Podcasting is a relatively new form of media that is disrupting more traditional forms of media such as radio talk shows. The success of Serial suddenly brought this somewhat obscure medium to the forefront and now people around the world seem to be taking it seriously enough.
Since podcasts aren't subject to the same types of restrictions present with a medium like radio, creators have a lot more freedom in terms of the type of content they can create and the length of the podcast.
Long-form podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. With this format, hosts talk at length about a topic or have in-depth interviews. This allows for more meaningful discussions and gives listeners the full story.
Podcasts are also easily accessible over the web and via various apps. A problem sometimes arises however with syncing your podcasts across various devices. In order to achieve this, a cross-platform podcast app is needed.
Say you have an iOS device and an Android device. Without a cross-platform app, if you follow a podcast on your iOS podcast app, you'll have to add it to your Android app. You also won't be able to sync the listening progress of episodes across devices. This can be quite the hassle.
Luckily there are some apps that have paid attention to this and will provide some relief. Here is our top 4 pick for the best cross-platform apps.
Pocket Casts offers a variety of features which are aimed at facilitating ease of use. You can adjust the playback speed with Pocket Casts, and apply filters to display episodes based on parameters such as download status and release date.
Cloud syncing is also available. With Pocket Casts, episode progress, subscriptions and filters are saved to the cloud.
This is especially useful for persons who use multiple devices. For example, if you start streaming your favorite podcast on your phone during the day, you can easily pick back up right where you left off later on in the day on another device like your laptop.
Much like with Pocket Casts, iTunes allows you to sync subscriptions and playback information across devices, which means that you can start listening to a podcast episode on one device, and resume listening, where you left off, on the other. Playback speed can also be adjusted.
While iTunes is free to download, this doesn't necessarily set it apart from Pocket Casts. There is no iTunes Android app or web app. Apps are limited to Mac OS, Windows and iOS.
Stitcher offers apps for Android, iOS and the web. It is capable of syncing your subscriptions and playback information.
What makes Stitcher stand out is its original content. Some episodes from Stitchers shows are free, but premium content is also available for premium subscribers.
Stitcher original podcasts include LeVar Burton Reads and Wolverine: The Long Night. LeVar Burton Reads is centered around the Star Trek actor reading short fiction stories. Wolverine: The Long Night is a scripted podcast from Marvel which follows a string of mysterious deaths.
There are Castbox apps for iOS, Android, Android Auto, Web, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Podcasts can be synced across the supported platforms, allowing for resumption of a paused podcast on different devices.
What makes Castbox special is the way it allows users to search for content. It uses Natural Language Processing to transcribe audio files, thus allowing for more exact search results as compared to carrying out searches based on keywords and tags. Essentially your searches will return results based on words actually used within podcasts.
Castbox even goes an extra step and allows content creators to host their own podcasts as well.
If you are an Apple Junkie, then iTunes will work fine for you. However, if you have an Android device, you'll be in trouble. Using an app like Castbox is a great solution for Android and for class-platform use in gerenral.
The truth is that Pocket Casts, Stitcher and Castbox will give you a broader cross-platform experience and allow for syncing your subscriptions. Each app has its benefits. Pocket Casts allows for the detailed syncing of a lot of parameters such as filters across devices, Stitcher has original content and Castbox allows you to host your own podcasts.
Depending on what you value more, you may want to choose one app over another. Take these things into consideration and choose the app that works best for you.