The podcasting industry is booming with heavy investment from large players like Google, Apple, and Spotify. NPR and a public radio consortium last year acquired Pocket Casts to offer its own experience and already released a major update in March with version 7.0. Today, Pocket Casts is going free and adding a “Plus” subscription.
Previously $3.99 for Android and iOS, the podcast player is now free to download. One common concern with paid apps dropping price tags completely is features becoming tiered behind a subscription. Fortunately, the free Pocket Casts will “retain all of the existing features that listeners know and love.”
This includes current dark theme options, cross-platform playback sync, audio effects like trimming silence and sorting. Pocket Casts will continue to add new features for free, and today’s announcement coincides with the ability to play custom audio and video files.
That said, Pocket Casts Plus now exists at $.99 per month or $10 annually. It offers 10GB of cloud storage to upload and save custom files. This locker can be used to listen or watch episodes before publishing, or storing audiobooks, lecture notes, and other long-form audio to play anywhere the client is available.
The subscription will also provide access to macOS, Windows, and web apps. If you previously bought the $9 desktop client, you’ll receive three free years of Pocket Casts Plus. The last benefit is exclusive app icons and themes.
Update: 9/19: In response to “loud and clear” feedback about yesterday’s Mac, Windows, and web app update, Pocket Casts will now offer lifetime Plus access to anyone that previously bought the $10 desktop client. That purchase before the podcast app’s new model was billed as providing “lifetime” usage and many were upset at a downgrade to only three years. This change is coming soon.
No renewal, no monthly charge, no questions asked. This means Desktop App purchasers will also gain access to all of the Pocket Casts Plus features on their mobile devices.
According to the app’s owners, a free Pocket Casts is “more closely aligned with the open-access model of its public media ownership.” It comes as Apple and Google Podcasts are free to use and — more importantly — already available on every device, while Spotify now offers a directory of shows and player with everyone’s monthly music subscription.
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