldest, oldest to newest and via podcast in either order. PLUS you can select priority podcasts which will place those podcast at the top of your list. And don’t forget the Apple Watch app which let’s you select the episode you want to listen to.

There is a subscription which unlocks the ability to remove ads (almost all the ads are podcast based so they are the best ads I’ve ever come across), unlocks file upload, and adds a dark icon.

The fact that it is free to start means you have nothing to lose and might as well try it out.

Pocketcasts

Pocketcasts is from Shifty Jelly and departs from overcast in a couple of ways. It is cross platform (there is an ios, android, and website version) and it has an upfront cost of $4.99.

There is also sync between devices so you can start listening to an episode on your phone, and then finish on your computer at work, or vice versa.

Pocketcasts also has the two features which overcast promotes as it unique aspects. These are volume boost and trim silence. You can set these up in the now playing settings and can be turned on or off for each podcast.

You can also set up smart playlists which can be limited to certain podcast, whether they are played, unplayed or unfinished, if they have been downloaded or not, and whether they are video, audio or both. You can also change the order of episodes from newest to oldest or the reverse. Unlike overcast, you can’t set a priority via different podcasts.

Pocketcasts also has an Apple Watch app which lets you control playback and select a new podcast episode. Unfortunately you can set the volume.

Castro

Castro takes a very different approach to podcast by adopting a “triage system”. When a new podcast episode is released, it gets added to your inbox. You can then add this episode to your playlist at either the top or bottom. Alternatively, you can archive it and not listen. You can have some episode automatically get added to your playlist (again at either the start or end).

This approach really encourages a continuously listening approach to podcast with episodes filling in to your playlist. It is a very different approach to listening to podcast and may or may not suit you.

Castro is also missing a couple of features of the other apps including Apple Watch support and silence trimming.

My pick

I have tried all three podcast apps and found good aspects of each podcasting app. In generally, these aspects favour a different approach to listening to podcasts. If you prefer to listen on your computer and phone, then it’s Pocketcasts. If you like to use lots of different playlists, then it’s overcast. If you like the inbox idea, then try Castro.

For me, I’ve settled on Overcast for 90% of podcasts as the smart skip feature is really great and I appreciate the Apple Watch app. However, I still use Pocketcasts for the couple of podcasts I listen to with my wife at home.

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