Pocket Casts [$5.99] is a very automated podcast app with lots of features, like sleep timer and auto download.
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Pro Remembers playback speed & starting position
You can set a 'start from' position for a podcast to skip a set number of seconds from the beginning of an episode. Great for when you don't want to listen to an intro you've heard a couple of dozen times before.
Additionally, you can also change the playback speed, to slow down fast talkers or speed up slow talkers.
Pro Auto download specific podcasts
You can set Pocket Casts to automatically download the latest episode of a podcast, whenever a new episode is released.
Pro Quick access to Sleep Timer
The most pleasing User Experience (UX) to set a Sleep Timer.
Activating the sleep timer will stop the podcast after a set period of time or at the End of the Episode.
Pro Vibrant aesthetics
Pocket Casts has one of the most colorful, pleasant to use interfaces.
For example, the app takes the most prominent color from the album art and colorizes the rest of the playback interface based on that color. This allows the app to stay vibrant and slightly different for each podcast.
Or the way it displays featured podcasts in a colorful mosaic made from album art, makes the whole experience of using the app pleasant.
Pro Automated playlist creation
Pocket Casts has a feature called Episode Filter, that allows automatically creating playlists based on setting such as playing states (unplayed, playing, played), status (downloaded, downloading, not downloaded), episode type (audio, video) and of course podcasts themselves.
You can also customize the appearance of the playlist with a color and an icon to help it stand out easier.
Pro Global and per-podcast playback settings
Enables you to set a "global" playback speed to use for all podcasts which can be over-ridden by a podcast specific playback speed.
Pro Can set custom skip-forward and back timing
You can set custom "skip forward" and "skip backward" timings for easily skipping past parts of podcasts you don't like.
Pro Sync with iPhone, iPad, Android
If you use Pocket Casts on more than one device, you can synchronize settings, playback positions, etc., across all your devices.
Pro Excellent, easy to use discovery system
Clicking the plus button in the top-right corner will bring you to featured podcasts. From there you can access multiple ways of finding new things to listen to such as: top charts (that can be separated in audio and video), search (that allows searching both by name and feed URL), a list of podcast networks and different podcast categories.
They also have a great selection of podcasts to choose from. The team behind Pocket Casts work hard to maintain a reliable and high quality catalog so you can avoid out of date listings, problems with raw feeds, etc.
Pro Sonos integration
It is possible to connect Pocket Casts with Sonos, and play podcasts.
Con Cannot create custom playlists
You can not add specific podcast episodes to create a custom playlist. While you can set up "filters" to create a playlist, if you're trying to follow a thread of specific podcast episodes, you can't set that up.
Con Skip episode often does not work with CarPlay
The Skip Episode feature, to automatically mark an episode as listened to and finshed, often does not work in CarPlay mode. Instead, you have to push the "skip forward" button a lot. Good luck having a long enough stoplight for that!