SO #079: Podcast Players Roundup
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This spreadsheet serves as a visual companion to Second Opinion #79 in which we reviewed many different podcast players. Go to http://thenexus.tv/so79 to hear our detailed thoughts on each.
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PlatformsPriceDirectory of ShowsCan take arbitrary RSS feedsAutomatically download new episodesNotifications about new episodesAutomatically delete played episodesReasonably intuitive interfaceSkip backward/forwardVariable speed playbackTruncate SilenceDisplays show notesMP3 ChaptersGoogle Cast/AirPlayAndroid Auto/CarPlayStream episodesVideo podcastsSynchronize between devicesImport/export OPML filesStart episodes at custom timesPlay episodes without subscribing to a showSleep timerPlayback Widget (Android)Play local filesVisual appealExtra featuresOther notes
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Apple Podcasts
iOS, macOS, Windows, Alexa
Free
Yes; most extensive
YesYesYesYes
Yes; especially if you are used to iOS
Yes; customizable
Yes, but only 0.5x, 1x, 1.5x, 2x
No
Yes, but no embedded images
Yes
Yes, AirPlay, no Google Cast
YesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesN/ANo
Right at home on iOS. Frosted glass backdrop based on current album art.
Can see play history by scrolling up on "play next" list. Can create "stations," collections of mutliple shows to play together. Episodes can be stand alone or part of a season.
Comes preinstalled on iOS, macOS devices. Decisions that Apple makes about how RSS feeds should be formatted are adopted industry-wide.
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Google Podcasts
Android, Google Assistant, Web
Free
Yes; seeded from any RSS feeds the Google Search spider has crawled??
NoYesNoYes
Yes, but there is no queue
Yes, 30s/10s
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
Yes, but no embedded images, description lists are mangled
NoYesYesYesNoYesNoNoYesYesNoNo
Pretty, clean interface, but it's really white
When podcast episodes appear in a Google search, they will open directly in the Google Podcasts app
Sharing episodes uses custom Google Podcast URL
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Pocket Casts
Android, iOS, Web Player, Windows Universal, macOS, Alexa
Free for mobile versions; desktop versions and cloud storage is $10/yr
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYesYes
Yes; customizable
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes; timestamps are clickable, shows images
YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Material design! Dark theme. Solid color backdrop based on current album art.
Many. Can share episodes from the current timestamp. Can create custom filters that put episodes into lists. Shows listening stats. Auto add to queue. Can make episodes visible to other apps.
Will not show RSS items that do not have audio files attached. Do not use the boost volume feature. Owned by NPR.
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OvercastiOS, Web Player
Freemium; remove ads and file upload for $10/yr
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYesYes
Yes; customizable (7/15/30/45/60)
YesYes
Yes; timestamps are clickable, can show images (but this is off by default)
Yes
Yes, AirPlay, no Google Cast (does not want the Google SDK bundled for privacy reasons)
YesYes
Yes, but plays audio only
YesYesNoYesYesN/ANo
Close to native feel, dark theme optional, play/pause button shows volume visualizer
Smart Speed™, audio profiles for device speakers for voice boost, per podcast, very privacy-focused, sharing episodes uses custom Overcast URL. Can share episode at custom timestamp. Create audiograms of selected portion of episode.
Web player very limited. Marco does a lot of work to push the industry forward, like adding a payment button if your shownotes includes a link with the correct attribute.
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Podcast AddictAndroid
Freemium; remove ads for $4
Yes; search can either be seeded from Apple Podcasts or separate
YesYesYesYes
Yes, with a bit of time
Yes; customizable
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes; timestamps are clickable, shows images
YesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Yes; and can skip outro
NoYesYesYes
Dark theme default! Really cluttered, hard to parse pages and written tips. Pretty ugly.
Many. Can stream live radio stations as well; it even has WFNU in its directory. EXTREMELY cutomizable. Adds a payment button if your shownotes includes a link with the correct attribute. Shows listening stats.
Often takes over the playback controls on my watch, which is really annoying.
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BeyondPodAndroid
Freemium; automatic feed updates, download multiple episodes at once, Google Cast, cross-device sync for $5
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYes
Yes; being able to tap anywhere on the album art to play/pause is a nice touch
Yes; customizable
YesNo
Yes; including images
NoYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Yes, can preview episodes
YesYesNo
Dark theme. Frosted glass backdrop based on current album art.
Replay last few seconds (up to 30) when resuming. Skip to end of episode button. Shows episode progress in notification, which breaks in Android 10, widget as a ring around play button.
Hasn't been updated in over a year (at time of recording).
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Stitcher
Android, iOS, Web Player
Freemium: remove banner ads, exclusive shows, ad-free episodes, bonus episodes for $5/mo
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts
NoYesYesYesNo
Yes; customizable; over Bluetooth it skips to next episode
Yes, but only 0.5x, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 2x and not on Web player, not on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes, but formatted terribly (new lines are removed, no lists, no links, no images, character limit); timestamps are clickable
NoYesYesYes
No, video episodes do not even appear in the feed
YesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Clean, very white.
Good approach to discoverability! When viewing a particular show, it has a tab of similar shows; based on your listening patterns and likes/dislikes, it will suggest episodes.
Really weird approach to podcasts; you do not subscribe to shows, you add them to playlists. Playlists can be set to download auomatically. When you start playing an episode, it adds all episodes from the current screen to your queue. The playback notification (Android) only appears when you are not in the app.
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DoggCatcherAndroid$3
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYes
Yes; includes a user guide as one of the default feeds
Yes; customizable
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes; including images
No
Yes, but it has to be turned on in the settings
YesYesYes
No, currently in beta
YesNoNoYesYes
Yes; can also create a "feed" from a local folder
Material design! Dark theme, but it doesn't follow system setting.
Comes with several broad appeal feeds already subscribed. Does nto appear to be a way to see or modify the Up Next queue. The app gave me a lot of "failed to do X" notifications.
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PlayerFM
Android, iOS, Web Player
Freemium: remove ads, cross-device sync, file compression, app themes, file backup, full-text search, unlimited playlists, timestamped bookmarks, play local files for $48/yr
Yes, any shows that any PlayerFM user subscribes to is added to the directory
Yes, but it takes a while because it is adding the show's details to the directory.
YesYesYes
Yes; Pretty customizable. I really like the swipe gestures. Hard to keep track of what queue you're playing from.
Yes; customizable
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes
Yes, but some formatting is weird
Yes, but not on web player
YesYesYes
Yes, but Web player only plays audio
Yes
Yes, but it does not let you choose the directory; it searches your whole device
NoYesYesYesYes, but it's finnicky
Material design! Fully customizeable color theme.
Good onboarding; asks for topics you are interested in, and presents you with a list of shows to get you started. When browsing, lists each show's time commitment. Occasionally gives notifications of recommended shows. Shows episode progress in playback notification. Can make your subscriptions public if you create an account. https://player.fm/ianrbuck/
Do NOT use the boost volume or reduce noise settings.
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AntennaPodAndroidFree
No, but search is seeded from Apple Podcasts and two other databases
YesYesNoYesYes
Yes; customizable
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes; timestamps are clickable, including images
Yes
Yes, but it has to be turned on in the settings
YesYesYesNoYesNoNoYes
Yes, but no skip buttons
No
Nice and clean: one drawer menu, and each item is one page. Dark theme.
Can adjust volume of left/right channels independently, can mix stereo down to mono. Listening stats.
Open source!
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RSSRadioiOS, Web Player
Freemium: remove ads for $2/yr
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
Yes; and it warns you if you try https and the certificate is no good
YesYesYesYes
Yes; customizable
Yes, but it sounds weird
Yes
Yes; including images
YesYesYesYes
Yes; lets you turn off video if you want
Yes; via iCloudYesYes
Yes, "Import" a show without subscribing
YesN/ANo
Dark theme. Shows volume visualizer in front of album art.
Audio compressor!
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iCatcher!iOS
$3, with an in-app tip jar
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYesYes
Yes; customizable. Gesture controls skip by different amounts of time.
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes; timestamps are clickable, alt text instead of images
Yes
Yes, AirPlay, no Google Cast
YesYesYesYes; via iCloudYes
Yes; and can skip outro
YesYesN/AYes
Dark theme. Nice and clean.
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PodcastRepublic
Android, Web Player (basic)
Freemium: remove ads for $3
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts, but missing some shows
YesYesYes
Yes; deletion can be deferred for 24 hours after an episode is played
Yes
Yes; customizable
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes, alt text is shown instead of images
Yes; the user can also add their own
YesYesYesYesYesYes
Yes; and can skip outro
YesYesYes
Yes; can also create a "feed" from a local folder
Nice and clean, dark mode available, cutomizable accent color.
Can subscribe to YouTube channels and playlists, but only stream them. Can stream live radio stations.
Forces you to choose a directory to store your MP3 downloads.
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PodbeanAndroid, iOS
Freemium: remove ads, unlimited playlist, set default homepage for $10/yr
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesYesYes
Yes, but both forward and backward have to be the same interval
YesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes, on AndroidNoYesYesYesNo
Dark theme. Looks outdated on Android. Gets rid of the system status bar on some pages?
Nice onboarding, asks the new user to choose a few topics they are interested in.
Primarily market themselves as a podcast hosting service, but also has a player app. The player reports time in minutes, not hours and minutes. Sharing episodes uses custom Podbean URL.
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DowncastiOS, macOS
$3 on iOS, $5 on macOS, with an in-app tip jar
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
YesYesYesNoYes
Yes, but only the gestures are cutomizable
YesNo
Yes, alt text is shown instead of images
YesYesYesYesYesYes; via iCloud
Yes, export but no import
YesYesYesN/ANo
Dark theme. Nice and clean.
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CastboxAndroid, iOS
Freemium: remove ads for $10/yr, $1/mo, or $15 one-time
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
NoYesYesYesYesYes
Yes, but only at preset speeds on iOS
No
Yes, alt text is shown instead of images
NoYesYesYes
Yes, but variable speed is not available
Yes; really fast!
Yes, on Android; on iOS it can only import from Apple Podcasts
NoYesYesYes
No, but you can fake it by uploading files to your Castbox-hosted podcast feed
Dark theme on Android. Not optimized for iPad. Good looking play notification.
Castbox also serves as a podcast hosting platform, you can manage your show from the app.
Onboarding prompts to import from Apple Podcasts. Sharing episodes uses custom Castbox URL. Can share episode at custom timestamp.
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Spotify
Android, iOS, Windows, macOS
Freemium: see and edit queue, remove ads and limitations on skipping songs for $10/mo
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts, and podcasters are less likely to put their shows in the directory because Spotify caches episode files
NoNoNoNoYesYes, 15s/15s
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
NoNoNoYesYesYes
No, they will not add a feed if it has even a single video episode
Not episode progress, but playlists and subscriptions are synched
NoNoYesYes
Yes, but skip buttons go to next episode
No
Frosted glass, nice aesthetic.
Being able to intersperse music in between podcast episodes is pretty neat.
Spotify bought Gimlet media (podcast production company) and Anchor, a podcast hosting platform, which doesn't sit well with me.
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Pandora
Android, iOS, Web Player
Freemium: remove ads, unlimited skips, offline listening for $10/mo
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts
No
No, you cannot download episodes
NoNo
Yes, because there is nothing here
Yes, 15s/15sNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoYesNoNoYesYes
Yes, it's very cluttered
No
Clean interface. No dark theme.
There's basically nothing here.
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BreakeriOS, Android (beta)Free
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts, but it seems to be missing a few?
Yes
Yes, anything in your playlist is downloaded; all of your subcriptions are automatically added to the playlist; no way to download or remove download other than the playlist
YesNo
Yes, but you have less control than most
Yes, 30s/15s
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
Yes
Yes, but not from the player. Images are not shown.
NoYes
Yes, but the fast forward button is replaced with skip episode
Yes
Yes, but plays audio only
YesYesNoYesYesNoNo
Very cute interface. Not optimized for iPad.
Strangely focused on social element: new users are prompted to search for other users to follow. Has an activity feed from those you follow. Has a comment and like system. Sharing epsiodes uses custom Breaker URL.
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CastroiOS
Freemium: remove ads, trim silence, play local files, show-by-show settings, enhance voices, MP3 chapters, force mono for $19/yr or $3/mo
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts. Not clear how to submit a show to the directory.
YesYesYesYesYes
Yes; customizable
Yes; set on a show-by-show basis
Yes
Yes; including images
Yes
Yes, AirPlay, no Google Cast
YesYes
Yes, but plays audio only
NoYesYesYesYesN/AYes
Pretty animations! Not designed for iPad.
Create audiograms from segments of an episode.
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TuneIn
Android, iOS, Windows Universal, Web, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, Sonos
Freemium: remove ads, get professional sports games live for $100/yr
Yes; seeded from Apple Podcasts
NoYesYesNoYesYes, 30s/30s
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
NoNoNoYes
Yes, but the skip buttons do nothing
YesNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Clean interface. No dark theme.
There's basically nothing here.
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LuminaryAndroid, iOS
Freemium: get exclusive shows for $8/mo
Yes, but not seeded from Apple Podcasts, and several prominent podcasts have removed themselves from the app
NoYes, on iOSYesYes, on iOSYesYes, 30s/15s
Yes, but not on a show-by-show basis
No
Yes, but when viewing in the player it is formatted terribly and there are no links
NoYesNoYesNoYesNoNoYesYesNoNo
Clean interface. Dark mode only available on iOS.
Made waves in the industry earlier this year by starting a bunch of exclusive shows and threatening the open nature of our publishing model.
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