Why Don’t Podcast Apps Have Queueing?

How do most people listen to podcasts? Is it always oldest first? Is it always a specific podcast next? Most people probably pick and choose the next episode to listen to. So why do podcast apps make it so difficult to just pick individual podcasts to queue up for listening?

Downcast offers a hack using it’s smart playlists and “locking” episodes. Essentially a playlist is created for locked episodes and then when an episode is marked as locked it shows on this playlist. The purpose of locking an episode is to keep it from being deleted automatically or deleted by another device and a sync.

But this is just what it is, a hack, and locked status doesn’t sync across devices. In fact it can cause headaches because locking episodes prevents episodes from being deleted elsewhere. So if an episode is locked on iOS, but finished on a Mac it must be manually unlocked or deleted from iOS later. Also because locked status doesn’t sync across devices. So the “queue” can’t be synced across devices. So essentially this queue is locked (pun intended) to an individual device.

Marco Arment’s new podcast app Overcast does a slightly better job. Within a playlist it allows individual episodes to be added. Unfortunately this list pulls from every episode on the device and therefore creates a very long list to survey, assuming that a person has more than 5–10 unplayed episodes at a given time. But at least it provides an option. Although in this case it would make a lot more sense to allow an episode to be added from the episode itself, rather than the playlist. That way the number of episodes on the device does not matter nearly as much. Perhaps this is a simple fix that will be created down the road, but in the meantime it’s lacking.

It is really strange that this so overlooked by developers. It must mean that most people don’t listen to podcasts in this format. But most music apps, including Apple’s own Music app, fail to provide this functionality for music either. Is it because all people just listen to podcasts in chronological order? Or entire albums from start to finish? How do people find so much time to listen? Wouldn’t everyone benefit from a simple queueing system?

How do you listen to podcasts?