If you are hooked on podcasts or on the hunt for a new one, you are not alone. A survey conducted by Edison Research in January 2022 showed that 50% of people between the ages of 12 and 34 listen to podcasts every month.
A great podcast can be a fun companion as you commute, go on a run or walk, wait for your dental appointment, or just relax at home. It will take you on an audio journey through comedy, literature, entertainment, politics, science, health, and a host of other genres.
There are podcasts about seemingly anything, so there is undoubtedly one for you, whether you’re seeking a new love story, a news update, or want to thrill your mind with crime and suspense stories.
Fortunately, the global popularity of podcasts means that there are numerous podcast apps and platforms to choose from. There are free and premium subscription services available on various devices.
We have narrowed down the four best podcasting listening apps that you need to check out today. We dive deep into their features, pros, and cons to help you understand why and how they stand out from other podcast services.
#1 Apple Podcasts
Apple began hosting podcasts in June 2005 on the iTunes app. In 2012, it introduced its first standalone app for iOS devices.
Although available only for iOS users, Apple Podcasts is one of the best and most feature-rich free podcast apps available today. It provides free access to more than 40 million podcast episodes that you can easily download for offline listening.
It also hosts over one million active podcasts in more than 100 languages. It’s no wonder that this app is the biggest podcast player in the world.
Recently, Apple Podcasts added curated channels and premium subscription options for certain shows. You can unlock exclusive titles or extra content by paying a monthly subscription fee.
This will also give you premium benefits such as ad-free listening, early access to unreleased episodes, and exclusive events.
The best part is that many of these premium subscriptions offer listeners a free trial before charging them for the first month.
- Apple Podcasts syncs seamlessly with Siri, so you can easily control playback and follow shows.
- Linking your account to the Amazon Alexa app allows you to listen to the podcast app using Alexa.
- Apple Podcasts also allows users to browse podcasts based on genres and Apple-curated collections. You can easily discover shows based on your interests or check out recommendations for new podcast titles.
- The app has a search page that makes it easy to find podcasts by topic or by people mentioned within episodes via their transcripts.
- You can easily control playback and rewind episodes by 15 seconds or fast-forward by 30 seconds. You can play podcasts via Bluetooth from the app, adjust the audio speed, and set a sleep timer for when you need to pause. You can also speed up the playback by 2x.
- When you subscribe to a podcast, Apple Podcasts will notify you when a new episode rolls out.
- You can read reviews from other Apple Podcasts users to help you decide whether a podcast is a good fit for you.
- The app syncs across all devices.
- You can group podcasts together to suit your needs using the “Stations” feature.
- A comprehensive selection of podcast titles
- Exclusive podcasts
- Free podcasts
- Free trial for premium subscriptions
- Intuitive and easy to navigate
- Playback via Bluetooth from the app
- Compatible with Siri and Amazon Alexa
- Compatible with iPhones and iPads with iOS 10.0 or later
- Not available for non-iOS devices
- Premium show subscriptions are locked behind a paywall
#2 Google Podcasts
Google Podcasts is a popular free podcast service that came out in June 2018 for Android devices. In 2020, it became available on iOS, too, making it one of the best podcasting listening apps for mobile users.
However, unlike Apple Podcasts, this app lacks exclusive podcasts, which is a major drawback for avid listeners.
- Google Podcasts boasts a clean, simple, and streamlined interface. This makes it easy and convenient for users to navigate and listen to podcasts.
- You can also subscribe to podcast titles and get notifications when a new episode is released.
- You can download episodes for offline listening.
- Google Podcasts offers recommendations for shows and episodes based on your listening history.
- The homepage directs you to popular podcasts based on genres and trends.
- You can listen on multiple devices.
- If your favorite podcast is not available on this platform, you can import it by entering its public RSS feed into the app.
- If you want to catch up on multiple episodes or shows, you can create a queue.
- The History tab allows you to see the log of what you’ve played. So if you listened to an episode and forgot to save it, you can access it from this tab anytime.
- Google Podcasts has a 10-second rewind button, a 30-second fast-forward option, a sleep timer, and an option to “trim silence” on a show. You can also adjust the audio speed of an episode and share it with other listeners.
- You can access transcripts if they are placed in an episode’s description.
- The personalized smart audio playlist offers tailored and timely news updates in an audio format.
- The app is free of charge
- Clean, minimalist app design that is easy to use
- Hosts many of the same podcast titles as Apple Podcasts
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices and web browsers
- Pre-installed on Android devices
- Skip over silences in an episode
- Add podcasts by entering their public RSS feeds
- Does not host exclusive podcasts
- Lacks the option of leaving podcast reviews
Spotify started as a music streaming app, and now it offers a vast collection of more than 3.2 million curated, genre-specific podcast titles. It also has a wide selection of exclusive podcasts that make it a popular platform for enthusiasts.
Spotify provides free services, but you will need to purchase a paid subscription at $10 a month for an ad-free streaming experience and download support.
As a paid show subscriber, you will get access to exclusive podcast content and behind-the-scenes episodes.
Here are some of its best features:
- Spotify’s podcast homepage showcases curated collections and genres. You will also see spotlights on its original podcast shows that you will not find on any other platform.
- You can “follow” your favorite podcasts on the app. The app also lets you save podcast episodes without following the show.
- Like Apple Podcasts, Spotify allows you to listen to podcasts that you like through any Alexa-supported device like the Amazon Echo.
- You can stream seamlessly from one device to another using the same internet connection.
- Spotify allows users to switch between podcasts and music without needing to change apps.
- Like Google Podcasts, you can line up multiple episodes in a queue and listen to them in any order you want.
- You can make a playlist of podcasts that you want to listen to.
- You can read podcast transcripts if they are in the episode’s description.
- Spotify enables podcast creators to timestamp their episode descriptions. This means listeners can click on a timestamp and jump to that specific point in the episode.
- You can change the speed of a podcast up to 3x, rewind or fast forward by 15 seconds, and set a sleep timer.
- Listeners can rate podcasts on a scale of one to five stars. Spotify displays the average rating on the main page and uses it to highlight popular titles.
- Spotify works well on different devices, including web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari), iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, media players, smart TVs, gaming consoles, cars, smartwatches, and more.
- The Daily Drive Playlist feature brings your favorite music and news updates together for your daily commute.
- Extensive collection of podcasts
- Free podcast titles
- Exclusive podcast content
- Rating system
- Personalized music and news updates with the Daily Drive Playlist feature
- Jump to timestamps in an episode
- Listen to podcasts via Alexa-supported devices
- Compatible with a wide range of devices such as iOS, Android, web browsers, smart devices, gaming consoles, cars, and more
- Premium subscription fee for an ad-free streaming experience, download support, and exclusive content access
Unlike Spotify, Stitcher focuses only on podcasts. It is not only a podcast listening app but also a podcast network. So you can find a selection of more than 460,000 podcasts—including original ones—with a comprehensive range of playback options.
Stitcher’s platform is also one of the most straightforward and sleek among the podcast apps available today. The platform also allows you to check out curated playlist collections that celebrate people of color, women, independent artists, and more.
Stitcher allows users to listen to its podcasts for free. But its Premium plan (priced at $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year) offers ad-free listening, early access to new podcasts, monthly giveaways, and access to exclusive podcast shows and episodes, among other perks.
Let’s take a look at some of its key features:
- The Stitcher app’s homepage features an array of podcasts from different genres, allowing you to browse them easily.
- You can browse the top picks of the week along with curated playlist collections.
- Stitcher’s assortment of playback options lets you adjust your rewind and fast forward times between five seconds and two minutes. You can also adjust the playback speed, set a sleep timer, and skip podcast episodes that you’ve already listened to.
- You can sort your podcast library into groups by topic, mood, situation, time of day, or however else you wish. This provides you with an unparalleled, ultra-smooth listening experience.
- You can queue and rearrange the podcast episodes in the order that you want to listen to them.
- Stitcher allows you to automatically download new podcast episodes and get a list of titles that you’ve already downloaded or liked. You can also free up storage space by deleting all your podcast downloads with one tap.
- You can read transcripts if the podcast show’s creator tags them in the description.
- The Stitcher app is available on Android and iOS, or you can opt for its web player. You can also play podcasts on an Amazon Alexa device or Sonos and in cars via Android Auto, CarPlay, or other smart audio systems.
- Some popular podcast titles make their full backlogs available only to Premium subscribers. Subscribers also get early access to some new episodes.
- Created and designed specifically for podcasts
- A comprehensive collection of podcast titles
- Free app version
- One of the sleekest and cleanest layouts
- Carefully curated collections make it easy to discover new podcast titles
- Features exclusive podcasts
- Organize your favorite podcasts with custom groups
- Listen on the web player, iOS and Android devices, Alexa devices, Sonos, and more
- Free trial for the Premium subscription
- Does not have the most robust settings for playing podcast episodes
- Ad-free listening, monthly giveaways, early access to podcasts, and access to exclusive podcasts are only possible with a paid subscription
Podcast apps are great for listening to your favorite podcasts while commuting, working out, cooking, doing other chores, or simply chilling out. They have surely made life easier and more fun.
With our comprehensive list of the four best podcasting listening apps, you should be able to zero in on a new app for your next listening session.
If you enjoyed reading this guide and found it helpful, visit our website and check out our other podcast guides and blog posts. Happy reading and listening!