About iOS Podcast Players

Instacast

I fell in love with podcasts over ten years ago. And when Instacast came out I tried the app and never looked back. Unfortunately for me, the payed version never grew into a sustainable business model. But at least there was still the Instacast Core app available – home sweet home.

In November last year Martin Hering, the developer of Instacast, announced that he will no longer support the app and released the app as an open source project, hoping that the community will take care of it.

I really hope, this will come true. But since I'm not an iOS developer and don't plan to become one, I'll have to patiently wait for a sucessor.

A new hope

This lead me to another journey: find a podcast player, that fits my needs.

To get this off first: I wanted to test some selected apps from independent developers. I think, these are probably the people that come up with nice ideas and need our attention and support. Therefore I skipped the elephant in the room: Apples own podcast app.

A note aside: I don't mind paying for software and I don't mind subscription payments. If an app offers a payed plan and I use the app a lot, I'll propably throw in some money. Even if I don't use some extra features, just to support the developer.

I selected three "contenders" and used them for a couple of month each by listening to new episodes and to the backlog of some podcasts I just discovered:

  • Podcat - because I love cats
  • Castro - was mentioned a lot by people I trust
  • Overcast - Marco Arment doesn't doubt the germans

Everything written about the apps is completely personal taste.

Podcat

This is slick! I really, really love the interface. Especially the tinted progress bars, chapter selection and the scrubbing interface. Coming from Instacast, I felt right at home using Podcat. The only thing that bugged me was, that sometimes the app started to "forget" that I already listened to all episodes in a feed, marked all episodes as new and started to download the files. Not a big thing and not very often, but still slightly annoying.

Castro

Even before downloading the app I thought: "Not another inbox to manage. I hate inboxes". And this is what Castro sets apart from the other players: new episodes arrive in an inbox where you can queue them up for listening or "archive" them (mark them as listened). But despite my thoughts, this fits quite well to my listening behaviour. But there is always a "but". I don't like the GUI. Its usable for me, but just not my cup of coffe.

Overcast

This is a very nice piece of software. The amount of work and care put into Overcast can be felt all over the place. I really like the feature to shrink silences in an episode - this makes listening so much nicer. Of cause I do have some minor gripes with the app. The list of podcasts is a little bit too cluttered for my taste. To get to the chapter marks you must scroll by the show notes that are themselves scrollable. Doesn't seem to be a big thing, but this just annoys me.

And the winner is…

Well, this is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type of situation, so I won't announce a "winner". You have to decide for yourself, which app is the best fit for you.

One of the three apps I'll use as my new podcast app: Castro - and this despite having the ugliest interface of all. The inbox feature is just a too good match for my daily listening habits. And since I can queue or archive new episodes from the lock screen, I don't have to use the app very often (mostly to skip to the next chapter).


Last edited on 2019-02-21