Recommend Me Something Other Than iTunes and the Apple Podcast App

So I like to listen to podcasts. A lot of podcasts. Some on my phone and some on my computer while I'm working.

iTunes used to provide an easy way to find and add new podcasts and a tolerable way to manage them. Then iTunes 11.1 was released and Apple decided to break everything that sort of worked with podcasts. Compounding the problem, iOS7 now requires the abomination that is the Apple Podcast app to even play podcasts on my phone.

So I'm now in the market for a new way to manage my podcasts, both on my computer (Window 7) and on my phone. Ideally, I'd like something that let me find and add new podcasts as easily as iTunes and that could sync between my phone and computer so I know what I've listened to and what I haven't.

What are some of the software and apps that the hivemind approves of?

Can't say for the computer side of things, but on the iPhone Downcast is what you want.

I'm partial to Pocket Casts, though Downcasts is pretty nice as well.

I just started with Downcast. It seems pretty good so far although I miss being able to set different preferences per podcast for how long to keep episodes.

The Zune - both hardware and software - is 110% perfect in its handling of podcasts.

I actually can't think of a way I could improve it, were I to try to design/develop a replacement.

I'm so sad it is discontinued. I'm scared to think of it dying.
/shudder

I don't know how iOS podcast apps work, but on Android they allow you to link them to an RSS reader (eg I can add podcast feeds to Feedly, then tell BeyondPod to sync/pull its feeds with/from Feedly.

Your RSS reader of choice might allow for some way to listen to feeds on the computer, I know Google Reader had a little audio player, maybe others do? I haven't tried myself. But either way, hopefully there's something useful in there.

Seriously, they borked the iOS Music app again? I had thought it was required in iOS 6 to use the separate Podcasts app, but was corrected and happily so. I went back to using the generic Music app for podcasts. The single-most important feature that I don't believe any other app--including Apple's Podcasts app--can compete with is indefinite resume.

When I get in the car in the morning, it'll have been several hours since I last played a podcast. I'll put my headphones in and click, and I'll pick up where I left off. Using any other app in this case would result in me starting some song, not a podcast. Unless iOS 7 dumps preferential treatment for its Music app, this is a deal-breaker.

muraii wrote:
Seriously, they borked the iOS Music app again? I had thought it was required in iOS 6 to use the separate Podcasts app, but was corrected and happily so. I went back to using the generic Music app for podcasts.

In iOS6 you needed the Apple Podcast app only if you wanted to get new episodes of podcasts and you didn't want to go through iTunes.

They changed that in iOS7. Now podcasts can only be played through the Podcast app. They literally stripped out the option under the Music app to access podcasts.

For iOS, Downcast has been a revelation for me. Highly recommend it.

It circumvents iTunes and automates downloads, but doesn't provide any sort of carry-over/syncing of listening progress to a computer. Not sure if such an app exists outside of iTunes for iOS...?

Pocket Casts, and I believe Downcast as well, can download and/or stream podcasts. And you can even switch from streaming to playing from an in-progress download on the fly if you want. You can also resume playing from the lock screen. Plus the subscriptions, per-subscription preferences, auto downloading of new podcasts, etc. I've tried the Apple Podcast app and it's really basic by comparison. I similarly don't like playing podcasts through the iOS Music app. A good dedicated app is where it's at for podcasts.

Pocket Casts just added cloud syncing of some sort, though I think it's just between devices. Desktop iTunes syncing sounds like a long shot.

Downcast is on OSX and iCloud is used to sync with iOS.

Instacast also has both iOS and Mac apps, and you can sync progress between those. I'm not aware of any iOS podcast apps with corresponding Windows desktop versions.

Foxua wrote:
For iOS, Downcast has been a revelation for me. Highly recommend it.

It circumvents iTunes and automates downloads, but doesn't provide any sort of carry-over/syncing of listening progress to a computer. Not sure if such an app exists outside of iTunes for iOS...?

How does the download automation work? Can I easily set it to only download when I'm on a WiFi network? Can I set it to only download the oldest episode I haven't listened to? Or to download the oldest five episodes at a time if I'm working my way through the backlist of a newly discovered podcast? (I'm currently showing about 3.5GB of miscellaneous podcasts in my podcasts folder. iTunes says that it's about 65 hours worth of listening -- I don't need to carry all that around with me, but I prefer downloaded podcasts instead of trying to stream them, since some places I listen have no WiFi and poor phone reception.)

How tricky is the setup -- say I want to add the GWJ Conference Call, and flag the most recent five episodes as unplayed, then download only the oldest of those. What's going to be involved?

Can it create a virtual playlist and hook into iOS so if I want to listen to podcasts while I'm on the treadmill using an app that only understands the concept of an iTunes playlist, can I do that?

Mr GT Chris wrote:
Downcast is on OSX and iCloud is used to sync with iOS.

Whoopsie. I guess I've shown my hand -- Windows user over here. But I guess that doesn't help OG.

Good to know if I ever make the full switch.

B Dog wrote:
Instacast also has both iOS and Mac apps, and you can sync progress between those. I'm not aware of any iOS podcast apps with corresponding Windows desktop versions.

Instacast WAS my favorite podcast app until the ios7 update. It's new interface is inefficient and hides necessary functions that used to be upfront behind menus. It's a definite step backward.

Katy wrote:
How does the download automation work? Can I easily set it to only download when I'm on a WiFi network?

Yes. You can also schedule refresh intervals, or even set it to download at specific locations.

Can I set it to only download the oldest episode I haven't listened to?

Yes.

Or to download the oldest five episodes at a time if I'm working my way through the backlist of a newly discovered podcast?

I think you can pick how many old episodes it retains (per podcast), but not sure about auto-downloading multiples at once.

How tricky is the setup -- say I want to add the GWJ Conference Call, and flag the most recent five episodes as unplayed, then download only the oldest of those. What's going to be involved?

I think you subscribe to the feed, then pick and choose what to download. You can also easily mark/unmark what you've played.

Can it create a virtual playlist and hook into iOS so if I want to listen to podcasts while I'm on the treadmill using an app that only understands the concept of an iTunes playlist, can I do that?

It does have a playlist creator that's pretty robust, but I don't think it exports the playlist for use with other apps.

OG_slinger wrote:
muraii wrote:
Seriously, they borked the iOS Music app again? I had thought it was required in iOS 6 to use the separate Podcasts app, but was corrected and happily so. I went back to using the generic Music app for podcasts.

In iOS6 you needed the Apple Podcast app only if you wanted to get new episodes of podcasts and you didn't want to go through iTunes.

They changed that in iOS7. Now podcasts can only be played through the Podcast app. They literally stripped out the option under the Music app to access podcasts.

Horrific. Sticking with iOS 6 for now.

EDIT: Does iOS still prefer the Music app over all others, or does it use whichever was the most-recent audio app when I click my headphones without selecting an app?

EDIT 2: I realize that iOS <= 6 remembered the lost-recent audio app, but not indefinitely. At some point, it forgets and opens Music by default. If podcasts are in Music, no biggy: I'll use Music and accept the other trade-offs. If iOS 7 doesn't forget like this, then I'll consider upgrading.

Downcast has been the best for me and I tried a bunch of them.

Downcast for all the reasons everyone else has already said.

I like Downcast a lot, but I'm a pretty basic user. I just want to listen to the most recent episode of my podcasts and occasionally download a specific episode of others. It works great for that. I can't answer the more complicated questions.

iTunes, grrraaaaarrrrgh.

I hadn't updated to iOS 7 yet, and had been happily using iTunes/playlists and the music app... but iTunes seems to have lost its mind completely -- I have one podcast which randomly downloads the latest episode (and clears out old episodes) every time iTunes starts, and another where my smart playlist, which is supposed to be selecting things by name... doesn't.

So I shall see what Downcast can do for me.

This does not bode well for my sanity which is already depreciated (deprecated (deficient (detrimental))).

On further reflection, those are my two newest subscribed podcasts, and I think something is screwed up with how the podcast settings are working. Or something.

It's a little hard to tell because there is no indication whatsoever if my podcast settings are for an individual podcast or for all of them, because now you have to go through hoops to find the individual podcast settings menu (you can't do it from list view any more, apparently.)

[Possibly misinformed but probably partially valid screed against iTunes/iOS 7/Podcasts/people redacted.]

I've used PocketCasts for a long time. I'm not crazy about the iOS 7 update interface changes, but mainly just because I can't figure out where things are :). I listen to podcasts a ton and it doesn't let me down.

The iOS 7 update of PocketCasts is decent, but there are some bugs regarding the display of whether something is downloaded. Half the time it says that something I downloaded and listened to is not downloaded, and I have to hit the "download" button again and either that fixes things immediately or I then need to cancel the download. Not sure what gets podcsasts into that state. I find I'm using the Unplayed list a lot to find episodes I haven't listened to. I don't like that they dropped the subtext that says how many are downloaded and unplayed on the main tiled icon screen.

Dragging my heels on iOS 7 but sharing one Apple ID across two iTunes instances has become just crazy enough that using iTunes to sync podcasts is over for me.

Has anything changed substantively since the thread trailed off to recommend between Downcast and Pocket Casts? The latter's screenshots look nicer, but it requires iOS 7. I like where iOS 6 is on my 4S but might upgrade if Pocket Casts is that much better.

I know: so much hand-wringing over an inexpensive something to play free content.

I went with Downcast and it's been pretty much OK, and vastly better than Apple's Podcast app overall. I wish I could tweak settings more for specific podcasts though. Podcasts management on iTunes is still slightly better in that respect.

I tried, Instacast, Pocket Casts and Downcast, and the latter is the most flexible (and fiddly) of the bunch. It looks a bit fugly, but it works better than the others. Waiting with bated breath for overcast.fm, the upcoming podcatcher from Marco Arment.

il dottore wrote:
I tried, Instacast, Pocket Casts and Downcast, and the latter is the most flexible (and fiddly) of the bunch. It looks a bit fugly, but it works better than the others. Waiting with bated breath for overcast.fm, the upcoming podcatcher from Marco Arment.

This. Can't wait to see what Marco comes up with.

He's expressed many of the concerns that others have about existing options (e.g., a bit finicky, a bit ugly, no one option with all the features you might want), so I'm hoping Overcast nails it.