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How to download and listen to podcasts on Android or iOS

The saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” applies to lots of things. Milk and cookies, Horse racing and big hats, Beyonce and Jay-Z, the 1919 Chicago White Sox. It also applies to podcasts and smartphones.

Yes, podcasts let you listen (and re-listen) to your favorite radio programs at your own pace from just about anywhere. They elevate your smartphone’s status from convenient to downright essential. Podcasts can improve your evening commute, make Sunday chores enjoyable, and give you the knowledge necessary to out-smart your friends on trivia night.

Thanks to the increasing amount of podcasts (iTunes has hundereds of thousands of them) there’s a podcast on just about every topic imaginable. Of course, the ginormous library can present challenges. With so many out there, finding the best podcast for your 45 minute bus ride can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we assembled a list of the best podcasts for Android and iOS.

That, however, doesn’t solve the big problem: How, exactly, do you download and listen to podcasts? This how-to guide will show, step-by-step, how to download and listen to Podcasts on your Android and iOS device. 

This article was originally published on October 10, 2012 and updated to reflect recent software changes. Andy Boxall contributed to this guide.


There are two ways to download apps on your Android. Take note: using mass storage allows users to download podcasts directly from websites. For Android users, this isn’t the fastest method and it won’t let you subscribe to RSS feeds (which will automatically download new podcasts to your Android device), but it does allow users to bypass third-party apps, like Podcast Republic and Podcast Addict, by downloading apps directly to your computer’s desktop.

Option 1: Mass storage

1. Download podcast from website (it might take a few minutes to download).


2. The newly downloaded podcast will be stored to your computer’s Downloads folder.

3. Connect your phone to your PC using a USB cable. A prompt will appear asking you to select either disk drive or mass storage. Select Mass Storage.

4. Drag your desired podcasts episodes from the computer’s Downloads folder to your Android icon on your desktop. That action will copy your podcast to your phone’s internal storage.

5. Disconnect your phone as usual. The podcast will be ready to access on your Android’s default music player.

Note: If your Android’s default music player is iTunes, managing podcasts is a bit trickier. To download and manage your podcast collection, you’ll need software that syncs your iTunes account with your Android. A good option is Sailing Media Sync.

Option 2: Android podcast apps

If you want to download, subscribe, and listen to podcasts on the fly, then you’ll want a a good third-party app from Google Play. There’s an obvious benefit to downloading an Android-specific podcast app: you’ll be able to manage, subscribe, and listen to podcasts without using your computer. Using a third party app is more convenient and much faster.

There are a handful of terrific apps out there that let you download and manage podcasts directly from your mobile device. We’re partial to the simple and incredibly easy to use free apps Podcast Addict and Podcast Republic.

An alternative is Pocket Casts ($4). It has everything we want in a podcast player, a huge library, a trending podcast chart, and a clean interface that makes it easy to manage your subscriptions. It also lets you sync between devices and works with iOS.


Subscribing to podcasts on your iPhone is easy and convenient. Like Google Play, the App Store has a handful of terrific apps that have a nice UI.

Option 1: Using iTunes on Mac/PC

1. Open iTunes. Go to the iTunes store. On the homepage, choose Podcasts from the menu bar located below the player icon. That action will take you to iTunes Store podcast library. From here you can browse, subscribe, and download podcasts.

iTunes Store Podcasts

2. iTunes allows users to download single podcasts or subscribe to RSS feeds. Subscribing to podcasts will automatically download every new podcast from that specific publisher. Find your desired podcast then select the price icon. Luckily, most podcasts are free. The podcast will automatically download into your iTunes podcast folder.

3. Connect your iPhone, iPod, or iPad to your computer by USB or by Wi-Fi. When your device is successfully connected, an icon will appear in the upper right corner of the iTunes menu bar.

3. Click on the icon of your iOS device. Select Podcasts from the iOS device menu bar. If you’d like to automatically sync podcasts, select the box labeled Sync Podcasts.

iTunes phone podcasts

4. Now, all of your unplayed podcasts will automatically sync with your iOS device. You can also refine which podcasts are synced with your phone with the two drop-down menus.

iPhone podcasts selected

Option 2: iOS Podcast Apps

First, lets deal with Apple’s official Podcasts app. . With your podcasts synced from iTunes, here’s how to listen to them. Take note: if you don’t have Apple’s Podcasts app installed, your podcasts can be found in the iOS native music app.

1. The iOS specific Podcasts app can be found in the App Store. Open the Podcast app, you’ll find podcasts laid out as tiles. Tapping the tile will bring up a list from which you can select your episode of choice.

2. Tapping the star icon on the bottom of your screen will open the iTunes Podcast store, where you can download and subscribe to new ‘casts too.

Apple’s own Podcast app isn’t particularly popular, but definitely does the job. There are, however, a good selection of third-party apps that have a reputation for providing a better interface. As mentioned before, the cross-platform podcast app, Pocket Casts ($4) is one of the best. There are also several free apps that manage podcasts nicely, including TuneIn Radio and RSS Radio. Both free apps have other features, including live radio.

If you have a preferred Android or iOS podcast app, feel free to share it with us in the comments below.