Pocket Casts, widely hailed as the best podcasts app around, is coming to Amazon's Echo smart speakers. An Alexa skill is a natural progression for the premium app, allowing users to pick up where they left off on their smartphone at home. Using a series of voice commands, you'll be able to continue listening on your Echo device, ask for a recommendation, request a random podcast, or play the latest episode of your favorite show. Of course, you can currently beam audio from Pocket Casts to smart speakers like Google Home (via Cast) and the HomePod (via AirPlay 2), but the Alexa skill lets you go hands-free.
It follows a major update to the app in November -- just months after its acquisition by a collective of public radio stations, including NPR -- that brought with it Siri Shortcuts, enabling iPhone users to set up voice prompts. Other notable features included episode search and improved syncing across mobile and desktop. The app costs costs $3.99 on iOS and Android and $9 on the web.
Beyond Pocket Casts on Echo, users of rival smart speakers can also fire up podcasts using just their voice. Google Home, for instance, syncs up with the dedicated Google Podcasts app to let you request playback from Assistant. And Siri on HomePod lets you listen to any show in Apple's massive podcasts library.