Our favorite Android apps to replace Google Podcasts

For those in the US, Google Podcasts is set to shut down after today, April 2. We’ve tested quite a few other podcast apps on Android and selected our favorite replacements for Google Podcasts.

For an app to make it into our list, one of the key requirements is support for importing OPML files. While Google Podcasts offers a streamlined way to transition your podcast subscriptions to YouTube Music, the app also provides an option to save a standard OPML file to be opened elsewhere. For years, podcast apps and RSS readers have used OPML files as a standardized way to export/import subscriptions.

Top-voted: Pocket Casts

Used by four members of the 9to5Google team (Abner, Andrew, Damien, and Kyle), our favorite Android app to replace Google Podcasts is Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts has been serving podcasts to users across Android and iOS for over a decade now, so the app’s experience has been thoroughly refined in that time. In many ways, Pocket Casts expands beyond Google Podcasts’ simplified feature set by offering unique features like listening stats.

Getting set up is a cinch, as you can log in with your Google Account or a traditional email/password. Afterward, to carry over your shows from Google Podcasts, you can head to the Profile tab, tap the gear icon for settings, and choose “Import & export OPML.” By signing in with an account, your podcast library and listening history will stay in sync across devices for free.

The Pocket Casts player interface is straightforward, though you’ll need a bit of adjustment coming from Google Podcasts. Some features, like the show notes and share menu, are given more prominence. Meanwhile, the option to play your podcast via Chromecast is tucked away in a menu. Otherwise, you’ll find the same controls for jumping forward/back a few seconds, adjusting playback speed, starting a sleep timer, and more.

On the home page, you’ll find your list of subscribed shows, which you can sort by name, date, or newest episode (or manually arrange to your liking). Matching one of my favorite features from Google Podcasts, you can find a feed of the latest episodes from your subscriptions in the “New Releases” section of the Filters tab.

The real star of the show is the Discover tab, in which Pocket Casts surfaces many popular and award-winning podcasts from across the Internet. The same tab also offers a handy search feature that makes it easy to find new shows or look up particular episodes.

That said, many of the recommendations in the Discover tab are prominently marked as sponsored promotions. By comparison, Google Podcasts was thoroughly ad-free. Pocket Casts also offers a handful of premium features only available to paid subscribers, but the free tier is more than sufficient for most people.

Runner-up: AntennaPod

Another favorite Android app for podcasts is AntennaPod, as it’s the best option we’ve found that manages to have a clean design while remaining entirely ad-free (outside of standard in-episode ads, of course). AntennaPod is able to remain free, privacy-preserving, and ad-free because it’s a fully open-source project powered by contributions from the community.

From the app’s home page, you’ll find your current queue of podcast episodes, the latest releases from your subscriptions, a list of what you’ve already downloaded, and more. Better yet, you can toggle all of these sections on or off to suit your needs.

However, what AntennaPod lacks in comparison to Pocket Casts is a robust way to discover new shows to try. There’s an online search option, but unless you already know the name of a particular show, it can be tricky to find the gems among the results.

Moving to the player itself, the controls are arranged in a straightforward way, putting standard playback options – speed, rewind, play/pause, skip ahead, next episode – at the bottom, while snooze, cast, and favorite are at the top.

Admittedly, AntennaPod is not without its flaws, as some options aren’t always where I would expect them to be. The first thing I’d recommend tweaking (assuming you have a sufficient data plan) is enabling the app to both download and stream podcasts via mobile data. You can find this option by opening Settings from the navigation drawer then going to Downloads > Mobile Updates and checking all of the boxes. You can also carry over your Google Podcasts subscriptions using the Import/Export > OPML import option in Settings.

Meanwhile, AntennaPod offers a cross-device sync option, but it uses another free, open-source service, Gpodder. Because servers aren’t free, Gpodder is community-supported and isn’t as reliable as most other podcast apps’ sync features. For the technically inclined, though, Gpodder allows you to host your own instance, giving you full control over your data.

Honorable mentions:

YouTube Music

If you’re not at all picky about what Android app you use to listen to your favorite podcasts, YouTube Music is the officially intended replacement for Google Podcasts. The only major advantage here is that your Google Podcasts subscriptions and listening history will both seamlessly copy over to YouTube Music and stay in sync across devices signed into your Google Account.

That said, we’ve spoken at length – on multiple occasions – about why YouTube Music is currently one of our least favorite Android apps for podcasts. We won’t reiterate all of that here, but the gist is that the interface is shockingly cluttered in comparison to Google Podcasts.


Spotify for Android

It’s hard not to mention Spotify on this list, as it was one of the first mainstream music apps on Android to introduce podcast features. The company has also invested heavily in original content, even purchasing a major indie podcast publishing platform, Anchor. This library and the years of steady tweaks to the design have made Spotify’s combination of podcasts and music less clunky than it could be (see: YouTube Music). If you’re already paying for a Spotify subscription, using its podcast features may be a no-brainer for you.

Curiously, despite the shutdown of two major competitors in the podcast space (Stitcher and Google Podcasts) and the resulting mass migrations, Spotify has thus far refused to launch an official OPML import feature. Thankfully, it seems a third-party developer has created a web app, Pod Importer, to import your library for you.

With Google Podcasts set to become nothing more than a fond memory (at least in the US), where have you chosen to keep up with your favorite shows? Let us know in the comments below.

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