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 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.
All 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 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 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 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!