Facts on Fiction: Apps for Unreal Podcasts

At the intersection of podcasting and audiobooks, hosts seek fiction formats

2 min read
Facts on Fiction: Apps for Unreal Podcasts

Fiction podcasts occupy a unique corner of the pod world, closer in some respects to audiobooks than they are to other podcast formats and genres. Fiction presents unique challenges to hosts, platforms and listeners. We've assembled a breakdown of the unique challenges and avenues for fiction fans.

Fiction podcast listeners face challenges due to the lack of optimized features in most podcast apps. Improved sorting, metadata display, and download options can enhance the user experience, making these apps more appealing to new listeners. Developers have made various progress in implementing these (and other) tweaks to capture the fiercely loyal fiction podcast audience.

The biggest issue with most apps is their failure to respect the itunes:type serial</itunes:type> tag, essential for fiction podcasts. Only Apple Podcasts, Podverse, Pocket Casts, Podfriend, Spotify, and a few others handle this well. Apps should also properly format show and episode descriptions, preserve episode-level artwork, and provide off-app links to show websites.

Only one app, Apollo, is custom-built to support fiction podcasts. A free tier offers access to 9,000 public fiction shows, with ads. A premium tier, Apollo+, costs $9.99 per month and unlocks more than 40 ad-free shows and other premium content.

The folks over at The End included Apollo in their roundup of the best fiction apps, but noted that it does have certain limitations.

Other options, listed in order of The End's review:

Apple Podcasts

The End lists them as a top choice for listening to fiction podcasts, thanks to its user-friendly features such as grouping episodes by season and episode numbers, and moving bonus and trailer episodes out of the main story flow, ensuring an uninterrupted and correctly ordered listening experience. However, the app lacks a one-click download option for entire seasons or shows, which would benefit listeners who often face connectivity issues.

Podverse

Ranks second for its grouping and sorting features, although it doesn't display season and episode numbers. Bonus points for being available on iOS, Android, and the web.

Apollo

The fiction-focused app relies on human curation for sorting, making it a good option if your show is included in their selection.

Pocket Casts

Groups episodes by season and displays season and episode numbers but doesn’t move bonus episodes out of the main flow.Preserves episode formatting and offers a one-click download for all episodes, ensuring seamless listening even without internet connectivity.

Podfriend and Amazon Music

Both offer basic features like grouping by season but lack in other areas such as moving bonus episodes and displaying season/episode numbers.

Goodpods

Similar to Amazon Music, groups by season but doesn't excel in other crucial areas.

Final analysis from The End: there's room for improvement across all apps to better serve this unique and growing audience.

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