This isn't the first time the public has had access to Pocket Casts' beta programs. The company previously ran a closed beta for Android users, and anyone who paid for the web app also has access to an open beta for that version of the player. The company also has Mac and Windows 10 betas available.
It's likely not a coincidence that this announcement comes on the heels of Google's introduction of its own app, called Google Podcasts. It's stylish, to be sure, but isn't exactly a great solution for people who listen to a lot of podcasts, according to Engadget Managing Editor Terrence O'Brien. The public beta is just extra incentive for users who already love Pocket Casts to stay loyal to the app through access to public betas.