I love Pocket Casts
Pocket Casts has been my go-to podcast app for years. I consider myself a podcast power user and the default iOS podcast app just didn’t do it for me.
I’m also a cross-platform guy so I wanted an app that I could use on iOS and Android and PocketCasts was the only app that could sync between multiple platforms at the time.
So I bought the app and have been happy with it ever since.
PocketCasts is now FREE
PocketCasts has a new business model. Instead of having to buy the app to enjoy the best podcast listening app (IMHO) you can now download it FOR FREE. PocketCasts has decided it wants everyone to be able to use the app because they believe podcasting should be open and without walled gardens.
But they are also offering a paid version of Pocketcasts…
PocketCasts Plus is $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year and you will get some new features for your small investment.
- Access to the PocketCasts Desktop app.
- Upload your own media files to listen in the PocketCasts platform.
- Customize the app with colors and icons of your choice.
PocketCasts Desktop app was previously sold as a separate app but is now included with PocketCasts Plus. You can listen to the Android or iOS PocketCasts app while commuting to work and then switch to the desktop web app and continue your episode on your computer. PocketCasts remembers where you left off! Just like switching between Android and iOS apps.
If you have your own media files like keynote speach recordings from conferences, ebook recordings, webinar recordings or any other sources you can now upload them into your PocketCasts account and access them through PocketCasts. This is cool.
And if you are bored of the light, dark and extra dark options in PocketCasts you can now customize the look of the app to your own liking by choosing your own colors and icons.
If these features apeal to you then the low cost of upgrading to PocketCasts Plus may be worth it.
I think this new freemium pricing model is a great move for PocketCasts. When I introduce new people to podcasting I find they are hesitant to buy an app so I tell them to use Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or another free podcast app. But now that PocketCasts is free I can just tell them to go straight to my favorite podcatcher!
PocketCasts and Public Radio
The app was developed by Shifty Jelly, a company in Adelaide, Australia.
When it was recently announced that they sold PocketCasts to a consortium of US Public Radio companies I was worried but their FAQ assured me that I had nothing to worry about. Everything would remain the same…
And so I kept using the app and months later I read an article about a new update that added some great new features to the app.
I love the PocketCasts app but there were some missing features. I wanted to be able to play a podcast episode without subscribing to the show. And I wanted to be able to search episode titles.
I was happy to see that the new update to PocketCasts included these two features and a whole lot more!
Shocking new Pocket Casts re-design!
So I upgraded my app and when I opened it for the first time I freaked out! No, no, Noooo.
This isn’t just an update that added features and functionality.
This update is a complete app re-design.
The layout is completely different and the user interface doesn’t even resemble the previous version. I found myself wishing that I had read the update notes more carefully and I immediately wanted my old familiar PocketCasts app back.
I was used to swiping left to get to the show notes but it didn’t work. The episode queue was below the player now instead of swiping to the right. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the show notes at first but then I found the icon on the left of the episode menu bar at the bottom of the player. Not a bad thing… just different.
It was a little bit of a shock at first because I have been using this app as my only podcatcher for years. But now that I’ve had a day to play with it I am starting to really like it.
I’m still not used to the new layout yet as I can’t help but to swipe left and right to get to the show notes and queue. I do however believe that the new design is a better UI and I am ultimately a happy customer.
The new layout:
The new layout is definitely better. The key features are no longer hidden in sub-menus and once you get used to the new design it just feels better.
Let’s take a look at the new Pocket Casts features:
Searching episode titles
Sometimes I scroll through episode titles to try and find a specific guest interview in a podcast.
I’ve also spent time scrolling through episodes looking for topic keywords I may be interested in. It is a pain in the butt.
Now in the new Pocket Casts, I can search episode titles within a podcast! This is a big deal.
Playing episodes without having to subscribe
This feature was on my wishlist but it wasn’t that big a deal for me. I got used to having to subscribe to a show temporarily in order to listen to one episode. But now I don’t have to do that.
In Pocket Casts 7, I can see podcast episodes and play them without having to subscribe.
A new discover section with location optimization
The discovery section of the app has been improved to include regional content making your searches for content more relevant to you.
Podcast Discoverability is a controversial topic and there are apparently startups working on the discoverability issue. Whether or not podcast discovery is a problem it is nice to have a more personalized search interface.
Up Next (the episode queue) syncing
This is a feature that I didn’t realize I needed. But now that I have it, I love it.
I use both iOS and Android devices. My primary device is an iPhone and I also use an Android Tablet. I’ve been using my iPhone for most of my podcast listening and when I watch a video podcast (that I’m not casting to my TV) I use my Android tablet to watch the show.
Sometimes I use my tablet to listen to audio podcasts as well. But with the old version of PocketCasts, the episode queue didn’t sync over from my iPhone.
In PocketCasts 7, the Up Next section syncs across all platforms.
Android, iOS, Web App and Desktop apps.
I listen to so many podcasts that I sometimes forget what episode I listened to the previous week that had a particular conversation I want to find.
Now, with Pocket Casts 7, I can review my listening history and see which episodes I played in the past.
This is another feature that I didn’t know I needed but will totally use.
You can now archive episodes you don’t want without losing the play status so you can see which episodes you listened to or watched.
I’ve done this in the past with the old PocketCasts app. I archive a bunch of episodes that I don’t want to listen to and they all get put into the played episodes section. Then when I’m looking for an episode I haven’t listened to I can’t see the unplayed podcast episodes.
Another great feature of PocketCasts 7.
Refined light and dark themes
PocketCasts had light and dark themes in the past but now there is an ‘extra dark’ theme which looks pretty cool.
In the old PocketCasts app I used the light theme but I find that with the new design I prefer the dark and very dark theme.
Streaming Playback effects
When streaming a show you can now add playback effects without having to download the show.
Enhanced Apple Watch support
This will be a great update if you have an Apple Watch. I don’t use one but according to Spreaker / Voxnest, there is a significant amount of podcast usage coming through the Apple Watch.
I listen to podcasts in the car a lot.
So this feature allows me to be even more hands-free than I was before. I added shortcuts to play suggested episode, resume and pause episodes.
More Pocket Casts 7 improvements…
Another user interface improvement I noticed is in the Up Next section (episode queue).
If you tap one of the episodes in the queue it does not automatically play the episode anymore.
It brings up the episode with options to Play Now, remove from Up Next, Mark Played, and Read Show notes.
This is a huge improvement. I have accidentally tapped an episode in the queue or tapped it to read the show notes while listening to another podcast. When I tapped the episode it automatically played the episode cutting off the current show I was listening to.
With Pocket Casts 7, now I can do it without interrupting my current program.
This update also added Airplay 2 support and many other small improvements to the app.
PocketCasts says that this considerable update is just the beginning and they are working on many new things that they will be sharing with us soon.
As a loyal PocketCasts user and fan, I was a little worried when I first saw the new design. But now that I’ve used the app I can see that this was an extremely well thought out re-design.
Considering all the new features and the improved layout, I can say that this redesign is a winner… in my opinion.
What do you think?