While we have featured a few podcasting apps before, this time we will be focusing on Pocket Casts, which has become my go-to app for listening and catching up with podcasts on Android. The reason why it deserves a feature and why it’s worthy of attention is because it just does everything right. And it keeps getting better and better, with a new big update looming in the horizon. The interface is awesome for both phone and tablet, it has a ton of features, it has options for automating and syncing and is just overall a great app with a lot of care and dedication put onto it. But don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look!
When you open the app, chances are, you don’t have anything set up for you. That’s okay, though. If you already use a podcasting app on your phone, you can just export your data from that app and manually import it into Pocket Casts, which will then populate your list with your previously subscribed to podcasts. To do this, export the file from your current app (this varies from app to app) and make sure it’s a OPML file. Then, use a file explorer (like ES File Explorer, for example) and copy that file to the “opml_import” folder inside the “PocketCasts” directory. Then, open Pocket Casts, go to the Settings by sliding the menu from left to right, and then press the cog icon at the bottom. From there, Tap “Import & Export” and then tap the first option. The app should let you know when it’s done.
Anyway, even if you don’t want to import you previous data and just fool around, there’s a lot of stuff to discover here even without a set list. For example, you can probably find your old favorites by going into the “Discover” section and searching from there.
If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for something new, the various sections and categories should make it easier for you to find something you’d like, and there’s a lot of variety. Subscribing to a new podcast is as easy as tapping its logo and then tapping the “Subscribe” button near the top. Notice how Pocket Casts automatically fetches information about the content, and lists all current and archived episodes in order.
Not only that, tapping any of the episodes automatically fetches the description for that particular episode with working hyperlinks, along with individual options to immediately download it or stream a sample so you can get a taste and see if you enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, subscribe and it will be added to your podcast list, so you can keep track of it in the future.
The “Podcasts” category, of course, lists all you currently subscribed podcasts. A little numbered icon will also appear in each of the podcast’s logo, letting you know of how many episodes you missed or what’s new. Choosing a podcast from here shares almost the same interface as the Discover section, along with a play icon that lets you know if it’s been downloaded or how much it was played when you listened to it. Of course, tapping an episode gives you options, straight away, to download that individual episode for offline listening or to stream the whole thing right away. If you choose to listen to it, Pocket Casts also adds a few goodies to ease you listening experience. One of them is the fact that it will show you controls for play/pause and skipping forward or rewinding in your notification bar, even outside the app.
Tapping the notification brings you back to the “Now Playing” interface of the app, where you can seek individual sections through the seekbar, choose the playback speed, share the episode, setup a sleep timer (really cool if you like listening to stuff as you fall asleep), star the episode, mark it as played, and so on.
Pocket Casts, of course, also support video podcasts. They work fundamentally the same, although the Now Playing interface is slightly different, with floating controls to get out of the way of the video and, of course, it won’t continue playing if you exit the app:
The app also comes with built-in syncing support, allowing you to sync preferences and a constantly updated list of your podcasts and episodes to the cloud. Creating an account is free with the app purchase, and works across all your devices.
Another cool function of the app is that it allows you to setup “Smart Playlists”, which lets you specify a bunch of variables (like, episodes not fully played, only starred podcasts, podcasts that have been downloaded, etc.) and creates a playlist for you according to your preferences.
Aside from all the main stuff, the app really has a somewhat comprehensive set of options buried in the settings, including theme support, customizable forward/backward timing, Bluetooth metadata support, notifications for new episodes, storage options for downloaded files, and so on. It’s very easy to setup to your preferences, and almost every aspect has some sort of alternative option or control that makes it shine. Definitely worth checking out if you’re OCD about your podcasts like me.
And that’s about it for Pocket Casts. As you can probably tell from me singing its praises, I think it’s pretty good, and for now, nothing else compares. The one thing that I don’t like about it is that it’s a flat-out buy app, no option to try before, a trial or anything like that, and it’s not exactly a cheap app, either. You can, of course, buy it and then get a refund if you don’t like it (remember, the Play Store guarantees an automatic 15 minute refund window), but still, that kind of sucks, especially if you’re worried about performance or another particular aspect about your device that won’t be immediately apparent. Still, it’s well worth it, and with a purchase you won’t have to worry about setting up or managing your podcasts ever again, not to mention guaranteed syncing with all your devices. So it’s up to you if it’s worth it! Pocket Casts can be found in the Play Store for $3.99.