Podcasts have been around in one form or another since the early days of the internet when it was known as “audioblogging.” The medium really took off with the introduction of two things, broadband internet, and the iPod (and other portable digital media players), and you can now find podcasts on almost any subject in existence so you can listen to opinions and facts galore.
The next piece of the recipe was wireless data plans fast enough to stream your favorite podcasts into your device, from anywhere with a signal. We all love our talk shows, so what better way to enjoy them than while doing other things, making the daily commute bearable by educating ourselves on a myriad of topics.
The thing is, unless you’re on an unlimited data plan (and we mean really unlimited, not just “we throttle after X”), you can burn through your precious data with all that podcast listening. Downloading your podcasts manually is a long, boring task, especially if you listen to multiple shows. Wouldn’t it be better to use an app that will automatically download new episodes as they get uploaded?
We’ll talk you through the best podcast apps on both Android and iOS.
How to automatically download your podcasts
Okay, if you’re on a device running iOS, Apple’s own Podcasts app is all you really need. Yes, the UI isn’t the best, but it’s free, it has over one million podcasts, and over half of all podcast consumption happens inside it. It’s also the source of the content inside many other podcast apps, so why wouldn’t you use the original?
It syncs with your Apple accounts so you have seamless transitions between all your Apple devices, and it easily lets you set your favorite podcasts to automatically download.
- Search for a show in the Apple Podcasts app
- Tap or click on its name to see the information page
- Tap or click on Subscribe and all new episodes will automatically download to your device
You won’t even have to manually manage your device storage, as the Podcasts app will automatically delete episodes 24 hours after you’ve finished listening to them. Nice.
If you’re on Android, you could use Google’s own Podcasts app, which comes with benefits like easily adding podcasts to your queue from Google Search, but if you want to dive deeper, we prefer Pocket Casts. Sure, it’s $0.99 a month, or $9.99 a year, which some people may be loathed to pay, but it comes with some amazing features. It’s smooth to navigate around, you get stats on your playback use, and a whole host of playback tweaks you won’t find on free players, like speed controls, a volume booster, and auto-cut for any dead air moments in an episode.
It also has the ability to auto-download your episodes in advance, so you don’t have to worry about your data use when out and about. Here’s how:
- Search or browse for a podcast
- Tap on the + or Subscribe button to get episodes auto-downloading when they get uploaded
Pocket Casts keeps all your downloaded podcast episodes until your device runs out of space, but you can delete episodes manually if you want to free up some space.
If you’re an occasional listener, you can listen from the podcast’s own site or even from Google Search in some cases, but if you’re going to listen to any regularly, we really do recommend using an app – it’s just easier to keep track of things.