Podcasts have freed us from the AM/FM hegemony of decades past. These days you can find podcasts to fit every niche, whether you're in the mood to listen to pet psychics communing with animals, grown men playing a round of Dungeons and Dragons, or even our own editors commenting on tech news in our Play This! podcast.
Podcasts are also great because their on-demand nature works around our lives. We can stop and start them as we please--and thanks to our smartphones, they can follow us wherever we roam. Here is a roundup of some of the best "podcatching" apps for Android users on the go.
BeyondPod offers a clean, stylish design and facilitates fast downloading and refreshing. The app allows you to mix and match playlists with episodes from different shows, easily. You can also import RSS feeds from the soon-to-be-departed Google Reader, though the interface is not great. (Use something like Feedly for your on-the-go RSS content.)
DoggCatcher almost offers too many options. If minimalism is your thing, this is not the podcatching app for you. If, on the other hand, you're willing to spend a little time to work your way around all of its bells and whistles and buzzers and foghorns, you'll find a robust and capable podcatcher.
OneCast offers a bare-bones design and an easy-to-use discovery mechanism for finding new podcasts. On the downside, this app is slow to refresh, and the visual layout is clunky. Annoyingly, OneCast does not allow you to create a curated playlist of various episodes, which is awful for car trips when you want to stay hands-free over an extended period of time.
Doubletwist is one of the sleekest podcatching apps you can download. It has all the functions you want and some you didn't know you needed, such as an equalizer. The design also integrates into your OS, so the controls are visible on your open security screen--a huge innovation, since other apps require you to go through the extra step of logging in to your phone just to play or pause once your handset has gone to sleep.
TuneIn Radio is built around live streaming radio from around the world, but it also includes a basic podcatcher on both the Lite and Pro versions (the Pro version allows you to pause and rewind live radio). As a podcatcher, TuneIn works well enough. It seems unable to create playlists, and it doesn't save your place in the podcast if you toggle off. For most people, though, those shortcomings will never be an issue. Most podfans will just be happy that it offers easy searching for podcasts and refreshes quickly.
Specifically tailored for podcast "power-users" according to its Play store description, MyPod is unfortunately a mess to navigate. This software has a challenging learning curve, but it can offer a lot of functionality once you get the hang of it. The free version allows for only ten feeds and has ads, while the Pro version supports unlimited feeds and is ad-free. Test-drive the free version first to see if it's for you.
A clean, mean podcatcher, Podkicker is clutter-free from a design standpoint. Unfortunately, it's also somewhat clunky and hard to figure out. For example, when subscribing to a new feed, you have to refresh your channel list--and a pop-up window comes up to tell you that it is indeed refreshing. Podkicker is not without its minimalist charm, but it feels as if it's still a few updates away from becoming a favorite.
Pocket Casts is probably the best podcatcher available on Android. It strikes a brilliant balance between design and functionality. The navigation is intuitive from the get-go, and everything pretty much works as it should. This app really has no drawbacks. If you spend a lot of time with podcasts on your Android phone or tablet, this app is the one to download.