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Smartphones & gadgets

Best ways to listen to podcasts on your iPhone

Music streaming apps are a dime a dozen. Open your App Store on your iPhone and you’ll find a ton of different music-related apps to choose from.

As with anything, though, not all music apps are created alike. Some require a pricey subscription to listen to your favorite tunes, while others have a limited catalog to choose from or force you to listen to intrusive ads to make revenue. If you’re looking for a good music app, here are the best free sites and apps to stream music.

The same goes for podcast apps, too. Podcasts are a great way to get content based on your interests, but it’s not always easy to find the right platform for your needs. If you’re an iPhone user looking for the best podcast app, check out the recommendations below. These apps are the best way to listen to your favorite true crime, news and even Kim’s podcasts on your iPhone.

1. Apple Podcasts

Apple Podcasts is the world’s largest platform for podcast discovery and listening. It’s native to your iPhone, too, which makes it an obvious choice for downloading and listening to podcasts on your device.

The sheer number of shows on this platform helps keep it the top choice for Apple fans. There are over a million different shows to choose from, including Kim’s podcasts. You’ll also find everything from true crime options like My Favorite Murder to comedy, improv, beauty, history shows and everything in between.

Plus, Apple Podcasts is widely available. It’s offered in 175 countries and regions and has content in more than 100 languages.

Because it’s built for iPhone users, this app is generally pretty seamless, from download to the listening experience. It’s also got a huge cache of content, and the navigation issues aren’t really a dealbreaker for most people. Plus, the basic playlist management isn’t overcomplicated or difficult to learn. It’s user-friendly, whether you’re new to podcasts or a seasoned vet.

You won’t have to set up a new account to use it, either. Your Apple ID is what’s used for your Apple Podcasts account, so anyone who has already set up their iPhone (and that’s anyone downloading an app) should be able to access the content in this platform without having to go through long account creation and sign-up.

Syncing also works well with Apple Podcasts. If you sync your podcast library, you can easily listen to the podcast episodes downloaded on your phone from any of your Apple devices: Apple TV, your Mac or Macbook or any other Apple device that supports the app.

It includes the ability to playback audio at 1.5x or 2x. That makes it simple to switch chapters or fast forward through dead show time or ads.

It’s also easy to discover new content in the Apple Podcasts app via the recommended shows featured in each category. Plus, you can create “Stations” in the built-in library to group your favorite podcasts by genre, subject matter or any other metric you want to use. You can even group them by morning shows or other tags that fit.

Related: Tap or click here to see our comparison of services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+

2. Spotify

Spotify is one of the most popular streaming music apps available. This music app offers both free and paid subscriptions, and if you’re already a paying Spotify Premium subscriber, you have a built-in podcast app via your Spotify account.

That’s right; if you’re already a Spotify music subscriber, you may find that the best way for you to stream podcasts is through the Spotify app. After all, you already know how to navigate that app for music — and it’s just as simple to navigate it for podcasts.

That’s not the only perk of using this app to listen to podcasts. In recent years, Spotify has focused on making podcasts more central to its apps, expanding it from a streaming music service to a streaming content service instead. It also negotiated exclusive deals with production companies and bought a few podcast hosting companies, too — including Gimlet Media, Anchor, Parcast, and most recently The Ringer.

You’ll also get access to over a million shows with Spotify. There is always new content being added to this app, with over 300,000 new podcast shows added in 2020 alone. That’s a huge cache of content.

There are other features that are unique to Spotify, too. If you use Spotify to stream your podcasts, you can:

  • Get recommended and featured podcasts and shows
  • Have the option to save podcasts and shows you like. New episodes then automatically save
  • Download your shows to listen offline
  • Get access to episodes with feature videos

Another awesome feature is the recommended editorial podcast playlists. Spotify added this feature in mid-2020, and it showcases the latest and greatest podcast content as recommended by Spotify’s editors.

You can use this feature to discover new content, find the shows people are buzzing about or use it to set up your preferences. It’s a great way to discover new content or podcasters based on your interests.

There’s also the Best Podcasts of the Week feature, Spotify’s roundup of the week’s top podcast episodes. These roundups include podcasts on everything from news and comedy to true crime and sports. These lists are updated every Tuesday. 

You will have to download the Spotify app from the App Store on your phone and create a new Spotify account if you aren’t already a subscriber, though. But if you’re already a Spotify user, it’s a great option. You’ll get access to the shows you’re looking for and you can set up your preferences just like you can with music or dig around to discover new content or podcasters.

Related: 9 streaming service pro tips to save money

3. Overcast

Have you heard of Overcast? This third-party podcast app offers both free and premium subscriptions and is another solid option for listening to your favorite podcasts and discovering new content. The process for recommending content on this platform is a little different from other platforms — and that’s what makes it a great option for discovering new content.

Rather than featuring content chosen by human curation or editorial selections, Overcast relies on user recommendations. It’s a bit like crowdsourcing the best content in the platform, with users recommending episodes or shows by pressing the app’s start button.

Once a podcast or episode gains enough traction with listeners, it will be shown in the Add Podcast screen, which features the top-recommended podcasts recently for each category. This makes it simple to figure out what other users think is the best content.

Even cooler? This app gives you the ability to export your playlists in OPML from Overcast to another podcasting client. That means you can use Overcast to discover new user-recommended content and then pull it over to another podcast platform if you want to.

You can share content from Overcast in other ways, too. For example, you can create a clip from an episode and share it via social media, or you can share a link to an episode. Those features aren’t offered on all podcast platforms, but Overcast makes it simple to share.

There are other features worth noting, too. One perk of using Overcast is that it allows you to manage playlists by creating show priorities, filters and applying sorting rules so that your favorite shows get moved to the top. You can also select a specific episode from your list, move it to the top of the lists or opt to play that episode next.

Add in other features like Smart Resume, which lets you quickly pause and resume your podcast. That alone isn’t unique, but here’s what is. This feature will automatically rewind the episode just slightly from the exact point that you paused it so you can get back into your show without having to rack your brain for where you left off. 

Bonus: Catch all the Komando podcasts

Want to learn more about this digital life? Kim explores topics that impact us every day in Tech You Should Know. From scammers to hackers and social media to product reviews, Kim finds top experts to give us their take or explain what Big Tech is doing now.

Pressed for time? In 60 seconds, you’ll know the day’s most burning tech issue or a new trick for your digital life with Kim’s Daily Tech Update. Short and to the point, this podcast keeps you informed without any fanfare.

Finally, we’ve got Tech Refresh, your fun talk show about all things digital — the good, the bad and the uplifting. From what you should buy to the latest crazy internet trends, Allie, Ben and host Mike break it all down. Listen once and you’re hooked — it’s that simple.

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