Podcasts are a rapidly emerging medium for consuming content while you're doing something else. However, finding a podcast app with top-quality features wasn't exactly easy. I spent days researching the best podcast apps available for Android phones, and two names kept popping up: Castbox and Podbean.
Initially, I settled for Castbox. After that, I got curious and also installed (and used) Podbean months later. They've both been fantastic so far, with each offering unique features.
Along with that, this post would focus on comparing Castbox and Podbean to figure out the better app.
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Design and Interface
Both Castbox and Podbean have well-designed app interfaces. They are also somewhat similarly designed only with a few differences here and there.
First off, I love how both apps recommend top (read: popular) podcast channels immediately you launch them. While Castbox has its quick-access tab at the bottom of the app, Podbean has it's at the top.
I prefer the location of Castbox's quick-access tab, though. That is because, unlike Podbean, the tab at the bottom is easily accessible with the thumb. I often find myself using my other hand to navigate the quick-access tab because it's far away.
By default, both Castbox and Podbean have a white-colored dashboard. Interestingly though, they both support Dark mode, which is embedded in their Settings menu.
Compared to Podbean, Castbox has more theme customization options — Light, Dark, and Black. You can only toggle on/off Podbean's night mode.
When playing a podcast, Castbox notifies you of how many minutes you have left to complete the podcast in the notification tray. Podbean doesn't display a timecode, neither does it let you know how long have left to reach the end of podcasts you're playing.
Though both app's interfaces provide usability, I find Castbox more profound. Easily accessible quick navigation bar and customizable themes make Castbox a win in this round.
Like Castbox, Podbean also boasts of a large library of podcast channels. I also find the recommendation engine of both apps to be quite powerful too.
From the homepage, Podbean lets you discover a plethora of podcasts by navigating through categories or via the Top 100 section — here, the most popular podcasts people in your region listen to are recommended.
Castbox also lets you easily discover podcasts by searching through preset categories. You can browse through the app's Top Show section to find popular podcasts that users are listening. The Recommendation section contains podcasts randomly curated by Castbox's recommendation engine based on your listening history or what the app thinks you might find interesting.
The Recommendation section can be occasionally refreshed to discover new podcasts.
Searching for podcasts on both apps is also seamless and easy. I, however, really love Podbean's search function more than Castbox's. And I think you would too.
While Castbox only allows you to search by name/title of the podcast, you can filter your search on Podbean by Podcast or by Episode. That means even if you can't remember the name of a podcast, you can find it by searching for the name of an episode of the podcast.
Simply type in the name of the podcast or episode and toggle between the Podcast and Episode filter.
Both apps have awesome players that are no different from some of the best podcast apps out there. Podbean has a simple player with all the basic features (pause, play, rewind), but it isn't a full-fledged as Castbox's player.
By default, both the rewind and fast-forward buttons of the Podbean player skip playback by 30 seconds. Castbox, on the other hand, rewinds playback by 10 seconds and fast-forwards by 30 seconds.
Interestingly, Podbean lets you customize the seek periods of both buttons from the Settings menu. You can choose to reduce the 'Seek By' periods of the forward and rewind buttons to either 8 or 15 seconds or increase them to 45 or 60 seconds.
Both apps support the download of podcast episodes to your device for offline play. However, only Podbean lets you select a specific folder within your device's internal storage or SD card to save your downloaded podcast.
For Castbox, you cannot select specific folders to save downloaded podcast, but I like that it displays the sizes of each episode in their description. I find that useful as it gives an idea of how much storage space is needed to accommodate my podcast. Also, I get to know how much of my data plan episodes I listen to/download would consume.
While Podbean doesn't display episode sizes, it sports a unique 'Cellular Control' features that give you control over network connectivity. With Cellular Controls, you can choose to allow or disable podcast streaming and download over data. When toggled off, you will not be able to stream or download podcast episodes over cellular networks.
That is a brilliant management feature that allows users with limited internet control of their data plans.
Lastly, Castbox's player shows the cover images for every podcast episode you play. If you want to save mobile data, there's an option to turn it off if in the Mobile Data usage section of the app.
Podbean doesn't display cover images while playing episodes. What it displays instead is a generic profile image for the podcast you're listening to; I find this rather mundane.
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Want to sync the podcast you're listening to, across your other devices? Say Android, iOS, desktop, or web? Both Castbox and Podbean are awesome cross-platform podcast apps.
You can leave your phone at home and continue with whatever podcast you were listening to on your work PC. Both the Podbean and Castbox apps are compatible with iOS and Android devices. Additionally, they both have web support and are compatible with smart home and streaming devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Chromecast, etc.
I've tried the web version of both apps, and I was able to stream podcasts seamlessly. Podcasts I follow and subscribe to, as well as a history of episodes I've previously streamed, were synced with my account.
Both Castbox and Podbean get cross-platform compatibility right.
When I installed the Castbox app, it accurately detected my exact location and made podcast recommendations based on my region. For some weird reason, Podbean's default region is the United Kingdom, and podcast recommendation seems to be erratic.
I tried modifying the country and I discovered that Castbox supports more (29) countries than Podbean (17).
Quick Tip: If you cannot find your region in the Podbean app, I recommend that you choose Others.
A Tough Call
Design and UI aside, Podbean is just as good as Castbox — if not better. Podbean offers more customization options in terms of forward/rewind seek periods, storage location, and cellular control. Podbean's search filter is also more advanced than Castbox's. If you are all about aesthetics and usability, you will find Castbox really pleasing to use. For complex features and customization freedom, Podbean takes the crown.
Next up: There are great podcasts everywhere, but we've got a selection that will make you smarter. Check them out in the article below.