We’ll Just Say It: This Is a Nearly Perfect Podcast App

Plus, a few other decent choices

Whitson Gordon
Published in
6 min readSep 30, 2019


A woman holds her phone and smiles as she listens to a podcast on her headphones.
Photo: supersizer/E+/Getty

RRemember when you had to sync your iPod with your computer every time you downloaded new music? Podcasts once worked the same way — you had to plug in every time a new episode was available. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot easier 15 years later, and podcasts are now more popular than ever.

That popularity has led to a boom in podcasting apps. If you want to search beyond default services, like those built into iOS or Spotify, it can be a challenge to figure out which is best — especially if you’re a true podcast junkie.

Brian Lovin is a designer at GitHub and host of the Design Details podcast, part of the Spec podcast network that he co-created with two of his colleagues. So, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about the relationship between good design and the world of podcasting. Like me, he’s a fan of Pocket Casts for its sheer number of options.

Screenshots courtesy of Pocket Casts

“A good podcast app understands that not all content should be treated the same,” Lovin explains. “Pocket Casts is, in my opinion, the best podcast app on the market right now because it deeply understands this point. Every show I subscribe to can have custom listening behaviors like variable playback effects, download preferences, and notifications. For example, I listen to my political talk podcasts at 1.5x playback speed, but my comedy shows are played at 1x speed so I can get the full effect of timed delivery.”

It’s this same thing that drew me to Pocket Casts years ago. The app doesn’t force me to download every single episode, which is useful for shows that publish frequently like NPR’s hourly News Now podcast. Instead, I can mark the latest installment as “unread,” so I don’t end up with a never-ending backlog. On the other hand, I’m perfectly okay with my irregular, evergreen shows like AVExcel (a podcast for home theater nerds) racking up old episodes on my device, since I’ll binge them all eventually. With Pocket Casts, you can customize whether podcasts download or stream by default, skip the first few minutes of each episode, and…