The Apple Podcasts app comes preinstalled on iOS devices and the company plans to expand its original podcasts library over time. Of course, other third-party podcast apps perform as good as Apple Podcasts, if not better. In this guide, we compare one of such apps (Castbox) with Apple’s native podcast app to see how they compare and which is better.
The simplicity of the Apple Podcasts app is sufficient to get you started as a podcast beginner or newbie. But as you go deeper into your podcast journey, and your appetite for more content increases, you’d need an app that offers advanced features that help you search, discover, and customize playback. That’s why choosing a podcast app that offers the best features is important. If you’re caught between Apple Podcasts and Castbox, this comparison will help guide you to make the appropriate decision.
Both Apple Podcasts and Castbox do a fantastic job of making everything available to the user without working much, thanks to the sticky navigation bar at the bottom in both apps.
If you use Apple Music on your iPhone or iPad, then the design, interface, and simplicity of the Apple Podcasts app should strike a chord.
By default, both Apple Podcasts and Castbox use a light/white theme. They also are compatible with Apple’s system-wide Dark Mode. This means when you enable Dark Mode on your iPhone or iPad. Both apps can switch to a dark theme automatically.
However, I love the fact that Castbox lets users customize the app’s theme without using the device’s system-wide theme. There’s no option to customize the app’s interface individually; you’re stuck with the system-wide theme.
Discovering Podcasts and Shows
Although you can discover new shows on Apple Podcasts using the Search section, content in the Browse section is majorly curated based on your iTunes and Apple ID region. There’s no option within the app to customize your content preference. To get content recommendations from a particular region, you’d have to change your iTunes and Apple ID country.
I find that limiting and exhausting. And I’m not alone; other Apple Podcasts users who don’t find their local content interesting struggle with the same.
Castbox, on the other hand, does a better job of discovering and recommending content. Like Apple Podcasts, Castbox’s Discover section also has a ton of content that is grouped into different categories based on your location. Castbox let’s you modify your region directly within the app (Personal > Settings > Region).
Additionally, Castbox lets you discover new and interesting podcasts in the Community section. You can discover podcasts by following hashtags, perusing comments from other Castbox users, and following trending shows. You can also join conversations via the comments section.
Castbox also does Search better when it comes to content discovery. On the app’s search section, you can discover new content based on what other podcast listeners/Castbox users are searching for. For each content category, Castbox also shows the popularity of search terms and how they’ve performed over time.
Another feature to love is Castbox’s Search History. It is a sub-section of the app’s search functionality where you’d find previously-searched keywords. You can tap on any term in the Search History section to search for them again. Saves you the stress of re-typing.
Although the Apple Podcasts’ search feature is functional and effective, the Search section is bland and mundane. You cannot get ideas or inspiration from other people’s searches. Even worse, the Apple Podcasts app doesn’t keep a record of your previous search.
And this is quite surprising because the Apple Music app has a Recent section where the last 3 search terms are stored. Likewise, there’s a Trending section for discovering new music or artiste based on what other Apple Music users are searching for in your region. Given that the Apple Music and Apple Podcasts apps carry a similar design experience, it’s surprising that the latter lacks these vital features.
Both Apple Podcasts and Castbox sport the basic playback controls needed to listen a podcast episode—Play/Pause button; forward and rewind buttons; a seek bar; and a menu button. You can also control volume right on the playback screen. For Castbox, you’d have to rely on the physical volume buttons.
That said, Castbox’s playback dashboard comes with more advanced controls and features. For example, there’s an extra menu that lets users like/favorite, download, or share a podcast episode. You can add an episode to a playlist or create a new playlist directly from the playback screen.
Castbox’s Share feature is one of my favorite things about the app. When you tap the share button, Castbox gives you the option to either share:
- the entire episode you’re playing
- the show you’re playing the episode from
- the current episode with the exact position (minutes and seconds) of playback.
Castbox also boasts of advanced playback features to help enhance your podcast listening experience. Volume Boost will increase the volume of play beyond the regular. Meanwhile, Trim Silence will reduce playback duration by cutting out unnecessary pauses and gaps at the beginning (or end) of podcast episodes.
Next up: Google Podcasts is now available on the iPhone. How does it stack against the native Podcasts app? Find out in the article linked below.
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