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From its days as a pedestrian tab in Music to its clunky, crashy standalone app, Apple has never given podcasts the attention they deserve. A number of top-notch developers have expertly picked up Apple's slack, so when we heard that the makers of the popular RSS reader Feed Wrangler had taken a crack at it, we naturally couldn't wait to check it out. There are essentially three main things that make up a decent podcast app: clean navigation, easy discovery, and seamless listening. Pod Wrangler dutifully checks off each of these boxes, with an utterly simple approach that gives it a leg up on its competitors.
Pod Wrangler's built-in database lets you search, subscribe, and stream podcasts with ease. From the thin fonts to the back gesture, its interface is all dressed up for iOS 7, so much so that it almost feels like a redesign of Podcasts. Its library shows a neat list of your subscriptions, along with a series of folders that automatically sort downloaded and unheard episodes. Stocking your library with new shows is as easy as pressing the "Add" button, which also offers support for URL-based mp3s and RSS feeds.
Streamed podcasts are virtually indiscernible from downloaded ones, and Pod Wrangler takes advantage of iOS 7's background app refreshing to automatically sync and download new episodes for seamless offline listening. We ran into a five-subscription limit using the free version of Pod Wrangler, but a reasonable $1.99 in-app purchase removes the restriction (along with the ads).
While we appreciate the iOS 7-centric design, we had some initial trouble finding our way around the overly simple interface. Also, a now-playing bar was a constant distraction at the bottom of the screen, and we would have liked the ability to create our own folders (or at least delete the ones forced upon us), but Pod Wrangler offers very little control over the interface.
The bottom line. Pod Wrangler might not offer anything your favorite podcasting app doesn't, but its fresh interface is enough to warrant giving it a look.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later
Simple, uncluttered interface. Instant high-quality streaming. Backgrounds syncing and downloading.
Few features. Some navigation issues. Limited organization.