Just when everyone started to think that Apple had stopped caring about podcasts, they released their free iOS podcatcher simply named Podcasts. This free app is optimized to work on both iPhones and iPads, and it features a bizarre reel-to-reel aesthetic. While you can’t beat the price, it isn’t exactly competitive feature-for-feature with other podcasting clients. In fact, many people have derided the client for its inability to remember what has been played. Also, you’d think that Apple would have syncing down pat at this point, but issues have been reported widely.
You can subscribe to, stream, and download podcasts in Instacast and Instacast HD. It syncs your played/unplayed status over iCloud, so you can use the app on multiple devices. The iPhone version costs $1.99 USD, but the iPad version will run you $4.99 USD. The iPad version even offers push notifications as soon as a new episode is available. When you tap the notification, it will launch the app, and the episode will start downloading. It even works with for-pay podcasts because it accepts HTTP authentication. This is my podcatcher of choice, and this is the app I recommend to friends.
If you’re using both iPhone/iPod touch and an iPad, Downcast is more affordable. For only $1.99 USD, you get a universal app. If you buy both versions of Instacast, you’ll end up spending $6.98 USD. Downcast is roughly equal to Instacast on the feature front, but I feel that the user interface is less refined. If you’re more concerned about price, and less concerned about UI, Downcast is probably the app for you.