Apple’s new Podcasts app is a welcome step to bringing attention to audio and video podcasts that were previously buried in the Music app. But while it has some good things going for it, it’s a step that’s not yet fully realized.
My colleague, Dan Moren, has written an admirable first look at the Podcasts app, so I needn’t go into extensive detail on how it works. The gist is that this app functions, in many ways, like the iBooks app, complete with ways to listen to podcasts as well as obtain new ones.
Obtaining podcasts is one of the app’s strengths. Whereas in iTunes and in the iTunes Store app, podcasts could be lost among all the store’s other content, the Podcasts app brings such content firmly to the fore. To view available podcasts, simply tap the Catalog button and you’re taken to the store’s collection of podcasts. You can view this in a few ways.
The first is by tapping the Featured button at the bottom of the screen. Do so on an iPhone or iPod touch and you see a few featured slots and then a list of podcasts that include both audio and video offerings. On an iPad there’s a New & Noteworthy area and, currently, a Podcaster Starter Pack section that includes the kind of podcasts—Radiolab, TEDTalks, and This American Life—that those new to podcasting will want to check out.
Tap Top Charts on an iPhone or iPod touch and you see the store’s top ten podcasts—this can include video as well as audio podcasts. On an iPad you see audio and video podcasts listed under separate headings.
You can further narrow your search by tapping a Categories button and choosing a podcast genre such as Arts, Health, Music, News & Politics, or Technology from a list. Do so and the top podcasts for that genre appear. And, of course, if you know what you’re looking for, just use the Search field.
When you’ve found a podcast you’re interested in, tap it and you can subscribe to the podcast, stream an episode, or download an episode. Once you’ve subscribed to a podcast, you can choose the option to auto-download new episodes when they become available as well as sort episodes by newest or oldest first and mark all as played or unplayed. Regrettably, there’s no way to create a playlist of podcast episodes. If you want that kind of functionality you must create those playlists in iTunes and sync your podcast episodes to your iOS device. The playlists will be available within the Music app rather than the Podcasts app.
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