Pocket Casts Review: Pocket Casts 7 Changed the Game
If you follow this website regularly, you know that I love podcasts. Over the past few years, I have tested many different podcast apps to find out which one offers the best overall experience. Some of them were pretty bad while some like Castro 3 impressed me a lot. However, none of them has stuck around with me as long as Pocket Casts. Apart from all its awesome features, which we will get into in this article, the biggest reason I have stuck with Pocket Casts is its cross-platform availability and sync feature. Still, it was not my favorite app to use on iPhone. But all that changed with the release of version 7 which brings a complete overhaul to the UI of the app. The best part is that the upgrade was completely free for users who had already paid for the app. In our Pocket Casts review, we are going to take a detailed look at Pocket Casts 7 and see how it brings a breath of fresh air to its design:
Pocket Casts 7 Review: The New UI
Let’s start with the most obvious changes coming with Pocket Casts and that’s the brand new user interface which makes this app feel more native to iOS. The Android-inspired side panel is gone and the iOS-inspired bottom navigation tab bar is in. I myself had no problem with the earlier design as I am used to its Android app. Still, the app felt a little too foreign on iOS. Thankfully, Pocket Casts 7 address that problem with a brand new design which makes it feel more at home. There are four different tab buttons at the bottom which are Podcasts, Filters, Discover, and Profile.
People who have used Pocket Casts in the past will be extremely familiar with tabs. For those who are not familiar with the app, the Podcasts tab houses all your subscription, while the filters tab is for your playlists. The Discover tab, well, helps you discover new podcasts while the profile tab hosts all the stats and settings. We will take a deep dive into each of the tabs. For now, know that the app’s new user interface not only looks exquisite but also makes it easier to understand and use for the longtime iOS users.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: The New Podcasts Tab
The new Podcasts tab has received a lot of love with version 7 and now offers an excellent experience. It offers a lot more control to users . Users can hit the three-dot menu at the top right to get access to different controls. You can sort podcasts by name, episode release date, or date added. You can change the episode layout between grid and column view, and you can choose to view the badge count either for all unfinished episodes or only the latest episodes. As always, you can disable the badge count if you want to.
My favorite home screen arrangement for the Podcasts tab is;
Sort by episode release date
Layout is column
Show badges for only latest episode.
This way, the podcasts with new episodes automatically rise to the top. Also, I only keep the badge for new episodes as I don’t want to be overwhelmed if I have missed two-many episodes for a single podcast. I also use the dark mode that makes the app look even cooler.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: Filters Tab
The Filters tab in Pocket Casts 7 is great for creating your own playlists. This is a feature that has existed in Pocket Casts since the start and I love it. You can create new filters if you want to, however, I just used the pre-built ones as they are enough for me. The pre-built filters include New Releases, In Progress, Starred and Downloaded. It’s a great place to listen to episodes that you want to. The best part about this filters is that you can add Siri commands using Siri Shortcuts. This allows me to play my favorite podcasts just with my voice. To add a Siri Shortcut you first tap on a filter and then on the three-dot menu at the top-right. Now, tap on Filter Options and Create Siri Shortcut. From there you just add your voice command and you are good to go.
Pocket Casts Review: Discover Tab
Pocket Casts has always offered the best discovery options out of all the podcast players in my opinion. With Pocket Casts 7, the feature has been improved upon even more. Not only the app uses your listening data to recommend a podcast to you but now it also showcases human curated podcasts for a better experience. Well, at least the company said that in its Pocket Casts 7 press-release. However, is it really any better or not? I can’t say. It will take me some more months to give you a complete opinion on that. I can, however, say that it’s not worse than before and that’s a good thing as there was nothing bad about Pocket Casts’ discover feature to begin with.
Pocket Casts Review: Profile Tab
The Profile Tab will be your least used tab once you have set the app as per your liking. I do love seeing my listening stats which can be found inside the “All Stats” tab. I love how Pocket Casts displays the total time I have spent listening to podcasts, and how much time have I saved using its different features. There’s also a setting cog at the top which will help you manage the universal settings for the app. By the way, if you love the dark mode, it can be found here under the Appearance settings. Here, you can also choose a different app icon if you want to. I love the default one so I don’t use this option.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: The Playback Features
Pocket Casts has always offered one of the best playback features set you can find in any podcast player on the market. With version 7, they are displayed in a more organized and iOS-esque manner. Just like the home screen, all the features of the playback screen are displayed as a simple bar along the bottom. From left to right these buttons will show you the show notes, apply the playback effects, connect to AirPlay devices, mark the episode as starred, and set the sleep timer. It’s much easier to use these controls than the swiping gestures that was a part of the earlier versions of Pocket Casts.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: The New Features
Apart from the incredible user interface overhaul, Pocket Casts 7 also introduced a number of new and excellent features. In this section, we will take a look at all the new features that came with Pocket Casts 7:
1. Play Without Subscribing
This is a feature that I was waiting for since I got into podcasts. I just hated that I had to subscribe to a podcast if I wanted to listen to an episode. That made testing new podcasts a chore as I had to first subscribe to a podcast, listen to one or two episode, and then unsubscribe it if I didn’t like it. Pocket Casts 7 makes this process a breeze as users can now play any episode of any podcast without having to subscribe it. This makes it much easier to check out new podcasts.
2. Episode Search
This is my most favorite feature of Pocket Casts 7. Now, users can search for specific episodes inside a podcast. This one has been a game changer for me. I can’t explain how much time I have wasted in the past scrolling through endless lists of episodes just to find the one I am looking for. This feature will help you find the episode you are looking for in seconds. To use this feature, tap on a podcast and then tap on the search bar to enter your query. The best part is that not only the search feature looks at the title but also at show notes. In my testing, this feature worked really well and has already saved me a ton of time.
3. Up Next Syncing
As I told you before, Pocket Casts is great for syncing your progress across devices. With Pocket Casts 7, the service will now be able to sync not only your play status but also the episodes that you have on queue.
4. AirPlay 2 and Siri Shortcuts Support
Pocket Casts 7 also brings support for the new AirPlay 2 standards and Siri Shortcuts. It means no delay while casting your media and the ability to create hot triggers with Siri to play your favorite podcasts.
5. Streaming playback effects
Another great feature coming with version 7 is the app’s ability to use playback effects even on the podcasts you are streaming. Previously, you had to download the episodes if you wanted to use the audio effects (such as trim silence, speed, and volume booster), however, you can use these effects will streaming podcasts too.
6. Apple Watch App Improvements
Pocket Casts 7 also improves on its already great Apple Watch app. Now, it allows users to control volume using the Digital Crown, adjust playback effects write from the Apple Watch app, and more.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: A Brief Discussion About User Experience
By now you know that when it comes to features and looks, there are very few if any podcast player which can go head to head with Pocket Casts 7. But I also wanted to talk about how it feels to just the app. If you want the TLDR version, it’s great. I mean the app just seems to dissolve from your view and feels like a portal to the world of your favorite podcasts. The dark mode looks great, especially on the newer OLED iPhones and it's also good for battery life.
For me, Pocket Casts work because of a combination of things. First of all, it’s easy to use and I love its user interface. Secondly, I love its discover feature which is the best in business and has helped me discover some of the most beloved podcast of mine. I also love the playback controls as they allow me to save time. The best part is that audio doesn’t feel distorted at all. In fact, the audio here sounds better than most other podcast players. Finally, its cross-platform availability and sync feature is something that I cannot live without.
As a user, even if you don’t care about its features or the looks, Pocket Casts will be a joy to use and that’s probably the best thing I can say about the app.
Pocket Casts 7 Review: A Discussion About the Pricing
Before we end our review, I would like to have a discussion about Pocket Casts pricing. I purchased Pocket Casts back in 2016 for $3.99. After that, I haven’t spent a penny on this app and it still works great and receives constant updates. Even an update as big as version 7 didn’t cost me anything which is something very hard to find in this business.
Most other apps have taken the subscription route including Castro 3 and Overcast which are the other two big players in this market while some others charge you an upgrade price whenever a new big version is released. Now, that’s not to say I am against these pricing strategies. In fact, I am not. I love to support developers as I want my favorite apps to stick around for decades. That said, it does feel great to own an app which is as awesome as Pocket Casts and doesn’t feel a burden on my wallet. In fact, sometimes I feel a bit guilty about using this app as I feel I haven’t paid enough to developers.
I mean, they don’t even charge for the sync feature that they provide. All you need to buy are the apps for different platforms and you are done. Pocket Casts is also the only good podcast player app which comes with desktop apps (macOS, Windows, and Web) and syncs your progress across all these devices. You pay a one-time fee for your apps which are $3.99 for the iOS app, $3.99 for Android, and $10 for the desktop apps. Whichever two you buy, your progress will sync across devices without any further subscription.
Pocket Casts Review: Final Thoughts
Pocket Casts is a great podcast player app. It looks good, is packed with features, and is available on multiple platforms. It even syncs your progress and queue across devices. I am using this app since 2016 on my iPhone and I haven’t switched from it even after testing out a dozen other podcast player apps. Castro 3 did entice me a lot with its awesome triaging features, however, Pocket Casts features and pricing just makes it impossible for me to let go of the app. If you have never tested this app before, I highly suggest that you buy it from App Store. Trust me, it will be one of the best app purchases you would have made.
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