Spotify has offered the option to listen to podcasts for some while, but until now I’ve preferred to use a dedicated podcasts app. Sadly, my preferred choice – Podcast Republic – has become increasingly erratic of late, prompting me to give Spotify another go. Here, after a couple of weeks of using Spotify for podcasts, is why I’d consider sticking with it – and the things that it’s missing.
What’s good about using Spotify for podcasts?
In no particular order, here are the plus points of listening to podcasts on Spotify (or Spodding™ , as it should surely be called.)
- It keeps all your audio in the same app. No more flicking between different apps for different streams of audio, everything is managed from the same app. The only audio Spotify lacks is live radio. And perhaps audiobooks, although it does have a thin selection.
- Spotify’s library of podcasts is much improved. Until recently, the Spotify podcast library was very thin, concentrating largely on the big American titles. Now it’s become much broader, helped enormously by the BBC adding its vast library to Spotify.
- Podcasts can be downloaded and queued. Just like songs and albums, podcasts can be downloaded for offline listening and put in a play queue. So, if you’ve got a long drive ahead of you with patchy 4G signals on the route, you can download a succession of your favourite shows and have them play back to back.
- You can shuttle back and forth. Spotify’s podcasts have different player controls to music. You can skip back and forth 15 seconds, if someone said something and you didn’t quite catch it or if you want to zoom past an advert. You can also control the playback speed, as I understand there are some mentalists out there who prefer to listen to podcasts at 1.5x or 2x the normal speed so they can consume a whole show on a short commute, for instance.
What’s not so great about listening to podcasts on Spotify?
- There’s no central place to find podcasts. It still feels like podcasts are being shoe-horned into a music app. For instance, to access your library of followed podcasts and to discover new shows, you have to use separate menus. And finding the section to browse new podcasts is a challenge in itself, especially in the mobile app. It feels like podcasts need to be properly fenced off, with a section of their own within the Spotify apps.
- Download options are rudimentary. As mentioned above, you can download podcasts for offline listening, but so far there’s no way to automate those downloads. For example, to have Spotify download the latest episode of your followed podcasts. This is a basic feature of most dedicated podcast apps and something Spotify needs to add pronto.
- Podcast caching needs work. One of the features I love most about Spotify is the way that it caches the next song or two on your playlist before you even listen to them, so that if you wander into a 3G/4G vacuum, the music remains uninterrupted. It needs to do the same with podcasts. Quite often, I find shows dip out when I walk into the mobile signal black hole that is my local Tesco’s store, while music normally carries on regardless.
- Ads. One of the chief selling points of a Spotify subscription is no ads in between music. But because the podcasts have ads embedded in them, you still have to wade through the promos. I’m not sure if there’s an easy solution to this – Spotify can’t strip content from podcasts, after all. It doesn’t offend me greatly, but I can see why some people may resent paying for a subscription and still being subject to ads.
Overall, I’m sticking with Spotify for podcasts, because none of the weaknesses are critical, I prefer the convenience of getting most of my audio in the same app, and I suspect it will continue to improve. Give it a try if you’re a Spotify fan and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Now read this: How do I add music to Spotify?
There are still gaps in the BBC’s output – there are plenty of shows that are only available in the BBC’s Sounds app rather than as podcasts – but that is the same across all podcast apps.