Pocket Casts will be free

Making way for Pocket Casts Plus

Thanks for this.
With an upgrade to an XR, it’s time to compare Overcast, Castro and Pocket Casts for car use again.

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Pocket Casts is my favorite podcast player. Hearing about these sort of changes makes me anxious.

They’re really doing the right thing here - giving people who paid access to pro features, and giving three years’ worth of Pro ($30 value) to people who’d paid for the $9 web player sync/access. (I’m in that category - yet I don’t even see myself using the Pro tier’s upload space and other features.)

Given that the app is owned now by a consortium of NPR stations, I’m heartened to see that it’s not only continuing to be developed but is being opened up to more people. When you think of NPR you don’t necessarily think of cutting edge app development, but PC’s original devs have stayed on and the app, and its Discover section (which showcases new podcasts, and popular ones in multiple categories) have gotten really good.


I don’t know about car use, but I really liked Castro when I tried it, although it didn’t offer anything over PC, which I have been using now for almost three years. PC as a free app is really something to check out though.

Pocket Casts Plus (99¢/month month or $10/year annually) offers 10GB of cloud storage to upload and save custom files which can be used to store audiobooks, lecture notes, and other long-form audio (or video?) to play anywhere the client is available, which includes Android, Windows and through web access. Even though this change is giving me three years of PC Plus (a gift to people who’d paid for web access), I don’t actually see myself using it, and I don’t even use the web access any more, either.

I think they just want to become the default non-Apple, non-Spotify, non-Stitcher podcast player, and their ownership by NPR enables them to afford it (perhaps while giving NPR podcasts a leg up in the Discovery section?).

I love, love, love Castro interface. But for CarPlay use, it does not work as well as Overcast. I’m back to Overcast now.

My main issue is not with the audio - that will play once the car starts. The issue is with the interface and navigation. In Castro, sometimes the player interface does not load. I think it’s CarPlay fault, not so much the app, but Overcast seems to be slightly more superior technically, in this regards. Maybe Overcast refreshes the interface often so it overcome that interface oddities that Castro never did overcome.

Another thing I like about Overcast is that it uses iCloud to sync your podcast queue and playing position. Somehow, this huge oversight was missed out from Castro. I listen to podcast in my car’s iPhone SE (permanent fixture in the car, ha ha) and I’d like to continue listening when I parked and is back home on my iPhone XS. Overcast does this really well but not Castro.

Lastly, while both Castro and Overcast are free, Castro Plus cost $3/month $10/month while Overcast subscription is just $1/month (or ad supported). I mean, $3/month $10/month for a beautiful interface is just now what I’d pay.

Edit to add: the one thing I like about Castro is that I can configure the right forward button to skip to next Chapter, instead of skipping forward 30, 60 or 90 seconds.This is really useful in CarPlay as one could just press the forward button in the steering wheel to jump one chapter forward. I have lobbied Marco Arment to include this feature in Overcast to no avail.

I think Marco said on an ATP that this is a feature he wants for CarPlay and the new Watch app.

Castro Plus is $19/year, according to the app description. That’s in the ballpark of Overcast’s $10/year and seems reasonable. I don’t use it, but it’s probably the best app for power users who thumb through lots of feeds and selectively listen. Those kinds of users are likely to appreciate the money-for-time tradeoff.

Castro Plus is 8.99 a year for me. Not sure if it has gone up to 10 a month. Overcast has always been rough to use in CarPlay for me. Won’t start from CarPlay interface. I’ve heard this was fixed; but I already made the change.

I think if you have been subscribing since the first time they introduced it, you still get it at $8.99

Now that I checked again, it is $3/month for me, not $10 (my currency conversion at the top of my head sucks, apparently, edit original post to reflect it). Still it is expensive (2 times more) vs Overcast.

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Update: despite the generous offer of three years of Pocket Casts Plus to current purchasers of the $9 web add-on, apparently enough pipple on ze internets complained, so now they’ve made it permanently free!

We made some pretty big changes this week, and we’ve heard your feedback loud and clear. Although we intended to demonstrate our appreciation to our most loyal users, we know many of you feel we missed the mark. With that in mind, today we’ve decided to provide any user who previously purchased our Web version with lifetime access to Pocket Casts Plus. This includes the Mac and Windows apps as well. 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.