I’ve used a lot of podcast apps over the years. Doggcatcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Downcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and countless others have all found their way onto my devices at some point in their lifetime. Some of these podcast players were trusted servants for a long period of time, others not so much. As you may already deduced, I am kind of hard to please when it comes to podcast apps. However, things may be about to change. In this post I am going to take a closer look at my current favorite podcast player, Castro 2 for iPhone from Supertop.
What Makes a Good Podcast App?
Essentially, all these apps do pretty much the same thing. They download (or stream) podcasts from the web so that you can listen to them on your own schedule. However, the truth is, some do this better than others. Some are more reliable, sync faster, or do a better job for displaying show notes and artwork.
Then there is the question of functionality. How easy is it to navigate and find your way around in a podcast player? Are the swipes, gestures and menus predictable, or does it just take too many taps to do what you want to do? These are important considerations for usability, and not all apps are created equal in this regard.
Lastly, there are the “nice to haves.” The features that developers include to try and set their app aside from the competition. Here you might find options like multiple playback speeds, a voice booster, silence shorteners, playlists, themes, CarPlay support, cross platform sync, sleep timers, and more. You may not need all of these features all of the time, but it’s good to have options.
How Does Castro 2 Work?
If you’re like me, you probably subscribe to podcasts where you never miss an episode. You wait anxiously for the latest update to drop into your app and you listen to it on the very same day that it downloads to your device. However, you probably also subscribe to podcasts that you don’t listen to quite as frequently. These could be podcasts where not all the topics are going to be something you’re interested in, or simply podcasts that update more frequently than you have time to listen to. Your podcast listening time is limited, so you find that you only listen to these episodes once in a while.
If this sounds familiar, then Castro 2 could be perfect for you. When you add a new podcast to your feed, you decide whether to add it to your Queue or your Inbox. Podcasts that are added to your Queue will automatically download the latest episode to your phone. You can also choose whether that podcast gets added to the top of your queue or to the bottom.
Podcasts that are added to your Inbox will only download when you move them to your Queue. This saves space on your device and lets you choose whether you want to listen to the latest episode or not. If you don’t want to listen to it, simply tap the archive button to send it to your archive. If you do want to listen to it, you can tap the episode and add it to your Queue, or drag and drop it over the Queue button at the bottom of the screen.
What Are The “Nice to Have” Features in Castro 2?
Superficially, Castro looks somewhat simpler than other podcast player apps. However, this simplicity is really just a mark of great design. There are actually a lot of useful features in this app that are tailor made to make your podcast listening more enjoyable. They include:
- Enhanced audio
- Sleep timer
- Continuous play
- 3D Touch support
- CarPlay support
- Drag and drop
- Dark mode
- Favorite list for episodes
- Archive of previous episodes
- Adjustable playback speeds
Is This The Perfect Podcast Player?
For some people it may well be. For me, it’s about as close as it gets. I would love native support for other devices like the iPad or the Mac. I would also vote for a little more control over setting the priority of podcasts I add to my queue. Adding new podcasts to the top or bottom is fine, but if I could number my podcasts, or drag and drop them into my preferred order of priority, then that would save me a few seconds of reordering when new episodes arrive. Lastly, if you are a fan of multiple playlists, then this is probably not the app for you. Essentially, you only get one playlist, your queue, and that is unlikely to change because of the way that Castro works. For me, this was an easy change to make, but for others it could be more difficult.
How to Switch to Castro 2
If you want to give Castro a try, you can download it from the App Store. The app costs $3.99, but everything I wrote about in this review is included for that price. There are no in-app purchases. Once you have the app, head over to the settings in your current podcast app and look for the export option. This should open the iOS share sheet, which in turn will let you choose Castro as a destination for your exported data. When you export your data, all the podcasts that you currently subscribe to will be imported into Castro so you will never miss an episode of your favorite show.
For an in-depth walkthrough of the Castro Podcast Player, check out the video below: