How to Listen to Podcasts (Anytime, Anywhere for Free)

Listening to podcasts can be daunting. While podcast hosting is rampant, it does not work like YouTube, where you get to search and then watch and close the video if you do not like it. Listening to podcasts requires downloading and many other things.

In addition, the options are astounding. Many people start a podcast every day, so you may find it challenging to find those that provide you with value.

Today, I will show you how to listen to podcasts, what a podcast is, and which podcast apps to get. In the end, you should be able to listen to podcasts anytime and anywhere for free.

Spotify podcast ad

Best Podcast Apps

Below are the best podcast apps that you can download and use today.

1. Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts is compatible with Android and iOS, including the Apple Car Play. It offers variable speed playback, and you can expect the app to give you curated content based on your history.

You also get to enjoy extra tools like switching the background between light and dark modes. There is a split view and even a picture-in-picture feature.

You can queue the podcasts that you want to listen to and then play the podcasts slower or faster according to your preferences. The fastest speed is 3x.

2. Spotify

Spotify has made it made its mark in the world of podcasting. It is best for people who want to listen to music. The good news about Spotify is that it is free to use. However, you will get bombarded with ads. Think of it as the YouTube of music.

With Spotify, you can search podcasts from the search bar, you can also make your own playlist and then share it to your friends. One thing you will like about Spotify is that you can use the app even if you are offline.

For example, let us say that you lost your internet connection. If this happens, you can still listen to what you are listening to. You can get Spotify on several devices, but like Netflix, there is a limitation based on your subscription level.

3. Audible

Audible is the go-to podcast app for people who want to listen to talks and audiobooks. People think that it is only for audiobooks, but the company has long expanded to podcasts.

The app makes it easy for you to organize your podcasts. You can find podcasts, segregate new podcasts, and look for new episodes before you start listening.

The good thing about Audible is that they offer exclusive podcasts. What it means is that you will never find these podcasts anywhere else. What I like about audible is that it has an expansive library. There is no way I will find myself running out of suggested podcasts to listen to.

4. Google Podcasts

What I like about Google is that it is compatible with voice commands. And since it is Google that made it, I can rest assured that it has a powerful algorithm to track what I listen to.

The app allows the user to use the power of Google’s search and recommendation algorithm. The podcast app can provide highly personalized recommendations, and it feels like you are using YouTube.

It is also easy to build a podcast library and add episodes. Google podcasts offer a lot of channels, so I can guarantee that there is one for everybody. The app is easy to manage, and it is ideal for people who use Google Assistant.

The thing is that it is not ideal for those who are not on the Android platform. It still has bugs that Google has to fix. There is also a limitation with how you can use it on a desktop.

5. Apple Podcasts app

I recommend the Apple podcasts app to Apple users, obviously. There are more than 500,000 podcasts here, and it is great for people who want an experience that syncs with their Apple universe.

The app is smart—the more you listen, the more it knows what you want. Eventually, it will provide suggested podcasts based on your listening history. What the algorithm does is curate a list of other podcasts that are highly similar to what you listen to.

Although similar apps do this, Apple has nailed its algorithms. Then, there is exclusivity. Many podcasters who use the Apple distribution network do not launch their podcasts on other platforms.

You can listen to the podcast for free, but then you will also get to see several advertisements. These ads, of course, can be annoying sometimes. If you do not like ads, you must pay for a subscription.

It is also possible to listen to podcasts offline. And since it is an Apple service, it is superbly compatible with Apple Watch, Apple TV, Apple Car Play, and Siri.

Like Google, it is not an ideal app for people who have Android phones. If you are using an Android phone or tablet, forget about it. In addition, one con I see is that there are many ads. Many people who use the Apple podcasts app eventually subscribe just to get rid of the ads.

How to Find the Best Podcasts

There are so many podcasts out there—you cannot listen to them all. Below are my tips on how to listen to podcasts without wasting your time.

First, read podcast newsletters and blogs. There are many writers out there who can give you a podcast channel recommendation based on their experience.

Here are some examples:

  • Wil Williams Reviews
  • Podcast Gumbo
  • Podnews
  • Hurt Your Brain
  • Great British Podcasts
  • Podcast Delivery
  • This Week in Podcasts
  • Due Credit
  • The Venn

Some are genre-specific or niche-specific. For example, Due Credit provides its readers with a list of excellent podcast channels about the news, while The Venn focuses on politics-oriented podcasts.

Second, search for “best of.” You can go to a search engine like Google and search for “best US political podcasts” or “best science podcasts.” You will find a plethora of blogs written about them. You can bookmark the list and listen to each podcast to find out if you like it or not.

The third and last method I would recommend is to ask people. You can go to Reddit or Quora and then post a question. Wait until somebody provides you with a list. Make sure you ask a specific question, like what genre of the podcast you are looking for.

image of Spotify log in page

How to Listen to a Podcast on Any Smartphone

To listen to any smartphone, download Google Podcast. Most podcasts are free to listen to. From here, choose the category you want, and then start listening to a podcast episode.

If you are using an Apple device, it is better to listen to apple podcasts than google podcasts. iOS comes with a built-in app called Apple podcasts. Use the directory or the search bar to find what you are looking for.

If you are using an Android phone, Google Podcasts is a good choice. However, this podcast app is new, so the choices are also limited. You are better off downloading the Spotify app if you are looking for variation.

How to Listen to Podcasts on Your Computer/Website

Many podcasts have a web browser player. As such, listening to podcasts is easy. For example, just go to Spotify’s website and log in, then listen as you normally would. You no longer have to download the Spotify app on your desktop.

On Microsoft Windows, the operating system is also now using apps. You can get an app like Spotify from the Microsoft Store and install it if that is what you want.

How to Listen to Podcasts in the Car

The most common option for listening to a podcast in a car is through Bluetooth. Cars today allow you to connect your phone to speakers via Bluetooth. This speaker is called a smart speaker.

After connecting the car’s audio to your phone, you can launch your podcasts app and find the podcasts you want. Of course, your phone must have an internet connection so you can connect to the podcast server and listen to podcasts or find the latest episode of your favorite channel.

image of Apple podcast homepage

Listen to Podcasts Using Voice Assistance & a Smart Speaker

Podcast listening is possible with your smart speaker. Google, Alexa, and even Siri can do this for you. However, you still need to have a podcast account. For example, you must have a podcast account with Spotify.

To set it up, you must link your Spotify app with your smart speaker. You can do this with:

  • Opening the smart app
  • Going to services or apps
  • Tap Podcasts
  • Link your podcast account

Once all these are done, you can easily tell the app to “listen to Joe Rogan on Spotify.” The smart app will open the Spotify app and then launch the podcast. You can also issue commands like “play next episode,” “previous episode,” and others. You no longer have to tap the play button.

A smart speaker is just one way how to listen to podcasts—it is, however, the most convenient, provided that you set up your house to be a smart home.

How Do I Subscribe to a Podcast?

Subscribing to your favorite podcasts is easy. The way these podcast apps work are similar to YouTube. Just go to the podcast page of the podcast channel you like, then tap the subscribe button. Take note that a subscription can cost money. The average cost is between $3 and $15 per month.

How to Watch a Podcast

You can only watch a podcast if the host launched the podcast in video format and only on a website—mostly YouTube. Typically, a podcast platform like Spotify does not offer video—you can only play podcasts in audio form.

How to Delete Podcasts

Certainly, you want to delete podcasts to make way for new episodes. To do this, just tap and hold the podcast episode from the podcast app and then tap on “delete.”

You do not have to delete a podcast episode all the time. You should only do this if you download podcast episodes. Most of the time, people listen to podcasts on streaming mode, not as downloaded audio files.

How to Find Podcasts

To find podcasts, you can use a search engine or the search function of the podcast app. Take note that you cannot listen to a podcast from a podcast app unless you sign up and become a member.

How to Download or Stream Podcasts

You can listen to podcasts if you stream or download them. In streaming, you are connected to the podcast server online and watching it while your internet is connected.

The download is different. The podcast file stays on your phone, and you can listen to the select podcasts you downloaded.

Some apps automatically download the latest episodes to your device, but I do not recommend this. If you automatically download it, it will eat up your phone’s storage.

To stream, just tap on the play button on the app after selecting the latest episode you want. If you want to download, there is a download link in all podcast episodes.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts

Subscribing to a podcast is easy. Just go to the podcast app, launch it, and look for the podcast channel you like. Tap that channel, and you will see a subscribe button that you can tap.

Wrap Up

Now that you know how to listen to podcasts, the next step is to download a podcast app. There are many podcast apps to choose from, like Google, Apple podcasts, and Spotify.

If you want to know the best channel, you can always search for podcast statistics to see who is the current leader of the industry. Eventually, you may want to create a podcast yourself. In that case, we have a lot of information to share with you, like how to record a podcast or what podcast software to use.

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