The podcast industry is going through a massive change. Both Apple and Google have ramped up their podcast offerings to compete with the popular Podcast apps. Apple also separated the podcast section from iTunes and packed a native one on macOS.
Compared to Spotify, Apple and Google offer pretty basic podcast products. They are hardly worth talking about. So what are the alternatives? Pocket Casts and Overcast. Both are excellent podcast apps that are loaded with features.
In this post, we are going to compare them based on UI, cross-platform support, listening experience, add-ons, price, and more.
Pocket Casts comes out as the obvious winner in this department. The app is available on iOS, Android, Windows, Web, and macOS. Overcast is Apple-centric and only works with iOS, Mac, and Apple Watch.
Note: This post will be focused on the iOS app experience.
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Pocket Casts has nailed this one. The company is using the standard four bottom tabs to navigate. It's minimal, clean looking, and gets the job done.
The user experience of Pocket Casts works for me. It takes the most prominent color form the podcast episode that you plan to listen and paints the playback interface accordingly. All the necessary options are right up there where they need to be. Within a few minutes of setup, I was ready to listen to my favorite podcasts. That's not something I observe with other apps.
Overcast is going with unusual UI decisions. The major options, such as adding a new podcast, creating a playlist, and download buttons are at the top. That's fine but it does get a bit challenging to access them on a phone with 6-inch display.
Overcast is using a different style of fonts by default — you can change them from settings in Settings. I feel that breaks the consistency with other iOS apps.
I feel Overcast's UI looks a bit dated compared to Pocket Casts and is due for an overhaul.
You will see the differences between a built-in app and a third-party one more clearly once you start using a few apps. However, you don't need to do that for we've already covered that part.
The discovery function in Pocket Casts is amazing and quite easy to use. It may appear to you as a store for podcasts. The Auto Downloads feature works well if you wish to listen to podcasts episodes uninterruptedly. Otherwise, streaming episodes on mobile data while driving or traveling can be a challenge.
There are slides with featured podcasts, different sections, categories, most popular list, and finally content filter by countries. Finding a relevant clip won't be hard for you.
With filters, you can see the starred podcasts, in progress clips, and make custom filters.
Pocket Casts offers a detailed stats section. That's where you can see the number of minutes you have listened to a podcast, amount of time saved by trim sound function (more on that later), and more. Those numbers are fine, now only if Pocket Casts offered viewing that data in different graphs.
Pocket Casts also supports themes, app icons, and Siri shortcuts. I particularly like the Sleep Timer feature for it turns off after a specified time or when an episode gets over. That helps to save some precious battery life and mobile/Wi-Fi data.
Meanwhile, Overcasts is all about options. You can change a theme, app fonts, forward/backward duration, and more.
Overcasts sorts out podcasts in a vertical list of categories. While playing a podcast, the app shows a nice animation is the play/pause button. I like that. Also, it remembers podcast specific settings such as voice boost, smart speed, download new episodes, and others.
Overcast does silence trimming better than Pocket Casts, which employs abrupt cuts. These features are not useful if the listening experience is not par with other apps. So let's talk about that.
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Pocket Casts has added few time-saving options. You can tune up the speed, trim silence voices, and boost volume from the playback settings.
You can also add a sleep timer of five minutes to the end of an episode. From podcast settings, one can set the timer to skip a few seconds of the podcast. It's useful to skip unnecessary ads on the front.
The app also lets you forward/backward clip with one tap. You can customize that from the settings menu.
Overcasts lets you add volume boost, add sleep timer, change playback speed, and see the timeline of the podcast from the listening UI. You can also jump to a particular chapter in a podcast's episode.
Overcast matches up with Pocket Casts in terms of listening experience.
It's good to see that both the apps have adopted one-time payment for their offerings. Pocket Casts costs $3.99 on iOS, and the Mac/Windows version will set you back by $10. You can opt for a 14-day trial for a desktop version. Its one-time payment but you will need to pay separately for every platform.
You can use Overcast for free, but it comes bearing ads. To remove that, one can pay $4.99 for a lifetime version.
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Listen to Podcasts in Style
Pocket Casts and Overcast provide a tone of features for every podcast listener — beginner or expert. Pocket Casts edges out Overcast in terms of looks, app experience, and features. Overcast has support for Apple Watch, and it's perfect for those living in Apple ecosystem.
Pocket Casts should be your pick if you care about the cross-platform availability and syncing your listening activities across devices. The online podcast player can be a good way to let your phone charge and listen to your favorite episodes while you work or browse the web.
Overcast also has quite a following, and if you don't mind ads, then you can try it out.
Next Up: Castbox is also a capable offering on iOS. Read the post below to see how it stacks up against Pocket Casts.