First look: Apple's Podcasts for iOS offers subscriptions, auto-downloads

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's newly released Podcasts application for iOS brings one feature that some users have requested since the iTunes Store first came to iOS: the ability to subscribe to podcasts and also have them automatically download.

Apple's official Podcasts app debuted on Tuesday in the App Store as a free download. Much like Apple previously split music and videos into separate applications, Podcasts for iOS gives downloadable Internet programming its own standalone space, separating it from the iTunes application.

With the new software, users are now presented with a new "Subscribe" link when they access a specific podcast. Subscribing to a podcast through Apple's new Podcasts application will update with newly added content when it's available.

Subscribing to a podcast also gives users the ability to turn on the "Auto-Download" functionality. Once this is enabled, users can choose how many episodes to keep, including "All Episodes," "All Unplayed Episodes," "Most Recent Episode," or up to the last 10 episodes.

Podcasts can also be sorted from newest to oldest or vice versa, and Apple also includes the option to mark all episodes as either played or unplayed.

Podcasts 1


The Podcasts application for iOS also includes the ability to share shows or specific episodes with other users via e-mail, Twitter or text message. Presumably with the launch of iOS 6 this fall, Facebook integration will also become part of the Podcasts application.

To search for podcasts, users tap the "Catalog" button in the upper left. This rotates the screen in the same manner that the digital bookshelf in Apple's iBooks application pulls up the iBookstore.

Once users access the podcast store, they are presented with an interface similar to the iTunes Store application found natively in iOS. There are three sections available to choose: "Featured," "Top Charts" and "Search." A tap of the "Library" button in the top right returns users to the main screen.

Another new feature is the "Top Stations" section found in the library portion of the Podcasts application. Here, a unique user interface in the style of a radio dial allows users to browse and discover podcasts in different categories.

Podcasts 2


Rotating the dial left to right brings up categories in alphabetical order, including "Arts," "Business" and "Comedy." Each of these categories can have a subcategory listed under it. For example, "Business" includes "Business News," "Investing," "Management & Marketing," and "Shopping."

Once a category and subcategory have been selected, the top station for that category is presented on the screen with a large logo. Users can then scroll downward to view the logos for podcasts in this category and discover new content.

Users are now also given the option to either stream an episode over Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection, or download and save the episode to have access to it when a connection may not be available.

Podcasts also features a sleep timer that will automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed, and users can also optionally sync episodes from iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Podcasts 3


Another great feature of the new Podcasts application is syncing of episode playback progress. This means users can pause a podcast on their iPhone, and pick up right where they left off later on their iPad.

One issue exists in the transition of podcasts away from the iOS "Music" application: The "Get More Episodes" link in the "Music" application still opens the iTunes app rather than Podcasts. Episodes downloaded through the Podcasts application still show up in the "Podcasts" section of the native Music app as well, allowing them to be played from either the Music app or the Podcasts app.

At first blush, the new functionality and discoverability offered by Apple's Podcasts application for iOS appears to make it a very worthwhile addition.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Does the app still keep the same 50MB limit previously had through downloading a podcast over cellular?
  • Reply 2 of 30
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Very interesting!

    So how does this App back things up to your Mac? One of the big issues I have with ITunes is not being able to split my Library up onto different volumes. Podcasts can easily take up a lot of space on your disk volume that would be better allocated to other media. So ideally this app would work with something on the Mac so that we can designate a separate storage location for podcasts.

    Before anybody suggests it, no cloud storage is not the answer. There are multiple reasons but being without Internet access for long periods of time is a big one.
  • Reply 3 of 30
    davemcm76davemcm76 Posts: 268member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    One issue exists in the transition of podcasts away from the iOS "Music" application: The "Get More Episodes" link in the "Music" application still opens the iTunes app rather than Podcasts. Episodes downloaded through the Podcasts application still show up in the "Podcasts" section of the native Music app as well, allowing them to be played from either the Music app or the Podcasts app.

    At first blush, the new functionality and discoverability offered by Apple's Podcasts application for iOS appears to make it a very worthwhile addition.


     


    It also currently seems to maintain separate "Mark as Watched" flags between the Music (and Video) and Podcasts apps so if you have a podcast subscription in iTunes that gets synced to your iPhone but you also download and play the same episode through the Podcasts app - say while at work or out and about - the iTunes copy will still get synced as unplayed until you play it through the Music app. It looks like this is also true the other way round so playing a synced podcast episode through Music won't flag that episode as Played in Podcasts...


     


    I'm assuming (hoping!) that this will be fixed in iOS 6 and is because the Music and Video apps need to be updated to integrate better with the Podcasts app which would require an iOS update as they are shipped as part of the OS and is not individually updateable...

  • Reply 4 of 30
    york2york2 Posts: 1member


    I just received the "Item Over 50MB"... message over cellular.

  • Reply 5 of 30


    Please test how it works with Podcast subscriptions that require a userid and password in order to pull down the latest podcasts.  That works well in iTunes.

  • Reply 6 of 30
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    york2 wrote: »
    I just received the "Item Over 50MB"... message over cellular.

    Thanks.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member


    Shame it doesn't let you rate the podcasts you download :(

  • Reply 8 of 30
    shadowxprshadowxpr Posts: 162member
    Loving this app on the iPad TWiT.tv has the best podcast in the world...
  • Reply 9 of 30
    rnbargrnbarg Posts: 1member


    re: "Another great feature of the new Podcasts application is syncing of episode playback progress. This means users can pause a podcast on their iPhone, and pick up right where they left off later on their iPad."


     


    Absolutely no documentation on how this works.  Is it vaporware?  Doesn't JUST WORK.   Does JUST DOESN'T WORK.


     


    Also no feature for syncing the actual choices of podcasts between devices similar do what the syncing via itunes does.  Why not?  Major omission. What's the point of having iCloud of apps don't support it, particularly Apple apps.

  • Reply 10 of 30
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CGJ View Post


    Shame it doesn't let you rate the podcasts you download :(



     


    Yeah, that would be a great addition.


     


    I'm really liking the splitting up of the iTunes features in iOS.  I've been arguing for that in OSX for a while now, even though I know many here are against it.

  • Reply 11 of 30
    djtdjt Posts: 4member


    I just downloaded this app to try. I've been using Instacast for years and well worth the money. Apple's app does not even compare.

  • Reply 12 of 30


    Is it just me, or are iOS apps just easier and more fun to use than on the Mac? Great job, Apple. And thanks! :)


     


    PS. The MacWorld Podcasts, Bill Maher's RealTime and the Diane Rhem Podcasts are just excellent. Especially, Diane's Friday News Roundup, (Domestic/International) 


     


    PSS. Would be very interested in anybody else's rec's. :)

  • Reply 13 of 30
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 717member


    I would enjoy most the ability to sync my podcast listening habits across devices. But that means the iPod nano has to obtain some kind of wireless functionality. I see a lot of people at the Y with these nanos, but the syncing won't work with those. We'll be stuck syncing to iTunes.

  • Reply 14 of 30


    I'm a little bit disappointed.  Despite being on broadband wi-fi, the program is very slow and delayed when browsing podcasts.  Also, many podcasts become marked as "unplayed", an hour or so after completely playing them.  The Onion News seems prone to this.  I also have a "ghost" podcast, with no info in it, that keeps reappearing.


     


    I think this should have been kept til the next OS update.  Syncing with my laptop is also not working, and that may create conflicts who knows where?

  • Reply 15 of 30
    shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    Very interesting!

    So how does this App back things up to your Mac? One of the big issues I have with ITunes is not being able to split my Library up onto different volumes. Podcasts can easily take up a lot of space on your disk volume that would be better allocated to other media. So ideally this app would work with something on the Mac so that we can designate a separate storage location for podcasts.

    Before anybody suggests it, no cloud storage is not the answer. There are multiple reasons but being without Internet access for long periods of time is a big one.


     


    I have the same problem as my iTunes library is over 500GB. It's too big to fit on my hard drive so I have to store it on a portable HDD and copy it to another portable HDD for backup. The option to store your purchases in iCloud and either download or stream them would solve this problem for me but I agree that cloud storage is not the answer for everyone.


     


    I'm wondering if this spells the end for iTunes as an all encompassing application to be replaced by a series of individual apps.

  • Reply 16 of 30


    I think the inability to create or manage playlists or smart playlists of podcasts from within the Podcasts app is a pretty big oversight. It's possible through the Music app, since podcasts still show up there after subscribing in the Podcasts app, but then you miss out on the snazzy new interface.


     


    Subscription and playback position syncing through iCloud, not iTunes, I thought would also be a given.


     


    I'd wish for push notifications for new available episodes, but I don't see that as an absolutely essential feature like I do the preceding two.


     


    Sticking with Instacast!

  • Reply 17 of 30
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member


    Love the TWiT shows.

  • Reply 18 of 30
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Is it just me, or are iOS apps just easier and more fun to use than on the Mac? Great job, Apple. And thanks! :)


     


    PS. The MacWorld Podcasts, Bill Maher's RealTime and the Diane Rhem Podcasts are just excellent. Especially, Diane's Friday News Roundup, (Domestic/International) 


     


    PSS. Would be very interested in anybody else's rec's. :)



     


    If you like tech-related stuff look up "This Week In Tech". They are a lot of fun.

  • Reply 19 of 30
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post


     


    I have the same problem as my iTunes library is over 500GB. It's too big to fit on my hard drive so I have to store it on a portable HDD and copy it to another portable HDD for backup. The option to store your purchases in iCloud and either download or stream them would solve this problem for me but I agree that cloud storage is not the answer for everyone.


     


    I'm wondering if this spells the end for iTunes as an all encompassing application to be replaced by a series of individual apps.



     


    Get a free account at http://music.google.com/


     


    You can upload all of your "legally purchased" music and stream from there, including podcasts.

  • Reply 20 of 30
    irelandireland Posts: 17,783member
    Horrendous app. Pod-catcher developers needn't be worried. Gawd. The whole app is terribly inefficient and laborious.

    And... no iCloud syncing? Seriously!?
Sign In or Register to comment.