Podcasts

Google Listen is officially dead. It was fun while it lasted, but the app's demise hardly signals an end to podcast listening on Android. See, much like the Nexus line of phones and tablets, Google Listen appears to have existed as an example to developers of what to do and encourage them to build upon it. The community responded positively and now Android has a plethora of podcast apps. Some are good, some not so good, but the bottom line is that developers are being aggressive in the podcast space, and that’s a good thing.

Here we present five podcast apps that we like in case you’re wandering around after being a loyal Google Listen user. Admittedly, there are many more podcast apps on Android, many probably very good, but these are five that we like in particular. Let’s get started, shall we?

And don’t forget to check out the Android Central podcast, which can be found on all of these.

Pocket Casts ($2.99)

Pocket Casts

Google PlayPocket Casts is the most visually appealing podcast app in my opinion. When you add subscriptions, they will show up in a nicely refined manner that displays only the icon of the podcast. When you're actually playing a podcast, it will display a large icon, which can be seen from the picture above. When you’re in the app, you will always see the 5 bottom menu items. The first brings you back to the tiled display of all of your subscriptions, the second is a shortcut back to the podcast currently playing, the third refreshes the list and displays the most recent episodes available, the fourth is a search option, which is where you can add new shows and the fifth is the settings button. There are a variety of settings that you can tweak, such as specifying where the podcasts are stored, deleting shows when finished, notifications, exporting and when the app checks for new episodes. Pocket Casts remains one of the best options for podcast management. While it does not have all of the customizable tweaks that Doggcatcher and BeyondPod have, it looks the best in my opinion. 

PodKast (free)

PodKast

Google PlayAll of the other podcast apps that I highlight cost money, and while they are worth it, in my opinion, many people are often looking for the most cost-effective option. Podkast provides that as it is free. It is not as visually appealing as a couple of the others, but it gets the job done. When you open up the app, you’ll see six tabs up top: Channels, Latest, Favorites, Search, Top and Downloads. With Channels, you’ll see everything that you’ve subscribed to and a bunch that are preset, which can be sorted by video and audio as well. Latest will show you the most recent episodes from your Channels list, Favorites displays the subscriptions that you’ve designated as so (handy for organization, because there are a lot of channels). Search allows you to find the podcasts when you know the name, Top will display some of the highest-rated and most widely read subscriptions and Downloads displays the episodes which you’ve downloaded to your device. Settings include the ability to change the cache timeout for episodes and channels, displaying text below the icons and whether or not video podcasts play in full screen by default. [Play Store]

BeyondPod (free, $6.99 pro version)

BeyondPod

Google PlayBeyondPod is another app that costs $6.99 (pro version). There is also a free version, which I urge you to try first, but the pro version is worth every penny. It should be noted that the Lite version comes with a 7-day full feature free trial, so you can try everything for a week to see if it's worth it. I’ve used all of them at different times and this is the one I’ve been using recently and I don’t think I’ll be switching anytime soon. While it does not have as pretty of a UI as Pocket Casts, it functions very well and has a ton of customizable options. The main screen of BeyondPod displays all of your feeds, split up into categories. Preset categories include News, Sports, Entertainment, Science and Technology, Business and Finance, All Feeds and Uncategorized. You also have the option of creating your own category. When adding a new feed to your list, it will ask you which category to put it under. In the top left, you’ll be able to narrow your selection by feed category in a drop down menu. Next to the drop down is an option to select episodes, which will display the most recent shows from your subscriptions. I should say that throughout the app, there is an option in the bottom left corner to display All Episodes (which will include those not downloaded) , Unread Only, My Episodes and Downloaded. The Downloaded option comes in handy when the podcast has a lot of episodes and you’re in the midst of playing catch up. In the settings menu, there are six options to choose from: General Settings, Player Settings, Playlist and Widget Settings, Feed Content Settings, Feed Update Settings and Feed Defaults. In addition, there is also a Backup and Restore option. Within all of these categories, there are numerous tweaks and adjustable options available to you. Along with Doggcatcher, BeyondPod is for all of you out there who like to mold your apps to your every whim. [Play Store full version Unlock Key]

Podkicker (free, $2.99 pro version)

Podkicker

Google PlayPodkicker is another great option if you’re just looking for a simple podcast manager without having to worry about a ton of customizations. With the app, you’ll have a bottom bar, which gives you Channels, New, Player and Downloads. Channels displays everything that you’ve subscribed to, New displays the most recent episodes, Player is what is currently playing and Downloads show you the episodes which have been put on your device rather than streamed. There is a free version and a pro version for $2.99. Highly encourage you to try the free version then decide if you would like to upgrade. The advantages of the pro version are: no ads, automatic downloads, custom download folder, notifications, swipe navigation, a refreshed UI and more. [Play Store pro version]

Doggcatcher ($6.99)

Doggcatcher

Google PlayDoggcatcher has been around for a long time and has been one of the favorites amongst users. The app has five tabs up top that can be accessed by simply pressing them or swiping across. These tabs are: Feeds, Playing, Audio, Video and News. Feeds is an aggregate listing of every subscription that you have, Playing displays whatever episode you are listening to at the moment, Audio filters only the audio feeds, Video is likewise for video and News is for your non-audio and video subscriptions. One of the advantages of using Doggcatcher over some of the other apps is the amount of customization and options that are available to you. In the Preferences menu, you can change feed update frequency, adjust preferences for feeds as a whole such as auto downloads and auto deletion, connecting an external headset, UI tweaks, audio and video player options, adjusting the widget, and even more advanced options such as easy workarounds for known issues with custom ROMs. 

The bottom line ...

I’m a huge fan of podcasts, I listen to them every day. I’ve also used all of these apps for a while at different times, including Google Listen. So here are my recommendations:

  • What I’m currently using: BeyondPod
  • For power users: BeyondPod or Doggcatcher
  • Most beautiful: Pocket Casts
  • Most cost-effective: PodKast or Podkicker
  • Simplest: Pocket Casts

Remember, podcast apps, like many others, are very personal. Some may really be drawn to one while others prefer another and that's the beauty of having so many options. Make sure the app is right for you and that you get what you want from it, because it all boils down to enjoying the content. Speaking of content, don't forget to check out the Android Central podcast on your shiny new app of choice! We'd also love to hear from you if you have other recommendations, so don't be shy to sing out in the comments!

 
There are 59 comments

Kingzoidberg says:

Do any of these have adjustable playback speed? I went from Listen to Doggcatcher for just that reason, but Dogg has been flaky lately (crashing a lot and rebooting randomly on my stock GNex). I can't stand listening to podcasts at 1x speed (I'd never get through all the shows I listen to). I'm dealing with Dogg because of my need for speed, but I'd be willing to switch, and I'm too lazy and apathetic to look into it myself.

gariig says:

You need to buy Presto Sound Library for variable playback speed. It works in BeyondPod, Doggcatcher, and Pocket Casts.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aocate.presto&hl=en

icebike says:

Pocket Cast will, but you need to buy Presto which is pretty darned expensive if you ask me. They want 5 bucks for an add on app that has Beta in its name.

phrozen087 says:

I partially agree. Presto is by no means cheap, but I went ahead and bought it earlier this year. I have gotten so addicted to listening to stuff fast that 1.5x playback speed is the lowest I can stand to listen to anymore. If you listen to a lot of podcasts and/or audiobooks, then the price is almost trivial. While I wasn't fully convinced in the beginning, the time-savings of up to 50% time reduction (at the 2x speed) is a life saver and I would be willing to pay double the asking price if I had to now!

My preferred combination is BeyondPod Pro + Presto.

GrillMouster says:

My time is worth money. The time savings I've experienced thanks to Presto have paid for the app a million times over.

I started using DoggCatcher a few years ago, but earlier this year switched to Beyondpod Pro when it went on sale. I really liked its sync with Google Reader, which made it a breeze to keep my audio podcasts, video podcasts, and RSS feeds synced up between my phone, tablet, and computers.

What ultimately made me leave Beyondpod and return to DoggCatcher is that BP was horribly unreliable with variable speed enabled. I only get occasional hiccups on DC. With DC, the worse that happens is that a podcast fails to start and I get a notification. All I do is press play again, and it starts with no problem. Again, this problem rarely occurs. On the other hand, with BP, I get errors every time I have variable speed enabled, and audio continues playing, sometimes multiple streams, and I have to reboot or manually force close both BP and Presto.

There were other problems that I had with BP, especially its interface. It wasn't intuitive and many screens didn't have the player control buttons, which I thought was odd for a media player app. I plan to try it again in the future to see if it's improved, because DoggCatcher still hasn't implemented its long-promised cross-device sync feature.

Germian says:

You have to buy an additional app on the Play Store to use adjustable playback speed. It's called "Presto Sound Library Open Beta" and it's 3,99 Euro (I guess about $4,75?). At least in Pocket Casts there is a link to it in the preferences. The Presto's app description says that it works with Akimbo, BeyondPod, DoggCatcher, PodTrapper and Pocket Casts.

But I have no idea how good it actually works, I don't use it.

EDIT: Aww, too late.

I know Pocket cast has it.

Tobithy says:

Variable speed is the main thing I am looking for. I'm using ACast right now (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mathias.android.acast&...), which is free and has variable speed as part of the "Experimental player" in the Advanced options menu, but playing at fast speeds sometimes results in a lot of audio dropouts, distortions, and clicks (perhaps due to my sometimes slow phone?). I can't believe that a second paid app (Presto) is required for all these other options.

It looks like the recent version of Pocket Casts as built in variable speed. That might be something to try, but I haven't checked it out yet.

After listening to the spoken word at fast speed, it becomes painful to listen at normal speed. Except comedy, that should always be at the normal speed, or you lose a large portion of what makes it funny (timing is everything!)

Anthony Ally says:

Dice Player speeds up and keeps audio understandable & in good tone. Need to configure to find mp3 . Default is only mp4 due to video focus of app. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.inisoft.mediaplayer.a

rcczc says:

PODFY is by far the best Podcast app in the for Android right now. It sync play status, playlists AND can be used in any PC as a webapp!

On twitter the Pocket Casts team recently mentioned that they're going to implement some kind of cross-device syncing, which has been a long held dream of mine. Even without that, it's easily my favorite podcatcher.

biloxiboi says:

+1 - I have always wanted an app that would sync my location among all devices and even allow me the option to continue listening from the web.

E_man says:

No way. I requested that a long time ago, and their response made it seem like it was never going to happen. Not to mention how long it's been since last updated, I was getting worried they had moved on. So glad to hear this news.

icebike says:

I bought Pocket Casts on the recommendations of other posters here on AC the day Listen was put down.
Its everything I expected, and has a beautiful interface and seems much less quirky than Listen was.

For my use, anything more would be overkill, and having read the stream of complaints about dogcatcher's episodes of misbehavior over the last six months I decided Pocket Casts was the way to go. Variable speed, video, download or stream, anything more would just get in the way.

biloxiboi says:

GoodNews is often forgotten about and shouldn't be. It handles podcasts and RSS news feeds. It is tightly integrated with Google Reader. I tried (and paid for) Doggcatcher and BeyondPod, but I always revert back to GoodNews. It is more functional than beautiful, and there are a ton of settings. IMO, the only feature missing is adjustable playback speed, and I would suspect this to be added before too long. I highly recommend it.

THANK YOU! I tried BeyondPod and found the interface too cluttered and confusing. I tried GoodNews and it does what I want: sync with Google Reader and play podcasts from my feeds. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for recommending GoodNews.

sensory says:

Doggcatcher for me, looks great on N7 in tablet mode, and above all else does the job it's meant to do. I'm no power user but some of the added features are just dandy.

artnoc310 says:

Will Listen cease working or just stop being updated? I love Listen because it is TINY and simple. I'm using the original EVO and there just isn't much space for these multi-megabyte apps. Running from SD isn't ideal because it's much slower than internal memory. There's only two podcasts I listen to so Listen met my needs perfectly, albeit with an awkward interface.

Ry says:

IIRC, Listen's search functionality will stop working. It will still pull in your existing feeds though.

icebike says:

It supposedly will keep working. but the search and add feeds will stop (maybe already stopped), and I suspect the podcasts portion of Reader will be killed off soon. (And perhaps even Reader itself).

Listen was simple, and I used it all the time, but it was quirky. You had to learn how to download your podcasts, and if you were working significantly behind the current date (Lectures, non-time-specific casts), it was a pain to maintain your pointer to what was current for you.

Get a new one now, something that can import your Listen subscriptions before its totally gone.

E_man says:

Reader won't be killed anytime soon. It may be more integrated with Google Plus, but it won't go away.

As for the podcast function in reader, that also won't go away till reader itself does, due to how it actually works. It's just an RSS feed like any other, in a special folder.

wingnut89 says:

Why you use on your tablet not the tablet Version of beyondpod? There is an seperate version in the market.

Dont get it...

Pocketcast is beautiful??? It has an portet iPhone design, that is not beautiful. No holo!!!

otosnede says:

Seriously... I wish the team that did Tasks would do a podcast app... they're one of the only devs that adheres to device standards in UI

runer112 says:

I have tried some of these but after a while figured there is a much better solution.

To listen to live podcast stream: Xiia Lite.
To download and listen to podcasts: Kies Cast (This is a Samsung product and I don't know if it's available for android in general).

speculatrix says:

I found kiescast but android market won't let anything other than a samsung download it.

I installed it on a galaxy wifi, then used Astro to backup to an APK and copied to my HTCDoubleshot for sideloading, and it simply reported "X Application not installed". This was with non-market-installs enabled. Nothing else unusual.

vinny jr says:

Use Doggcatcher, never have any issues on it. It is probably my most used app right along side Tapatalk and Titanium Backup.

otosnede says:

I'm surprised no one mentioned doubleTwist... for 4.99 they have the add-on option to do all the podcast management right on your device... that's what I moved to since Listen is dead because the UI is really nice and the app is solid

Mobius360 says:

I'm with you, it's a great application in my opinion, surprised it wasn't in the review.

trivor says:

+2 for DoubleTwist (plus AirSync to get all your MP3s synced to the desktop (especially if not everything is bought @ Google Play).

robpasell says:

I bought Pocket Cast a couple weeks ago based on recommendations from this site. I pretty much immediately went back to using Stitcher.

HAAS599 says:

Doggcatcher. I love it and it's not just for "powerusers", whatever that means.

And if it is great for powerusers then you should probably use what people that consume netcasts powerfully use.

pahern says:

Thanks for the review, I've been looking for a good podcast app.

FYI, all of the Google Play buttons are broken as they start with the androidcentral URL.

My fault. They were all missing the http ...

dougxd45 says:

Is it just me or do all the Play links dump you into the forums search results page?

turdbogls says:

I was about to say the same thing. those links aren't working for me.

jsheehan223 says:

Been a faithful user of BeyondPod for years. The dev is great and he's responsive too. Also listens to ideas. My favorite part is the Google Reader integration. Not sure I get the smartphone/tablet different versions tho. Why not just merge the code so it'll look good on my phone and lapdock??

Oh well. Anyway. Use BeyondPod and you won't be disappointed.

plunder says:

Phil recommended PocketCsts quite a long time ago and I have used it ever since. I regularly follow a lot of technology, history, science, BBC humour and Economics related material. It has always worked well, is quite easy to use, and the search system makes finding new material easy. You can play pause or track skip from the lock screen which saves time.

All thanks to a small post by Phil, Ta mate.

mercado79 says:

One of the things Pocket Casts does that I'm not sure others do is cache your podcasts on their servers. So if, for example, the show only makes the latest episode or two available online and you happen to miss it that week (This American Life), you can still grab it via the app. Not sure how they can afford to do this, but it definitely works.

E_man says:

The aren't likely caching it on their servers (they would probably be sued for distributing content without a licence to), they just cache the link to it. Most of those RSS feeds remove the link from the RSS feed, but if you still have the cached link, you can still download.

taborcarn says:

Wow, yesterday I set up 2-step authentication and today I installed PocketCasts. AC, you're becoming very influential in my mobile computing habits.

FragU says:

I have been using a product that is sideloaded (only?) version of my favorite podcast system - PODTRAPPER from Versatilemonkey.com.

Not only does it automatically download audio and video podcasts, but handles audio books fantastically!

I've tried three of the others, and can't find any as useful or versatile as Podtrapper. Check on it - the developer is very approachable and the software has been through years of iterations (started on Blackberry forever ago).

bigbill25 says:

It would be nice if the Play links actually went to the Play store...

BigKenW says:

Doggcatcher is a great app. The developer is always updating the application and responds to queries. I consider it one of the few must purchase apps for Android.

NIKSTORM says:

Know who does a great job at pod catching ...... iOS !!! Just saying

SuperJonCA says:

Just saying? Kill yourself immediately

E_man says:

Really? First thing I did on my iPod was try iTunes podcasts. Second thing was download Pocket Casts. iTunes podcasting is pretty crap. Even Pocket Casts can't be as good on iOS, because it can't download in the background.

speculatrix says:

pocketables covered this too and found Hipstacast to be good

http://www.pocketables.com/2012/08/quick-app-review-hipstacast-is-a-simp...

cleblanc9307 says:

I listen to podcasts religiously and doggcatcher is my go to feeder. I love that you can subscribe to a video feed in HD and have an option to "listen to audio" of that feed where ever you left off on it, eliminating the need to subscribe to a audio + video feed of the same podcasts.

I've paid for BeyondPod, PocketCasts, and "Play, Look & Listen". In the end, Google Listen was my favorite until just recently. BeyondPod Pro won out with its Google Reader syncing. With 4 active phones, 2 active GoogleTVs and 1 Nexus 7, it's critical for me to have some sort of listened/not-listened status synced across devices so that I'm not constantly pruning 'casts on multiple devices. BeyondPod works on all my devices, and the playback speed control on all but the GoogleTV.

PLAY, LOOK, & LISTEN goes one step further than any of them in that it actually SYNCS PLAYBACK POSITION across multiple devices INCLUDING YOUR LAPTOP. Seemed a bit buggy last time I used it, but it was really cool when it worked. Required setting up an account on their web server, though. Worth checking into if syncing is your biggest concern.

SuperJonCA says:

Podkicker, ftw! It's free and awesome. I used to use podkast, but it stopped working when I upgraded to JB. Podkicker rocks

jimmiekain says:

I guess I lucked out when I got Pocket Casts free. It was the free app of the day at the amazon app store.

E_man says:

I got it then, and nearly immediatly bought it from the Play Store. Not only are you many updates behind, but amazon really did a number to Shifty Jelly (Pocket Cast devs), and I'd rather support them than Amazon.

cajunlibra says:

I use beyond pod, but I really miss drPodder for WebOS. It was very easy to use and you could listen to a playlist of your episodes with one tap.

ktw8062 says:

I've seen Stitcher (which is also radio) mentioned in several reviews as a good app for podcasts.

psyjohn says:

I have purchased both Pocket Casts and Beyond Pod. I agree that Pocket Casts is prettier but Beyond Pod has a much more functional interface for me. Also, BP lets me easily read the text descriptions of individual podcasts before listening and PC has no way (that I could find) to do that. That's an important feature for me as several of the podcasts in my list are hit or miss on the relevance of individual episodes for me to listen to.

rap1 says:

I'd like to see more comparison articles like this one. I especially liked your summary at the bottom with recommendations depending on what's most important to you.

I found new android podcast player - uPods. It is cheeper then beyond and have normal interface without 1000 stupid functions. It also works with my tablet. Im too tired form beyond crashes on my Nexus 7, i dont understant why it so expensive.

Quang Vu says:

PocketCast and BeyondPost allow speed control only for audio file. Anyone knows any podcast app with variable speed for video file?

pushdrops says:

I'm using Listen , all of my feeds remained thru now as well as ability add new feeds. I can't believe still updating feeds with Reader supposedly down by today July first !

Went to BeyondPod after syncing Feedly with Reader to prep for Reader's demise but my marked read history didn't travel over from Reader to Feedly so I have all of my Listen subscriptions but all are marked Read.

Too bad BP doesn't sync with Feedly as Reader did with Listen.

When will Listen cease to work now that Reader is going away today ? Will see but just bow Listen updated with new episodes on several feeds. Perhaps already suncribed feeds will continue to work with Listen ?