Pocket Casts is Now Free on Mobile

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos with 24 Comments

UPDATE: Good news: Pocket Cast has announced the following changes.

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.

After a disastrous launch of its latest major app version, Pocket Casts has lost a lot of users and now has a new strategy. Fix the mess and stop charging for the mobile versions of its apps. Plus, launch a subscription service.

“Both the Android and iOS apps are now free,” Pocket Casts announced. “We aren’t locking any existing features behind a paywall. Even more importantly, we will continue to update the free tier with new features and functionality. We fully expect the free version will be the way the vast majority of our users access our app. Yes, some users may upgrade to Pocket Casts Plus if they want to support us or access some of our more niche features. But free will be our flagship.”

Pocket Casts still charges for its web and desktop versions, and it is now offering a paid subscription tier called Pocket Casts Plus. This paid offering provides access to the desktop and web apps, cloud storage for non-podcast content, and exclusive themes and icons. It costs $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year. (Those who previously paid for the Pocket Casts web app will automatically get 3 years of Pocket Casts Plus for free.)

Tied to this change, of course, is a semi-major overhaul of the Pocket Casts 7.0 disaster, called Pocket Casts 7.5.

“Think of version 7.5 as a well-oiled, refined version of what came before it,” Pocket Casts says. “We’ve introduced a much-requested feature that allows you to easily add your own files to Pocket Casts. Share them from any app on your phone straight into our app and enjoy silence trimming and variable speed playback. We’ve also spent a lot of time tweaking the design, refining various interactions and bringing more account management functions inside the app.”

I suppose I should check it out, but Pocket Casts 7.0 was so terrible, I stopped using and recommending the app, and have been using Castbox ever since.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Pocket Casts is Now Free on Mobile”

  1. Daekar

    I feel sorry for these folks... this might be too little, too late. I enjoyed using the PocketCasts web client when I was playing with Linux or using a work PC, but every single podcast I follow is available on the web without going through PocketCasts, and I just happen to have a bookmark folder of the location of exactly where they're available.

    I can't see paying for that access when it's not really much of a value-add. And uploading your own files isn't really much of a value-add either (in the context of podcasts, at least), in my opinion.

    I went back to Podcast Addict and am constantly reminded of how much more I like their setup, PocketCasts made me appreciate it more.

  2. edzucker

    I also gave up on the pocketcasts mobile app. I do use the web version to play video podcasts on a TV. Podcast republic us now my mobile go to podcast app.

  3. pepesilvia

    I also was quite put off by the 7.0 release, but have come to actually like it as I kept using it. One of your complaints Paul, for example, was addressed quite early on -- namely you can now group episodes as played vs unplayed under the podcast page. I think it is worth reevaluating.

  4. munkeybuziness

    I’ve been using overcast since the pocket cast disaster update. It’s much more polished and still has silence skipping and a volume normalizer. I only miss the auto start after x seconds feature pocket casts had that I used to skip intros but no big deal.

  5. paulkbiba

    Hated the new version but thought I'd wait to see what the would update. Mistake. Got the updated version and immediately had serious problems with it updating the streaming file ever 30 seconds or so. Play, pause, play, pause, etc. Caching problem, I guess. Used their export option to export to an OPML file, deleted the app, and imported the file into Castbox.

    Won't go back.

  6. rmlounsbury

    I have been a long time user of Pocket Casts thanks to its cross platform prowess and availability everywhere since it has the browser based player as well. The changes in the 7.0 version never really bothered me but I did start experiencing random pausing while listning to podcasts which I never could figure out. Since I was on an iPhone at the time I started using Overcast which is excellent but locked to the iOS platform. Since switching to a Pixel 3a XL I switched back to Pocket Casts and it has worked perfectly ever since.

    I did get an email last night with the 3 years of Pocket Cast + service which is nice to see that they are covering their long time users. Since I use the desktop and browser experiences it is nice that I don't have to worry about any extra cost for them over the next 3 years. Even then I'm happy to kick a little extra back to Pocket Casts.

    I still recommend and use it.

  7. harrymyhre

    Have been using it for years.

  8. chrishilton1

    I'm not sure I understand the criticism of v7.0. I read Paul's article at the time, and yes it changed, and the icons got a bit smaller. I almost switched because of the article Paul wrote, but I tried others and they were terrible. I ended up going back to Pocket Casts quite quickly and have never had any issues. In fact, the update solved some long standing issues and improved the product in my opinion. Great app, unfairly criticised if you ask me. I think it will be difficult for them to continue to innovate and update in the same way now they are not charging for the app.

  9. Divodd

    I'm one of the people who actually liked 7.0, happy with the update

    • beatnixxx

      In reply to Divodd:

      I didn't love the changes, but I adapted fairly quickly. Still love it overall, I understand people may not like it, but can't help but feel like some of the negative reactions are a bit overblown.

  10. wunderbar

    I don't like that they are taking away the web/pc app from those who already bought it. 3 years is a gesture, but they should have grandfathered existing purchasers in.

    I'll be looking for alternatives, again. None of the other apps on Android seem to support the cross device sync, which I could probably live without if I needed to, but I use the PC app a lot, especially for the 4 video podcasts I watch (ironically 3 of the 4 are Paul's shows).

    I may have to just give up the cross sync, and find a separate standalone podcast player on Android and deal with the video podcasts in another way.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to wunderbar:

      You may be interested in my forum post this afternoon; they've changed their mind about the web/pc app.

    • sabertooth920

      In reply to wunderbar:

      You might want to try Cloud Caster on the web.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to wunderbar:

      I wondered why the PC app is now part of a $10 per year subscription while the iOS and Android apps are free.

      • mattbg

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Possibly because the web app is hosted, and so has an ongoing service component to it.

        I paid for the desktop app, but in a way I'm glad they are charging a subscription fee. It wouldn't be sustainable otherwise, and I'd rather have a good app and pay a nominal amount for it than have poor apps that frustrate me each time I use them.

        I don't quite understand why being able to upload your own audio files is a desirable feature. For something like Spotify to store owned music, sure, but... for podcasts? Audible is its own thing, so that's out. It almost sounds like a feature that would mainly be used for piracy of audiobooks :)

        • helix2301

          In reply to mattbg:

          I don’t really use web app at all but I do use the desktop client on my work n home pc.

          i see the value of uploading audio old versions of coast to coast am n security now are not available via rss but just direct download but you can’t access uploaded content on desktop via mobile app yet which kind dumb I’m sure it’s coming soon

  11. Kevin Costa

    To me, as I use only my phone to listen to podcasts, I use Podcast Addict, because is the king of personalization and tweaks. If they develop cross platform sync, it will possibly be the best podcast app available.

  12. Kevin Costa

    Pocket Casts 7.5 (Mango) fixes problems with 7.0 (Metro). That made me remember a certain mobile system :(

    [joke] When Pocket Casts 8.0 releases, the app will switch kernels [/joke].

  13. RonV42

    I had to re-learn to use Pocket Casts 7.0 came out. Still use it. Don't know if I will in the future.

  14. wolters

    I got the email that I get the 3 year subscription. I may just move to Google Podcasts since it is integrated with my Google Home devices. I just wish it had a web interface.

  15. lprell

    Does it ever recover from the disastrous new UI? I remember Paul's journey to find another podcast app since PocketCast screw it all.

  16. Chris_Kez

    I was deeply ambivalent when Russell Ivanovic and the Shifty Jelly team announced the acquisition by NPR-- happy on the one hand that they were getting recognition and a nice payout, but sad on the other because I feared it would mean a big change for the app. Well, here it is. The 7.0 update trashed the UI, and now management is trashing the business model by converting to a dumb subscription model.

    As a former Pocket Casts user, this makes me a little sad. I used the app for many years, having purchased the iOS, Android and web/desktop apps. They offered a ton of features, a good UI (until that 7.0 debacle) and cross-platform capabilities-- all for a good price and with a clear business model: pay a few dollars and you get the app. Now that I'm back on iOS I use Overcast, and I'm happy to support a developer with his head and his heart in the right place.

  17. bart

    Got the 3 years of Pocket Casts Plus today after updating the app. It seems usable again, but have to use it a bit more to give a final verdict.

  18. nerdile

    Pocket Casts has added so many "features" that it's frustrating to do basic things like subscribe to podcasts and watch them. Why is it that when I play the Windows Weekly video podcast it takes 4 clicks to put the video onto the screen? But it works once you get used to its quirks, and it's nowhere near as bad as the iOS podcast app (which, also, used to be quite good).