The iPhone podcast app Castro has a lot more competition in the market nowadays since I first reviewed it back in 2013. Arguably, Castro is still the most visually appealing of the current crowd and the developers are currently working on the next major version of the app, Castro 2. In the meantime, the developers have released Castro 1.5 with some new features and a new pricing model. Following Overcast’s lead, Castro is now completely free for all to download. The company is moving to a patronage model.

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With no obligation to do so, you can optionally sign up to support development of the app for $3 for 3 months, $6 for six months and $12 for 12 months. The ‘subscription’ does not auto-renew and it doesn’t unlock any premium features either. It’s just a way to support the app’s continued development. The idea is the dedicated fanbase can subsidize the masses financially, bringing in more repeat revenue than a normal paid app or freemium model can offer.

In terms of new features, Castro now integrates with the iOS 9 Spotlight index to show podcast episodes right from the iOS search screen. It’s a nice convenience to be able to search podcasts from the same view in which you find apps or songs. Castro now includes extensive support for 3D Touch — both Peek and Pop and Home screen app icon shortcuts. You can also quickly play a random episode in your queue with the Lucky Dip Quick Action, which is a fun addition.

Castro is available for free on the App Store.

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