Podcasts grew in popularity almost as soon as the original iPod was launched (hence the name “Podcast”), and since then, they have become an integral part of many people’s mornings (or days). So, it is rather surprising to see that it took Apple this long to release an official, standalone app for podcasts. The new Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad makes sure that the audio and video feeds have finally parted ways from the stock Music app. Although there is still that podcasts options in the More section of the Music app, one can’t help but wonder how much longer it will stay there now. Apple’s Podcasts app, which has been released prior to iOS 6, does not bring some magical new functionality to the mix, but it is a pretty nice way of streamlining your podcast collection and subscriptions. Not only does Podcasts neatly categorize all your downloads in one place, it also makes it really easy to find new and interesting podcasts/channels quickly.
If you already have podcasts in your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch’s library, they can be imported to the app pretty easily. The Podcasts app also enjoys smooth iTunes syncing. All the episodes that are already in your library will appear in the Podcasts section of the app, but the real innovation is apparent in Top Stations menu. This section of the Podcasts app lets users discover some of the best channels out there in the iTunes store. From the top bar, it is possible to switch between finding audio and video variants. Once you have made that choice, the next step is to navigate to the channel that interests you the most. Rather than listing categories in the boring, old manner, Podcasts has an analog radio-like interface. By swiping across the upper portion of the category bar, you can change the genre of channels, while the lower section lists the subcategories of a genre. You can go through all the channels that fall under a given subcategory by swiping vertically on the screen.
Apple’s Podcasts comes with seamless iTunes store integration, and you can jump to the podcasts store at any time you want. New episodes can be synced via the desktop iTunes client, and you can also choose to download them via the iOS podcasts store or even right from within the app! In case you are looking to just stream a podcast, the app offers a rather nice player that will let you control the volume of the feed, and you can also choose to skip forward or backward thanks to the 5 control buttons available in the app. Podcasts lets you manage your subscriptions pretty decently as well, and you can view any episode’s information from within the app.
The app is just about perfect for podcast fans. Podcasts is a universal app, and you can download it for your iDevice free of charge.