(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

Despite the constant river of streaming services, video games, social networks, and other entertainment to fill up your leisure time, good podcasts remain a steady draw, though that may be because the overwhelming majority of them are free. But despite their compelling value, it's sometimes difficult to navigate through your options and keep your downloads sorted.

Pocket Casts has been a popular podcast app over the years, but it's upped its game further with version 7, releasing today for iOS and Android, as spotted by The Verge. At the top of the feature list (by both Pocket Casts' estimation and ours) is the ability to browse series and episodes without needing to subscribe.

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Thanks to the new Discover tool, you can navigate in multiple ways: there's a Featured section curated by the Pocket Casts crew, plus sections labeled Trending, Top, Nearby, Networks, and Categories.

As you might expect, Pocket Cast's Top section is heavily populated by the usual suspects: "This American Life," "Radiolab," "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History," "Planet Money," and "TED Radio Hour," to name but a few; the full list is 100 podcasts long, so you're bound to find something that suits your interests. If not, the app also boasts a respectable search function that should help guide you to something good.

When you subscribe to a podcast in Pocket Casts, a new set of options show up. For example, you can view the descriptions for previous podcasts, sort them alphabetically or chronologically, share links with others, place episodes in a queue, bookmark your favorites, cast episodes to another nearby device, and even stream episodes instead of downloading them to your device.

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This last one is an especially interesting and welcome perk, as it could help people who buy their phones and tablets on a budget and can't afford the options that have a lot of storage space.

That said, Pocket Casts costs $4, so it's up against a lot of free competition. But that's $4 to keep it forever and to support the continued development of a pretty sleek and highly functional app. There are actually so many settings available that you could spend an hour just tweaking the app's behavior. That said, its default settings should be fine for most users.

For folks who want more customization, you can do things like set an exact number of seconds that you want a podcast to skip when you tap the fast-forward button; toggle "dark" and "extra dark" themes for late-night use; import and export podcast subscription lists; and decide how the app behaves on Wi-Fi versus a mobile data connection.

Whether you have a phone with an unlimited plan and loads of file storage, or a tablet with no SIM card and minimal free space, you can tailor the app appropriately. So while Pocket Casts isn't free, its maker is arguably working hard for your money.

Takeaways

  • The popular podcast app Pocket Cast brings a number of cool new features to iOS and Android with version 7, including a Discovery browsing tool, a streaming option, and multiple dark themes.
  • Pocket Casts is $4, but you pay once and keep it forever, and it's arguably worth the modest fee.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.