While Apple offers their own podcast app for iOS, there’s no official Google application for podcasts on Android. Google Listen, a podcast app once developed by Google Labs, languished without updates for years and has now vanished from Google Play. The good news is there are plenty of high-quality third-party podcast apps waiting to fill the gap.
Google ought to add podcast support to Google Play Music, but there’s no indication that they will. For now, Google Play is full of podcast apps. There’s no one-size-fits-all choice – many of the free apps are feature-poor or have very rough interfaces, while the best apps with the most features and slickest interfaces cost a few bucks.
BeyondPod is a very high-quality podcasting app. At $7, it’s a bit pricy – but when you try out some of the free podcasting apps on Google Play, you’ll see that BeyondPod’s features and interface help justify its comparatively high price tag. BeyondPod is absolutely packed with features, including fine-grained control of data usage and downloading settings, automatic podcast downloads, Bluetooth headset support, playback controls, support for both audio and video podcasts, and synchronization with Google Reader. BeyondPod even offers a tablet version.
In spite of its feature set, its interface is simple and a pleasure to use. Matt compared BeyondPod to the free MyPOD, and BeyondPod was his app of choice.
Price: $7, free to try for seven days.
Along with BeyondPod, DoggCatcher is among the top paid podcast apps for Android. Like BeyondPod, DoggCatcher is packed with features, including the ability to remember the position you were at in a file, support for video podcasts as well as audio ones, variable speed playback, and podcast recommendations based on your subscriptions. At $5, it’s a bit cheaper than BeyondPod – unfortunately, there’s no free version to try before you buy.
DoggCatcher and BeyondPod are pretty similar in their feature sets, and which you prefer may just come down to which interface you like best.
Pocket Casts is another high-quality paid podcast app. It’s got all the features you’d expect from the apps above, including a fairly unique one – Pocket Casts uses Pocket Cast’s servers to check for updates. When you check for updates, Pocket Casts will ask Pocket Cast’s servers if new episodes are available instead of checking each podcast individually, allowing you to refresh 100 podcasts in the speed it would take you to refresh one in another application.
Angela loved Pocket Casts. Its interface is slick, with a few small tabs at the bottom of the app for your library, playing podcasts, downloaded episodes, podcast searching, and settings. Along with BeyondPod and DoggCatcher, it’s among the best podcast apps for Android. Unfortunately, all three are paid apps. The good news is that Pocket Casts is a bit cheaper than BeyondPod and DoggCatcher.
Podkicker deserves a mention for its price as well as its simplicity. It’s got a fairly clean UI, can play both audio and video podcasts, and can stream episodes instead of downloading them. Adding podcasts is easy too, with its integrated searchable directory, Google Reader/Listen import, and OPML support. It’s free, too.
Unfortunately, the free version of Podkicker has one glaring omission – it can’t automatically download new episodes in the background. You’ll have to tell it to download episodes manually. If you’re looking for a podcast application that automatically downloads episodes on Wi-Fi so you can play them on the go, you’ll need the pro version of Podkicker, which costs $3.
Price: Free, $3 for automatic downloads and some other features
ACast’s interface is rough around the edges; there’s no getting around that. However, it’s a powerful app that gives you all its features for free. Unlike Podkicker, which has a cleaner and less frustrating interface, ACast has automatic podcast updates and downloading, so your podcasts can be all downloaded when you pick up your smartphone and head out the door. If you’re looking for a free podcast app that will automatically download podcasts for you, ACast is a good choice.
It’s got quite a few other features including adjustable playback speed, too.
Price: Free, $4 to disable ads
Stitcher Radio takes a radically different approach to podcasts. It’s an app for listening to radio shows, live radio stations, news – and podcasts, too. From within Stitcher, you can search for podcasts and create custom “stations” from them.
Stitcher streams everything on-demand, no downloading required – unfortunately, this is another way of saying that you can’t download podcasts on Wi-Fi; you’ll have to stream them using your cellular data connection on the go. Nevertheless, Stitcher is a solid application if you don’t care about downloading podcasts for use offline; its integrated radio support makes it great for listening to live streams and discovering new things to listen to. Stitcher is completely free.
Price: Free, but you may pay a lot more for cellular data
To discover more great Android apps, check out our list of the 100+ best Android apps.
If you’re looking for something to listen to, check out Technophilia, the podcast featuring MakeUseOf writers Justin Pot, James Bruce, and Dave LeClair. We also have a list of the best technology podcasts.
Which Android podcast app do you prefer? Was it not mentioned here? Leave a comment and cast your vote!
Image Credit: Phone and Headphones via Shutterstock