Best podcast apps of 2021
Given how popular podcasting remains, having one of the best podcast apps on your smartphone makes more sense than ever. And that’s not just because they play back episodes of your favorite shows, which is something built-in podcasting apps can offer.
Instead, the best podcast apps look beyond playback, with features that manage your downloads, create playlists and even help you discover new shows to follow. The best of the best even include a variety of audio tools and features to optimize your listening experience, so that you can listen on a commute without missing a word.
Some podcast apps even go beyond management tools. We’re seeing some top podcast recording apps that let you record your own audio files directly on your smartphone.
No matter what you’re looking for in an app, our collection of the best podcast apps for iOS and Android devices has something that will meet your criteria.
The best podcast apps you can download today
1. Pocket Casts (Android, iOS)
Pocket Casts has long been one of our favorite mobile podcatchers, thanks to features like cross-device and cross-platform syncing, episode auto-downloading and cleanup. As a paid app, though, there was a significant barrier to entry. That changed in 2019 when Pocket Casts went completely free on mobile without dropping any features for free users.
In addition to the cross platform syncing, Pocket Casts allows for podcast discovery based on categories or your listening habits, and the app features organization tools for streaming and downloading episodes (and cleaning up episodes that you’ve listened to). Configurable controls cover timeskips, sleep timers and more. A Pocket Casts Plus tier adds the desktop and web apps, 10GB cloud storage, as well as themes and custom icons.
2. Overcast (iOS)
Marco Ament’s Overcast offers a great combination of clean design, powerful audio and podcast management features. Overcast deftly handles episode playbacks and downloads, sends notifications of new episodes, and can play offline or through streaming if you need to save some space; plus it has some nice audio features. Voice Boost normalizes the sound levels of speech, automatically raising quiet voices and lowering loud ones. Smart Speed automatically cuts away at gaps and silence in the podcast, speeding up play without distorting audio.
Updates over the years have added interface enhancements, an iOS widgets and an action tray that makes it easier to manage episodes of your favorite podcasts.
Download Overcast: iOS
3. Google Podcasts (Android, iOS)
Google has gotten into the podcast game, with its very own podcasting app. Google Podcasts is a must-have if you own a Google Home speaker along with an Android phone. And now the redesigned app is available for iPhones, too.
You’ll be able to start a podcast on your phone during your commute and pick up where you left off when you get home by picking up the podcast on your smart speaker. Other features include the ability to adjust playback speed, Google Assistant integration and adding podcasts to the app directly from Google searches. Google also promises AI-powered capabilities in the future, such as automatic closed captioning. For now, a redesign emphasizes podcast discovery, with the Explore tab in the app featuring a For You section that recommends podcasts based on your interests.
4. Spotify (Android, iOS)
Spotify used to be more about streaming music than podcasts. But that’s changed thanks to moves taken over the past few years, as Spotify snapped up podcast producer Gimlet Media and podcast creation tool Anchor; it’s also inked a deal with Joe Rogan to make Spotify the exclusive home of his popular podcast.
Spotify organizes podcasts in a variety of categories, such as Storytellers, Sports & Recreation, and Comedy, and users can subscribe to individual podcasts, manage downloads, and share podcasts through social media. Playback and management options are sparse compared to other apps, but if you’re already using Spotify for your streaming music and don’t want to dig around for a dedicated podcatcher, then give it a shot.
5. Castro (iOS)
Unlike many of the best podcast apps, Castro’s primary virtue is its simplicity and ease of use. The app combines sleek visual design with crystal clear audio. Episodes download in the background. The result is a podcatcher that isn’t cluttered with too many complex features.
That’s not to say Castro is bare bones, as it includes dynamic storage management, automatic episode downloads and episode streaming. The app is free, though a $19-per-year subscription to Castro Plus offers advanced features such as trimming silence to speed up playback, enhancing voices so that podcasts are easier to hear when you’re listening in loud environments, and the ability to import files directly.
Download Castro: iOS
6. Luminary (Android, iOS; $4.99/month)
Luminary wants to set itself up as the Netflix of podcasting, with an all-you-can-listen-to buffet of podcasts as well as a library of exclusive shows, such as Fiasco, Hear to Slay, and Trevor Noah’s On Second Thought. For $4.99, subscribers gain access to Luminary’s exclusive titles ad-free, while free-tier users can turn to the app to listen to a range of free podcasts.
Otherwise, Luminary runs the gamut of good podcasting app features, including search and discovery tools that learn from your listening habits, playback controls and offline mode.
7. Laughable (Android, iOS)
We could all use a laugh these days, and that’s what Laughable promises with its comedy-focused podcast app. Laughable boasts the world’s largest database of comedians — search for your favorite, and you’ll not only find podcasts they host but a list of appearances on other shows. (It’s not just comedy; Laughable’s database includes athletes, actors and other public figures, too.)
You can subscribe to other podcasts within Laughable, and enjoy playback features like offline listening, adjustable playback speed and a sleep timer.
8. Himalaya (Android, iOS)
Himalaya covers both ends of the spectrum, with a free podcast player app for listeners as well as a platform for creators to publish and monetize their podcasts. The app features more than 500,000 podcasters and 270,000 podcasts, with more than 24 million individual episodes.
Existing podcast listeners can import their subscriptions from services like Google Podcasts, Spotify and TuneIn Radio, or you can search for new podcasts based on your listening habits, popularity, featured shows, and other filters.
9. Castbox (Android, iOS)
Podcasting platform CastBox combines a clean and navigable interface, a good selection of podcasts, and powerful podcast audio searching to deliver an excellent mobile podcatcher.
Users can sign in with Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter, and then search and subscribe to podcasts, download episodes for offline listening and sync their subscriptions across multiple devices. You can stream podcasts through Chromecast or Amazon Echo, and a premium tier removes subscription limits, allows for homepage customization, and puts you on priority for customer support and new features.
10. RadioPublic (Android, iOS)
RadioPublic may still be a relative newcomer among the best podcast apps, but it’s dedicated to delivering a fair deal to listeners and creators alike, with a generous ad-supported model that pays creators the more you listen.
The app offers hundreds of thousands of different podcasts across a variety of categories, with options for automatic downloads and streaming playback, organization tools and playlists and audiobook support.
11. Downcast (iOS: $2.99)
Downcast is a robust online search for podcast subscriptions, auto-downloading and the ability to import and export OMPL podcast feeds help you ensure your podcasts stay up-to-date.
A highly customizable playlist maker lets you tinker and selectively build your playlists on the go, while numerous playback options (such as episode streaming, variable speed playback, video podcast support and more) allow you to play your content however you like.
Downcast continues to update to its features, with CarPlay, Apple Watch, and Google Cast support among the additions.
Download Downcast: iOS
12. Podcast Republic (Android)
Podcast Republic is a free, ad-supported podcatcher app that offers you a wealth of features, so much so that we’re almost surprised that it’s not a paid app. Podcast Republic covers everything from podcast discovery and automatic downloading, configurable storage management, streaming playback support, a sleep timer and car mode for easy handling while on the road. Chromecast and Android Wear support allow you to ‘cast or control the app from your wrist.
Podcast Republic is ad-supported, but an in-app purchase for $1.99 removes that.
Download Podcast Republic: Android
13. Podcast Addict (Android)
Podcast Addict is a solid, feature-packed Android podcatcher that comes with neat extras. It covers the basics with automatic updating of episodes and downloads, as well as automatic deletion features to save space, variable speed playback, a sleep timer and other neat quality of life features.
Podcast search allows you to quickly find individual episodes, or search through a variety of databases for new podcasts and trending shows. In addition, the app also supports video podcasts, YouTube channels, audiobooks, streaming radio and other media sources.
Download Podcast Addict: Android
14. Procast (Android, iOS)
Podcast fans who like to talk about and share shows and moments from their favorite episodes might find Procast right up their alley. The app lets you take short, shareable snippets of audio from a podcast episode, store it on your phone, and then easily share with your friends and social media contacts.
In addition, Procast has a consolidated inbox for quickly getting to all the newest episodes of your subscribed podcasts. Easy, Tinder-like swipe controls allow you to sort through episode libraries and podcasts.
15. Stitcher Radio for Podcasts (Android, iOS)
Stitcher lets you “stitch together” your podcasts into a customized playlist, facilitating access to the latest episodes as they are released without downloading or syncing. You can also download episodes for offline listening. News audio alerts sent to your phone help you keep up with late breaking stories.
Stitcher helps you find new shows by recommending what mutual listeners like, as well as personalized show recommendations based on your history.
16. TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS)
TuneIn Radio facilitates podcast discovery and delivery for sports, news, music, and talk with more than 100,000 radio stations and some 4 million podcasts streaming from around the world. Upgrade to TuneIn Premium for live play-by-play of NFL, MLB, and Barclays Premier League games, commercial-free music stations, and an audio book library. The app supports Apple Watch and has various levels of premium in-app purchases for both platforms.
17. Spreaker Studio (Android, iOS)
Spreaker features an app that’s all about listening to podcast — Spreaker Podcast Radio — with versions for Android and iOS. But the free Spreaker Studio app lands on our list of best podcast apps by turning your mobile phone into a handheld podcasting studio. That enables you to record audio clips and add sound effects and music (which you can play while recording).
Editing tools in the app can handle volume and channel settings. In addition, you can just broadcast live, and a chat feature lets you interact with listeners. Episode management tools let you sort episodes into shows and auto-post to Facebook and Twitter once you’re done editing.
18. Ferrite Recording Studio
At a glance, Ferrite Recording Studio resembles a typical voice memos app. But hit the edit button and instead of getting an interface for trimming your clip, you end up in a full-fledged multitrack studio for creating your own podcasts.
You can import audio, set tracks to duck under others — for example, to ensure music doesn’t overpower voices — and strip silences. On iPad, Split View support lets you reference research while recording. All this is entirely free.
Pay $29.99 to go pro and Ferrite becomes even more powerful, removing recording limitations and opening up a wealth of features to improve podcast production, including automation, auto-levels, noise reduction, archiving and chapter markers. This is desktop-class stuff on an iPad and, amazingly, even on an iPhone.
Download Ferrite Recording Studio: iOS
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