Podcast Apps and the Podcasts App

I’ve used a variety of podcast apps over the years, each for a long stretch of time. Pocket Casts was my app of choice on Android and that carried over when I moved to iOS. I tried Overcast, and while I know most folks in the circle of indie app developers and podcasters alike love it, it just wasn’t for me. I moved from Pocket Casts to Castro and used it for several years. Now I’m using Apple Podcasts, which surprises me a bit.

Late last year I decided I’d try to eliminate some yearly app subscription costs by simply trying the default or Apple native option. So many of Apple’s apps have matured and evolved, so I didn’t want to assume that Podcasts (the app) was underpowered for a pretty serious podcasts consumer like myself. I knew I’d be leaving some pro” features on the table. Two of those were trimming silence and voice boosting. Another was Castro’s sideload ability. Yet another was the ability to create a shareable clip of a moment from the podcast. Castro did all these things very well, but other than trim silence and voice boost (which I had on as defaults for all podcasts), I didn’t find myself actually using the other cool features very often at all. Castro also had a cool feature that I did use semi-frequently that allowed you to share a YouTube video to it and it would sideload the audio of that podcast with metadata preserved. I do actually miss this feature a bit, but there’s workarounds using my read-later app of choice, Matter.

I hadn’t realized at almost the same time I started experimenting with Apple Podcasts, Castro began having stability issues and there were rumors that the app was going away completely. In late January, we learned that where there was smoke, there was fire and Castro was sold. I think it is great that the app will live on, but I would prefer to not be on the possible rollercoaster of what the new buyer may decide to do with it.

So, while it may not have every bell and whistle, I can say that Apple Podcasts is pretty solid. I’ve been using it for over 3 months now and it’s been fine. The UI is eerily consistent with Apple Music. The playback speed controls are fine. The missing trim silence is not a big deal. The Apple Watch app and integration is more solid than any other app I’ve used. The syncing with other devices is great. Being able to listen on my television through Apple TV is nice. The Homepod playback works really well. I’ve read that transcriptions of podcasts is coming soon in the app, which is nice. I hope it has the ability to share a specific section of a podcast like the Music app does with the lyrics highlighting and sharing.

My gripes with the app are few. I don’t like that if I listen to a single episode of a podcast, the app begins suggesting new episodes of that podcast to me for listening as they come out. If I wanted to listen to more than the episode I selected, I would have downloaded more episodes or subscribed/followed the show itself. I wish that was something I could toggle off. The only other annoyance I can think of is that if I’m listening to an episode and then start listening to another, the one I left doesn’t automatically fall to next in my queue (or anywhere in my queue at all) to resume afterwards. From what I can tell, those just fall into the ether and I have to go back hunting for them to add them back to my queue manually.

So that’s it. I’m what I would consider a podcast superuser and yet I’m totally content to use the app that ships with the OS across the Apple ecosystem. If you would have asked me much further back than late last year, I would never have imagined that I’d be content consuming content this way, but experiments are often illuminating.

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