It’s a competitive, dog-eat-dog world out there and, with Google products, very much about survival of the fittest. The search giant has often been quick to put a failing service out to pasture, even ones they put a great deal of effort into promoting; Google Buzz and Google Wave are both recent examples. In a recent cull, the Google Listen app has now cast its very last pod.
While its demise doesn’t quite warrant the need for a support helpline to get users over their loss, here at Android.AppStorm we thought we might step in to help, kind of like a friendly shoulder to cry on. This article is for you, dear Google Listen user. We would like to attempt to open your eyes and reassure you that there are more fish in the sea… and this round up of podcasting apps are those very fish.
OneCast is a beautiful and extremely easy to use podcast manager. Of all these tested apps, it was also one of the fastest to find searched-for podcasts. For testing purposes, there are one or two not-particularly-well-known podcasts I always search for initially, and OneCast found both immediately.
The actual ‘player’ is on the simple side, but it’s easy to navigate to via icons at the top of every page. If you want something basic, perhaps you are the occasional listener rather than a dedicated podcast enthusiast, OneCast is ideal. It’s neat, looks good and is simple to use. It lacks some of the features of other players, but it’s a great app to explore if you’re relatively new to podcast listening.
Podcast HD’s strong point is its search tool. There are dozens and dozens of categories to check out, from Arts through to Technology, and you can even access video blogs on YouTube. It adds some functionality in that you can bookmark your favourite shows for quicker access to new podcasts and all downloads are listed under a dedicated section.
The app also has a number of regional settings, so it’s ideal for finding new content from a variety of sources. Podcast HD doesn’t include much in the way of enhanced features, so I would have to suggest this for beginners and users looking for new content. However, it’s certainly one of the better free apps available.
The simply-titled Podcast Player is very different to others listed here in that it doesn’t allow you to search and find online podcasts. Instead, you download content elsewhere and then play it through the app. The app’s main feature is the ability to skip forward and backward in customisable bursts — so if you’re looking for a specific moment in a lengthy podcast, Podcast Player can help you find it quickly and accurately.
While this app is very different to the others, its minimalist design and effective skipping functionality has already found fans in the Google Play Store. It’s not going to suit all Android users, but if you only like particular sections of a longer podcast, this is ideal.
Doggcatcher is thought of by many as the king of podcast apps on Android. Downloaded by many thousands of paying users, it has been reviewed more than 6,000 times on the Google Play Store and has an average score of 4.5/5. It is rammed with functionality and even lets you import your feeds from Google Listen.
It includes advanced search functionality, impressive user interface, recommendations, variable speed playback and automatic actions that download your favourite podcasts when they publish. There is no free or trial version to try out, but if you’re looking for the cream of the podcasting crop, Doggcatcher is as good as any other.
Podkicker Pro is another podcasting app which is very user friendly. The layout is simple, with large tabs at the bottom for channels, new, player and downloads. You can subscribe to a new podcast by either entering the feed URL or searching their database of more than 100,000 different podcasts.
The free version comes with plenty of functionality- more than enough to give you a feel for the app. However, the Pro version ramps it up with loads more features including automatic downloads, lockscreen controls, car mode and swipe navigation.
Stitcher Radio is one of the most popular podcasting apps available in the Google Play Store. The interesting thing about the service is that it is different things to different people. Many view it as a dedicated live radio player but, with its podcasting functionality, it offers far more than that.
The apps primary focus would seem to be customising user experience. You can ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ broadcasts so your use of the app is personalised further. Additionally, you can essentially ‘stitch’ your favourite content together to create a veritable playlist of your favourite shows. This feature offers something really different. The app is also free, so it’s well worth checking out even if you use other services.
PodTrapper Podcast Manager is a premium service, so expect all the bells and whistles you get with other popular services: automated management, playlist support and a huge range of searchable podcasts. I really liked the layout of the app, but felt that it looked incredibly dated compared to other options. It hasn’t been updated since February 2011 which is a real shame; it would appear to be all but forgotten by the developer.
One thing it can provide, though, is a trial version. While you have to download this from the developers’ own website, it will give you a good overview of features and functionalities. If you’re generally in the market for a stable new podcast service, do check out the trial — but be warned that the UI needs a refresh.
Beyond Podcast is my own podcast manager of choice. It offers advanced management features such as automated download and deletion, advanced file management and categorisation, commercial skipping, audio book support, extensive search and even a cool homescreen widget.
The UI is superb; it’s smooth and very easy to navigate. You can fully customise the way it updates and stores your selected content and is incredibly user-friendly. If that wasn’t enough, you can also get a tablet version of the app. It is also free to download and comes with an initial seven day trial.
RatPoison is a free (and ad-free) podcast player that supports RSS and YouTube feeds. The UI is in a somewhat quirky ‘graffiti’ style, but offers a number of cool features that other freebies do not, including automated downloading and superb search functionality.
If the hand-drawn style of the app doesn’t put you off, it’s definitely an app I’d recommend trying out. It’s easy to use, includes no awful adverts and provides some solid functionality. It’s certainly not in premium league, but for a free app it’s excellent.
We conclude this round up of great podcast managers with the best-looking of the bunch. Pocket Casts is simply gorgeous and boasts a stunning UI that is both user-friendly and simple to navigate. It’s not all about looks either — it offers all the customisability and functionality (and more!) of top apps like BeyondPod and Doggcatcher.
It doesn’t have a free version or even a trial, but with nearly 3,000 Android users rating the app 4.6/5.0 in the Google Play Store, it’s an app you can buy with confidence. If any app was to turn my head from BeyondPod, this would be it… I’m very tempted.
So there we have it, a comforting selection of friendly podcast apps that should provide a few alternatives to Google Listen. If you want a freebie, definitely try out Stitcher Radio first, it’s certainly the best podcast app you never have to pay for. If, however, your experience with Google Listen has made you realise you’d be willing to pay for a good service, then you have a decision to make. Doggcatcher, BeyondPod and Pocket Casts are all utterly superb apps and have great Google Play Store ratings. Be sure to try a few out. Happy podcasting!