Apple's built-in iPod app has always left something to be desired when dealing with podcasts, as downloads still aren't automatic and there are very few features dedicated to podcast listening in the first place. Downcast is the podcatcher and player that the built-in app ought to be, adding a bunch of great new features that make it the perfect alternative.Unlike the iPod app, you can search for and add podcasts directly from the app. New episodes download automatically (even in the background, on newer devices), and you can manually download older episodes as well. You don't have to download if you don't want to — you can just stream an episode if that's better for you. If you can't find the podcast you're looking for via search, it can be added manually with a URL. When listening you have the same playback controls you have in any app, along with the ability to vary your scrubbing speed. Additionally you get AirPlay support for both audio and video, the option to rename podcasts (for when they have really long, annoying names), set a sleep timer, and a lot more.
What's probably one of the coolest features, however, is the gesture support. If you're in bed, in the car, or just can't really look at your iPhone's screen, you can use Downcast's gestures to toggle playback, move back and forward in the podcast, and mark an episode as played or unplayed.
If you're a heavy podcast listener, it's definitely worth the $2.49. The only downside is that it doesn't integrate directly with the iPod app, but that's not Downcast's fault and a very minor inconvenience when compared to all the great things it can do.