The new year will bring a new version of Pocket Casts as it works to attract users to its now subscription-free app. “It's currently in beta and will be available in the coming weeks once testing is complete,” said Community and Support Manager Sarah Gusa in a blog post.
Version 7.6 of the app will give users the ability to do more customization of the app, such as allowing them to tailor the player toolbar with the four actions they want within easy reach. A tap layout to make it easier for user to access Show Notes is also part of the refresh. There has also been what Gusa calls a “major revamp” to the Up Next tool. In the past it had been under the Now Playing screen, but in the new version it will get its own screen. That includes what Gusa says has been a much asked-for feature enabling users to multi-select episodes in their queue. That will allow for the checking of several episodes to be downloaded, marked as played or deleted from the queue in bulk. The revamped Up Next screen will also feature how long the queue is with the total time of all the shows in the list displayed alongside a Clear Queue button.
It is not just tools and features that will be refreshed in Pocket Casts’ update. Version 7.6 will also have a new indigo theme.
As 2019 draws to a close, Pocket Casts has a new strategy from when the year began. In September it moved from a paid model that charged users to download the app; it now offers the app for free. In an interview with Podcast News Daily, CEO Owen Grover said the decision to move away from a paid app model was to more closely align Pocket Casts with the open-access model of its public media ownership.
There are still some paid features for users who want to use tools that allow for a more customized experience. The new paid Pocket Casts Plus also offers the ability to use the app on a desktop or laptop computer as well as give users cloud storage so they can save audio and video files for future listening and viewing. The company says the paid version will also have exclusive app icons and themes. The paid version costs 99-cents a month or $10 per year.
Since May 2018, four of the most prominent podcast producers in the U.S, including NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life, have jointly owned Pocket Casts. Those public radio outlets are now promoting the new Pocket Casts with a message that “the best is now free.”