Tech Tip Tuesday: How to Listen to Podcasts

Do you enjoy listening to talk radio, comedy, audio books, food programs, news shows, or cool music while you’re in the car, doing dishes, or at the gym? Did you know that you can curate your own audio or video series by listening to or watching podcasts on all the topics you enjoy?

If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, it’s basically like a radio program except that it’s broadcast over the internet. Increasingly podcast creators are adding video to the mix, but most of the podcasts out there are strictly audio. Some broadcast radio shows have even started making podcast versions of their daily or weekly content so that listeners can download or stream the program at their leisure.

The most popular way to find podcasts is by searching the iTunes store. Brand new podcasts show up in the New & Noteworthy section (which is where we hope the Women Connected podcast will be later this week!), and you can search for other podcasts using the great options on the podcasts homepage.

Once you’ve identified a podcast you want to listen to, you can subscribe to it via iTunes and listen from your computer or sync to your mobile device. You can also use a podcatcher app to download podcasts directly to your mobile device. Many podcatchers will sync with your iTunes subscriptions, but not all will do it automatically.

There are several great podcatchers out there and the one you choose is a matter of personal preference and platform since some are only available on iOS devices. The one thing we don’t recommend is using Apple’s native Podcasts app–it has limited functionality and is a bit clunky to operate, especially when compared with the other free options out there.

If You’re an iOS User

Stitcher ipad

Stitcher’s interface on the iPad

A little over a year ago review site CNET put together a review of three of the most popular podcatchers for iOS devices: Downcast, Instacast, and Stitcher Radio. Each of these apps does the same thing: allows you to search for, download, and listen to podcasts. They each have slightly different functionality, and may offer a larger or smaller back catalog of podcast episodes (Stitcher, for example, often has only the 10 most recent episodes). Downcast is $1.99 and Instacast is $4.99 in the App Store. Our advice: try a free option like Stitcher first, and if the specs satisfy you, then no need to look further.

If You’re an Android User

We did a review of reviews across the web to find the best options for Android, and across the board the number one recommendation is Pocket Casts. It’s available for $3.99 in the Play Store. Other free options on Android that have good reviews are BeyondPod, Podkicker, and DoggCatcher. Stitcher Radio is also available for free, but seems to have fewer features than on the iOS version.

Stitcher Android

Stitcher’s interface on an Android phone

And if you’re in a household with both Android and iOS devices and you have to choose where to spend the $2-$6 you’ll incur for the pro versions of some podcatchers, you might want to default to your iPhone, iPod, or iPad for podcast listening as the apps are more feature-rich than on Android. Alternatively, choose something like Stitcher that works across platforms so you can use your iOS or Android interchangeably.

You’ve subscribed to a few podcasts, you’ve downloaded a podcatcher app and you’ve organized your playlist for your morning commute. Now what? If your car has an inline audio jack, just grab an AUX-IN cable like this one that will allow you connect your device to your car’s audio system, and off you go. If not, then we recommend playing it safe and saving your playlist for the gym or the kitchen, or anywhere else you can safely listen with or without headphones.

Podcasts are an incredible way to discover new ideas, music, interests, recipes, tech tips and more. It’s like having your own personal radio station that plays only content you enjoy.

On Thursday, September 19 make sure you visit iTunes, our website, or our social media channels to get the first episode of the Women Connected podcast, and to subscribe to all of our future episodes.