Which app works best on iPhone

Apple Podcasts has always been my favorite podcast app on the iPhone. Although it does nothing extraordinary compared to Pocket Casts, I have always found it more than enough for my activation and deactivation relationship with podcasts.

Which app works best on iPhone

But that changed when Google released its own podcast app – dubbed Google Podcasts – for the iPhone. If there’s one thing I know, it’s the fact that Google is creating some of the best third-party (free) alternatives for iOS.

Although I want to stay with Apple podcasts, I knew I should at least try Google Podcasts. And let me say this from the start – it really impressed me. But was it good enough to make me permanently abandon Apple’s Podcasts app? Let’s find out.

Note: The name of the podcast app next to the feature indicates a preference or a winner.

User interface – Google Podcasts

Like any other Google application, Google Podcasts is built on the basis of the Material Design visual language. In addition to making it great to look at, Material Design also helps the app pack in many elements without cluttering the user interface. The buttons and menus are also intuitive and responsive.

In addition, the three tabs of Google Podcasts at the bottom of the screen – Home, Explorer and Activity – facilitate navigation in the application.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 1
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 2
Which app works best on iPhone

The Home tab lists all subscribed channels and new episodes, Explore provides quick access to new programs and search commands, and the Activity tab and its associated sub-tabs manage subscriber channels, the queue waiting, downloaded episodes, etc., fast and painless.

In contrast, the fonts, icons, and thumbnails of Apple podcasts look huge. Navigation also involves a lot of scrolling and diving in the menus, especially with the Browse and Library tabs. Needless to say, this creates confusion most of the time.

Discover the shows – Google Podcasts

Apple Podcasts is doing a bad job of helping discover new shows. It lists featured shows and podcast categories, but scrolling through these gigantic thumbnails quickly becomes tiring. The same goes when searching for shows, where I have to be precise enough with my queries to generate correct results.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 3
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 4
Which app works best on iPhone

On the other hand, Google Podcasts presents a tab For you under Explorer which recommends programs based on my activity and my listening history. It also provides sub-tabs such as News, Culture, Education, etc. at the top of the screen, which allows for quick navigation.

The search capabilities of Google Podcasts have also beaten Apple Podcasts by miles. Research is a bit of a Google thing, and it shows. The app quickly offers suggestions and quickly generates relevant results.

Playback controls – Google Podcasts

Google Podcasts provides three nifty buttons under each episode, allowing me to play, queue or download the ones I want easily. Tap anywhere else and I get additional information such as episode ratings and download size.

On the other hand, Apple Podcasts starts playing as soon as I hit an episode (even accidentally, which will end everything I listened to from the start). This makes tasks such as queuing and downloading difficult at best. I like the approach of Google Podcasts better.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 5
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 6
Which app works best on iPhone

When it comes to actual playback controls, Apple Podcasts offers buttons for forward and backward (customizable via settings), a search bar, and speed controls. Just enough to get the job done.

At a glance, the Google Podcasts playback screen also looks strikingly like its native counterpart. But on closer inspection, there are actually a few options that make the difference.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 7
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 8
Which app works best on iPhone

Tap the play speed icon, for example, and you can actually make fine adjustments rather than relying on presets.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 9
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 10
Which app works best on iPhone

Google Podcasts also offers an option called Trim Silence which removes pauses and gaps from podcasts. You even get an adjustable sleep timer. Cool stuff.

Downloads and notifications – Google Podcasts

Apple podcasts and Google podcasts support automatic downloads and notifications. But the latter actually streamlines the whole process from the start.

Subscribe to a new show in Google Podcasts and I decide if I want to automatically download or receive notifications every time a new episode hits the shelves. I can also visit the Settings panel of Google Podcasts to manage my automatic download settings and notifications for each subscribed program.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 11
Which app works best on iPhone
Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 12
Which app works best on iPhone

Apple podcasts, on the other hand, provide quick access to notification controls via the Listen tab. But managing automatic downloads is another matter entirely.

To start, I have to head to the Settings panel of my iPhone just to change my download preferences. Come on, Apple. Even then, there are no automatic download settings for individual shows, which makes it taste bad.

Multi-device availability – Apple Podcasts

Apple podcasts are tightly integrated with the entire Apple ecosystem. It is available on Apple Watch, iPad and Mac, so I can listen to my favorite podcasts on any of my Apple devices. The same cannot be said for Android or Windows, where Apple Podcasts is practically non-existent.

Iphone Apple Podcasts vs. Google Podcasts 15
Which app works best on iPhone

In such situations, Google apps often save the day because of their cross-platform availability. But not with Google Podcasts.

Aside from the iPhone, Google Podcasts is only available as a dedicated app on Android. But that’s about all. Nothing for the iPad or Apple Watch (at least for now).

Google Podcasts is available as a web app, so you can listen to the shows you subscribe to from a PC and Mac. But it’s at best with poor navigation and playback controls and is nothing like the stellar app on the iPhone.

Verdict – Google Podcasts

Google Podcasts beats Apple Podcasts on almost all fronts. Better user interface, superior playback controls, easier management of downloads and notifications, etc., clearly make it the winner.

But as I just mentioned, Google Podcasts is collapsing when it comes to availability on other devices. Aside from Android, Google Podcasts will not do justice to its inferior web application.

Personally, I don’t really mind using one or the other. I rarely listen to podcasts on anything other than my iPhone, so I switch to Google Podcasts full time. It’s just good.

Then:

Castro and Overcast bring their own unique touch to the iPhone. Click on the link below to find out more.

Last updated on May 9, 2020

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