Back in May, NPR and a consortium of public radio channels acquired Pocket Casts. It comes amid the “golden age of podcasts,” with Google this year entering the field and detailing ambitious audio plans of its own. Pocket Casts 7.0 is entering public beta on Android today with a major overhaul and new features on all platforms.
Pocket Casts is a beloved app due to its adherence of Material Design, quick support for new Android features, and general polish. Version 7.0 introduces a new Material Theme and accompanying animations that adhere to the look teased at Google I/O 2018.
The app replaces the navigation drawer with a new bottom bar that provides quick access to your subscribed shows, playlists, search, and profile. In the Podcasts tab, users can customize the density of the cover art grid or default to a list view.
Pocket Casts 7.0 does a better job at surfacing various customizations. Instead of an overflow button in the top-right opening a small menu, a panel slides up to set whether episode badges for play status appear or how to sort shows.
When viewing a podcast page, you can now search episodes with a convenient field that quickly loads results below. There are a wealth of options here, including new episode notifications and auto download preferences.
Playback can be initiated from the main list, but clicking through displays show notes, the ability to download, add to queue, mark as played, favorite, and archive. The concept of archiving is different from using played/unplayed status to manage episodes. Users can hide episodes from the list that they no longer have any intent of listening or returning to, with archiving content also deleting downloads.
The actual Now Playing notification is docked just above the bottom bar when an episode is active. It displays cover art at the left and the Up Next queue to the right, while at center are play/pause and rewind/forward controls.
Tapping or sliding up reveals additional controls like opening show notes, playback effects (including speed, trim silence, and volume boost), and the sleep timer. The background of Now Playing adapts to the cover art of the podcasts, while your next show is always listed below.
Filters & Discovery
Customization in Pocket Casts extends to playlists that can automatically organize how you listen to your favorite shows. Known as “Filters,” options include limiting a playlist to select podcasts and by download status, release date, and media type. This list makes more sense as a dedicated tab rather than a list in the nav drawer.
The Discover tab reflects the new ownership by NPR, WNYC Studios, and WBEZ / This American Life and focus on curation. Pocket Casts 7.0 features both human and algorithmic selections to deliver recommendations by platform and region.
A full-width search bar at the top allows you to find new podcasts, while there is a “Featured” carousel with a brief description of the episode and a quick way to subscribe in the top-right corner. There are various lists like Trending and Popularity by country. There is also a grid of networks and podcasts by category.
Settings & Themes
The last Profile tab is a stats page of sorts that notes your listening history through various metrics. App settings are also available here in the upper-right corner. Under Appearance, user can select from a Light, Dark, and Extra dark theme, as well as more granular options, like importing/exporting OPML and storage/data usage.
Pocket Casts 7.0 also brings a revamp to the web and iOS client. On Android, it is initially available as a public beta via the Play Store that anyone can sign-up for and access immediately. Be warned that this is a beta and bugs will be encountered. This a free update for existing users, with the app otherwise costing $3.99.
While Google Podcasts offers a free option that integrates with Assistant and Google Home, Pocket Casts is aimed at pro users who will appreciate the powerful customizations and great Material Theme.