The standalone Podcasts app by Apple that was released last year has received its first major update. Previously, it just got a few minor updates to fix crashing issues, but the change log this time is a bit more substantial. Has it ever bothered you that while it is possible to easily organize songs into different playlists, the same can’t be done for podcasts? For instance I like catching up with football news while coming to work in the morning, while my evening listening sessions are all about informative shows. So, instead of manually selecting each episode, now I can take advantage of the new ‘My Stations’ feature to group particular podcasts together. The update has also added support for temporary stations, which can help people who don’t want to disrupt their playlist for a single episode. The overall look and feel of the app has been enhanced as well, and so has the iCloud syncing features.
Podcasts appears to have just discovered badges, and it makes full use of them in every area possible. There is a new ‘Downloads’ section in the app, where all the episodes that are currently being downloaded are listed. This section has a badge of its own. If you are in grid mode on the ‘My Podcasts’ page, the app has badges for unplayed shows for each. A bit annoyingly, the badge for total unplayed episodes even appears on the app icon on your SpringBoard, but it can be disabled this is through the Notifications menu of the stock Settings app.
In addition to the general UI changes, the playback controls in the ‘Now Playing’ section are more conveniently placed in the updated app. You no longer have to slide the album art upwards to reveal these options, as a single tap does the trick.
While these small changes are undoubtedly useful, the real big thing about the Podcasts update is the revamped ‘Stations’ concept. The ‘On-The-Go’ list can be used to add individual episodes to the playing queue, while grouping some podcasts together calls for a new station to be made. Each station can be configured to include only certain media types, or to display unplayed episodes. For those who liked things as they previously were, there is still the ‘All Unplayed’ list in the My Stations tab. Like other areas of the app, Stations are synced over iCloud as well, so that you can enjoy your playlists across multiple devices.
As before, Podcasts 1.2 is a free and universal app. If you are already using it, look for the update in the App Store, while new users can give it a go by following the link below.