Automatically downloads new podcasts in the background
Syncs between different iOS devices and Android devices
Backs everything up to the cloud
Supports Airplay and Chromecast
Storage management features allow you to set how much space the app can use up for downloads
Variable playback speeds
Supports video and audio podcasts
Customize skip and rewind intervals
Easily import and export feeds to and from the app
Discovery mode helps you find new podcasts
Manual and automatic playlist creation
Creates an easily shareable URL that can be opened in any browser
Where It Excels
With so many excellent podcast managers in the App Store, it's hard to set yourself apart. That said, Pocket Casts manages a ton of features with great usability. From the second you first open the app, it's very easy to download new podcasts, start syncing, and start making playlists. The push feature also means you'll always have podcasts ready to go on your device when you open the app with no need to manually refresh.
Even with the push features, Pocket Casts still gives you a lot of control over what episodes are kept. It can automatically delete podcasts after they play, only keep a set number, and only download when you're on Wi-Fi.
The playlist feature in Pocket Casts is also easy to use. You can create custom playlists if you want, but Pocket Casts also generates automatic playlists based on filters you choose. This means you can instantly create playlists of starred podcasts, episode types, partially played podcasts, unplayed podcasts, and more. If you have a ton of podcasts subscriptions, this makes keeping up to date on all of them simple.
Where It Falls Short
Pocket Casts does everything a podcast manager should do and it looks great doing it. The only downfall is the fact it doesn't sync with iTunes or any other desktop manager, which means if you like to also listen to podcasts on your computer, you'll have to manually manage them. It's also missing a continuous play mode that comes in handy on longer drives, but the automatic playlists makes up for that in most cases.
The podcast manager scene has heated up a lot over the years and because of that, you have a ton of excellent options. Our previous pick, Downcast($2.99)is still one of the best podcast managers on iOS. It does nearly everything Pocket Casts does, and only falls short in its design and usability. Downcast is a little clunkier, visually cluttered, and hard to get used to, but it does have a Mac app that it syncs with if you're a fan of listening on your computer. If you've found that Pocket Casts isn't for you, Downcast is an excellent alternative.
Likewise, Overcast (Free/$4.99) is another solid alternative. It does just about everything Downcast and Pocket Casts does, but also adds in a fantastic set of audio options to improve podcast sound. Its main downfall is the lack of a tablet version and streaming options if you don't want to download episodes. Likewise, Instacast ($1.99) is another excellent full-featured podcast manager worth a look if the rest aren't suiting your needs.
For people who don't have a ton of podcasts to manage, we like Castro ($4.99). Castro has a great continuous play option, a ton of settings for data management, a sleep timer, and gestures that make it easy to control while you're on the move. It doesn't do great with a ton of podcasts, but if you're only listening to five or six, or you just have a smaller capacity iOS device, Castro is an excellent pick.
It's also worth mentioning Apple's own Podcasts (Free). Podcasts syncs your subscriptions with iTunes, so if you use that or an Apple TV, it makes syncing pretty simple. Podcasts isn't nearly as fully-featured as anything up above, but it plays podcasts perfectly fine, and if you're deep into the Apple ecosystem is has benefits for using it on other devices.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.