When Apple first launched the iPhone, all of your music, videos and podcasts sat somewhat uncomfortably in one big ‘iPod’ app. In iOS 5, videos got their own app and the ‘iPod’ app became ‘Music’, but that still included Podcasts.
Now, Apple has set Podcasts free in its own app, a free download for all iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad). It synchronises with iTunes on the desktop, but also integrates the podcast catalogue from the iTunes app, meaning you don’t have to leave the app to find new podcasts.
The main difference is that, by default, you get nice big cover pictures of each podcast on the home screen, rather than the list view of the old app, but scrolling down slightly uncovers a button to enable to list view should you wish, along with a search field and an edit button to remove any unwanted podcasts.
Tapping the podcast gives you a list of episodes that have been downloaded to the device, and an indicator showing those that have not yet been listened to, as before. But you can now also see the podcast description, and each episode also has an information button showing the duration, size and its description as well. You can also email, text or tweet links to podcasts from within the app.
When playing podcasts, as well as the previous, next and play/pause buttons there’s also a button to rewind 30 seconds – great if you’re listening to a podcast and get interrupted before you have chance to hit pause.
There’s also a ‘Top Stations’ tab, which allows you to quickly discover new podcasts by browsing interests, using a radio dial interface. It’s a bit odd, and probably not something I’d use myself, but it’s there if you fancy something different. It takes a couple of minutes to download information on its first run.
On the whole, I’m pleased with the new app. It’s much better at managing podcasts than the Music app, which felt like a tacked-on feature. It’s a free download from the iOS App Store.