Top 8 Podcast Apps for Apple Watch

As popular site TechCrunch recently notes, the recent announcements regarding the new WatchOS has huge implications for both developers and the apps that they are creating. But there does appear to be even more benefit to one group of apps in particular: namely, those that allow you to access and manage your favorite podcasts. The main way that the second edition of the WatchOS does this is in its support for both audio recording and long form audio playback, which are two features that are sorely lacking when it comes to developing podcast apps for the Apple Watch at present. As such, this is probably why existing and very popular podcast apps still haven’t yet made the jump to the Apple Watch – and given this recent news, their hesitance has in many ways been justified. That doesn’t alter the fact however that there already a good bunch of podcast apps that allow you to access your favorite series on your wrist. We run through these below, and come up with a particular favorite.

8. Music App 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Pux_-R50Jew

Perhaps the first app that it’s worth mentioning when it comes to podcasts is the built in music app itself. Now, this app isn’t specifically set up to allow you to download and listen to your favorite podcasts, but there is a way to do so – something that perhaps highlights the limitations that are seemingly about to be addressed with those recently announced updates for the WatchOS. To sync podcasts to the music app on the Apple Watch, you first have to download them through iTunes and then – most important of all – mark these files as music under the kind of media. You can then add these files that your device now recognizes as music files to a playlist marked Podcasts, and sync it with your Apple Watch. Easy enough, right?  – More Info from Apple

7. TuneIn Radio (Free)

TuneIn

While not exactly a podcast app in the stricted sense of the word, those behind TuneIn Radio are regularly adding podcasts to their music directory, and have also encouraged users to manually submit their own favorites by emailing a special account with details such as the title of the podcast, XML/RSS feed, etc. I’ve been a fan of TuneIn for some time, and I’d like to see them expand to really support podcasts in a more generic way.  – Download from iTunes

6. Instacast (Free)

Instacast

Developed by Vemedio, Instacast is currently one of the more comprehensive podcast apps available for the Apple Watch, with a bold orange and white on black interface that reflects its existing editions on other platforms. While the functionality in this Apple Watch update are rather limited, there are some excellent features such as the ability to speed up playback and a timer that will be gratefully received by some. The best thing about this app though, in the eyes of someone who will admit to not being a regular listener of podcasts, is the Unplayed menu which quickly lists all of the latest episodes that you are yet to visit, with a small thumbnail and brief description of the episode so you can easily decide what you would rather listen to next and then queue it up accordingly. – Download from iTunes

5. iCatcher ($2.99)

iCatcher2

While iCatcher is not quite as easy on the eye as something like Instacast, the functionality is still there and it works as a fairly impressive podcast app of the few that have recently been updated for for the Apple Watch. While the playback screen remains understandably quite basic, scrubbing through audio files is easier with the quick skipping shortcuts, which means that you can actively pick up where you left off on another device with a few taps of your wrist. I’ve used iCatcher for some time on my iPhone, and I think that some of my warmth towards using this on the Apple Watch is down to that established connection, but it is still a welcome update despite the features that are lost when switching from one device to the other. – Download from iTunes

4. HiCast (Free)

Hicast2

HiCast features a similar kind of interface to iCatcher, which we spoke of on the previous page, and is a fairly capable podcast app that does the basic things well enough. Looking though many of the apps we’ve tested on the Apple Watch in recent weeks, one feature that many have employed and which I love so much is the ring-shaped progress bar, which of course lends itself well to the smaller Watch screen but does take up some space. So yes, the use of this kind of progress bar by those behind HiCast earns it a few extra points, in my book. – Download from iTunes

3. Pod Wrangler (Free)

Podwrangler2

Another fairly basic podcast app that is worth checking out is Pod Wrangler, and part of the reason I liked this one is the sleep mode that comes as a default option. This is particularly useful for those that often fall asleep listening to their favorite podcasts, as I’ve been known to do from time to time! I also like the Up Next page, which is similar to the Unplayed menu in Instacast, giving you access at a glance to the different episodes that you currently have queued up – complete with a small thumbnail for each podcast, though annoyingly no brief description. – Download from iTunes

2. Overcast (Free)

Overcast

Overcast is another popular podcast that was recently updated to support the Apple Watch, with a handful of features such as Smart Speed, Voice Boost and Smarter Playlists that will be welcome aspects for podcast fans. Now, Overcast was designed by programmer and podcaster Marco Arment, who has admitted to – like many Watch developers – looking to create a scaled down version of the iPhone interface for the wearable update of his app. While this “seemed like a sensible adaptation”, he writes in a blog entry on the design change on his website, in practice the interface wasn’t quite as useful as originally intended. In the same blog entry, Arment goes on to detail changes he would make to the interface in order to improve it, making for some fascinating reading if you are an iOS developer or interface designer. – Download from iTunes

1. Network (Free)

Network

Those who have followed the site will know by now that I’m a huge fan of clean and uncluttered interfaces, and the same goes for the premise of specific apps. Minimalist games and apps are a particular favorite, and I don’t think that there has ever existed a podcasts app that is quite as minimal as Network, developed by Andrew Conlan. Now, this is another of those apps that I’ll admit to not having even heard of when just in its iPhone guise, but that’s part of the fun of creating these lists – it forces you to browse all available options, and allows you to discover things you hadn’t perhaps found before. For those who are looking for advanced functionality and different features, Network as a podcast app perhaps isn’t for you, but it will be right up the street of those who prefer their apps simple and clean and elegant. – Download from iTunes

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