Pocket Casts announced that both the Android and iOS apps are now free. The main reason for this change appears to be thanks to their partners.
In May of 2018, Pocket Casts was acquired by NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life. At the time, Pocket Casts stated that it would operate as a joint venture, with founders Philip Simpson and Russell Ivanovic in leadership roles and the existing staff and developer teams remaining in place.
After many months of hard work, we’re excited to share version 7.5 of our Android and iOS apps. The Android version is currently rolling out, and the iOS version is in review with Apple and will be available soon. We also have updates for our web and desktop versions rolling out today.
Some things to know:
If you have already paid for the Pocket Casts app, you will still have access to all the features you paid for. They are not locking any existing features behind a paywall. Pocket Casts will continue to update the free tier with new features and functionality. They believe that the vast majority of users will access the free app.
Those who have paid for the web and desktop Pocket Cast apps will be gifted with three years of Pocket Casts Plus. The next time you log in, you’ll be upgraded automatically and can keep using the apps as you always have, including all of the features that were added in the new release.
Pocket Casts Plus is a new subscription tier. It is not free. There are two plans. The Monthly plan is US $0.99. The Yearly plan is US $9.99. Pocket Casts describes Pocket Casts Plus as “exclusive features for discerning members.”
Pocket Casts announced that after many months of design, development, and hard work, the Pocket Casts Skill is now available on Alexa.
It adds to the other places you can use Pocket Casts: iOS, Android, CarPlay and Android Auto. The Pocket Casts Skill is currently only available in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.
Here is how the Pocket Casts Skill works:
- Head to the Skills section of your Alexa app on your iOS or Android device
- Search for “Pocket Casts” and install the Skill.
- In the Alexa app, link your Amazon account to your Pocket Casts one
So what kind of things can you do? Well, version 7 brought with it an important new feature: Up Next syncing. This means what you’re currently listening to is saved to your account, as is everything you’ve queued to play next. So getting your first podcast playing is as simple as saying “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play my Up Next” and what you were last playing will begin, right where you left off.
You can asks for a specific podcast by name. For example, “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to play the latest episode of Radiolab.” Not sure what to listen to? Use the phrase “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to give me a recommendation”. Pocket Casts will use your playback history to find something that is tailored just for you.
Other phrases include:
- “Alexa, open Pocket Casts.”
- “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts what’s playing.”
- “Alexa, ask Pocket Casts about the featured podcast.”
- “Alexa, tell Pocket Casts to surprise me.” Use this phrase when you want Pocket Casts to randomly pick an episode from your subscriptions without trying to be too smart about it.
- “Alexa help”. Use this phrase whenever you are interacting with the Pocket Casts skill and you are not quite sure what to do next, or what other things you can do.
It seems like a given that the iTunes desktop application and/or Apple’s Podcasts app for iOS are the default programs most people use to listen to podcasts. And while that may be true, a number of third-party developers have come up thru the years to challenge Apple’s grip on the podcast consumption market. Many of these non-Apple apps are designed to work on one platform. For example, Overcast is only available on iOS. Downcast is a little better, being available on both iOS and MacOS. With the release of Pocket Casts 6, app developer Shifty Jelly is bringing your favorite shows to you, regardless of which device you’re currently using. And the app is also sporting some new features:
- Redesigned user interface: Shifty Jelly describes the new Pocket Casts interface as, “Simple to understand, easy to use,” and “It looks good as well.” Adding, “Many things can now be accomplished faster than before and it just looks and works so much better.”
- Trim Silence and Volume Boost: A special algorithm ensures that podcasts are played back at a loud (but still comfortable) volume, making it easier to hear the overall production. This feature also removes excessive amounts of silence between speaking passages, effectively cutting out unwanted dead air.
- Picture-in-Picture and Split-Screen Support for iPad.
- Up Next: This feature makes it easier to decide which podcasts to play after the current selection.
- Dark Theme: An alternative look for the Pocket Casts app that makes it easier to use during nighttime hours.
If you’re interested in trying out Pocket Casts 6, the app is available for Android, iOS, Windows, and as a web version thru the Pocket Casts site.