Whether you enjoy immersing yourself in gritty crime dramas or prefer using your commute time to listen to self-help tips, podcasts have something for everyone. But where can you find these cool podcasts? If you’re an iOS user, you have a lot to choose from. From the classic Apple Podcasts app to popular free podcast apps, we’ve rounded up the list of the best podcast apps for iOS users.
Want to up your listening game? Check out our guide to the best music apps and the best audiobook apps.
Sometimes the classic is the best. The native Apple Podcasts app comes pre-setup and is free to use, so you likely won’t need to look at other podcast apps at all. You get access to millions of podcasts, including some of the most popular ones like The Daily and Stuff You Should Know. While the free version is more than enough, you can also buy subscriptions to specific podcasts to enjoy additional benefits. Apple Podcasts hosts several subscriber-only shows like podcasts by CNN, NPR, and The Washington Post. Like Subtstack, some creators offer both free and paid content, so you can decide whether you enjoy their episodes before subscribing.
Apple Podcasts also offers personalized recommendations based on your listening history so you can always find interesting episodes based on your interests. It works with Siri so you just ask the assistant to play any episode or playlist of your choice, so you can listen hands-free while working out or doing chores.
Overcast is a well-known name in the podcast industry. Users love its “Smart Speed” feature that dynamically removes silences, so you can listen to only the important stuff and not any long pauses between answers. Plus, the filters are smart and customizable so you can design a custom playlist to best suit your needs.
Overcast offers excellent sound quality so you can hear crystal-clear conversations from your favorite artists. The sound quality is maintained even in noisy places, giving you a lot of flexibility about where you listen. Giving you even more sense of control is its download feature, which lets you download podcasts for offline use, so you can listen while commuting, during your workouts, or even on a vacation, without worrying about internet access. Moreover, the app is compatible with CarPlay and works on other iOS devices to offer a seamless experience.
Pocket Casts is one of the most popular podcast apps for a reason — it’s free! Along with saving you tons of money, it also offers a convenient listening experience as it’s beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and offers personalized recommendations right on your homepage. If you’re looking to enhance your experience, you can get the Pocket Casts Plus subscription (just a little over $1 a month) which lets you listen to your favorite podcasts on the desktop app. The subscription also lets you upload external files, so you can use the Pocket Casts audio player to listen to third-party audiobooks, or downloaded podcasts. Subscribers can also choose a unique theme, and customize their experience.
To further improve your listening experience, the app lets you filter through your episodes so you always listen to the right podcast to suit your mood. It also syncs with smart speakers so you can enjoy the episodes with your whole family or group of friends. The best part? Like other options, it lets you trim silence so you can skip the awkward pauses and save time.
Stitcher is perfect for organization lovers. It offers some of the best filters and sorting tools so you can design playlists that perfectly match your current needs. You can experiment with tons of settings to further personalize your experience, giving you maximum control over your listening experience. You can set a sleep timer, connect to external speakers, and get expert-curated recommendations to find new podcasts based on your interests.
If you want to enjoy even more benefits, consider subscribing to Stitcher Premium. For just $5 a month, subscribers enjoy exclusive episodes and bonus content from their favorite creators. Like Apple Podcasts, some shows are only accessible via a subscription, so if you want to enjoy the full library, you have to pay up. Along with exclusive content, subscribers also get ad-free listening and fun giveaways.
Castbox offers a bit of everything. You get access to popular podcasts, audiobooks, FM radio, white noise, and guided meditations. You can combine different content types to build a playlist for the entire day. This is ideal for listeners who love having something play in the background as they go about their day. Like other apps, Castbox also offers personalized recommendations, comprehensive playlists, and customizable playback settings.
What sets it apart though is its compatibility with CarPlay. This way you can take your favorite podcasts anywhere you go. Another fantastic feature is the app’s ability to search for keywords within podcast audio so you can find niche podcast episodes even if the particular words aren’t mentioned in the title or description. We also love the app’s social aspect. Listeners can leave comments on the episodes they’re listening to and hosts can choose to reply to build a relationship.
Castbox also has a premium subscription that offers ad-free listening. Free users are limited to subscriptions up to 100 shows but subscribers can have unlimited subscriptions. They also enjoy more advanced playback settings for the best possible listening experience.
Offering the Castbox experience with more variety is Spotify, an app combining everything from the best music to the most popular audiobooks. It’s easy to create custom playlists and share them with friends, adding a cool social element to an otherwise solitary experience. The recommendation engine is powerful and the search feature brings out great results as well, so you can always find what you’re looking for. The sound quality is pretty impressive and you can customize each setting.
It’s free to use with an optional premium subscription but you don’t have to pay anything to access the podcasts. At $10 a month, the paid subscription offers ad-free listening, the ability to download content for offline listening, and unlimited skips if you don’t like what you’re listening to. Spotify has a range of subscription options though. You can also get Spotify Duo, a couple’s subscription (two premium accounts) for $13. The family subscription offers six premium accounts for $16. This version lets you block explicit music and use Spotify Kids — exclusively designed for younger listeners. Students can enjoy a student-only subscription for $5. This version also offers Hulu (ad-supported) plan and Showtime.
Castro works on a “Queue” system that creates a single playlist with all your episodes from different podcasts. It helps you scan, pick and prioritize some episodes while ignoring the rest as there’s only so much time in the day and you can’t possibly listen to every episode a show releases. The interface is clean, intuitive, and minimalistic with little to distract you from your listening. This app also has the “Trim Silence” feature so you can skip the gaps in conversations.
To enjoy added benefits, you can subscribe to Castro Plus. The paid subscription offers a higher audio quality with a dynamic audio boost that enhances quiet voices while maintaining louder ones so you enjoy a better listening experience. The premium version also lets you add external audio files to your queue so you can listen to whatever you want with zero interruptions. The paid subscription also offers a variety of advanced settings like custom audio filters, skipping intros, and adjusting the playback speed for each podcast.
One of the newest additions to the podcasting world, Google Podcasts offers everything you need from a podcast app. It’s free, lets you create a queue of episodes, and offers great playback control. It also tracks your listening history, downloads, and subscriptions so you can stay on top of new episodes. Created by Google, it has a powerful search engine and offers great recommendations so you can discover new artists based on your interests.
What we love the most about Google Podcasts is the flexibility it offers. You can use it via the iOS app, but it also has a desktop version, an Android app, and pairs well with many wearable devices. It also offers great convenience if you pair it with Google Assistant speakers. Simply command the assistant to play an episode and you can enjoy hands-free listening. This one doesn’t offer any paid subscriptions or subscriber-only shows, so you can enjoy all the content for free.