Podcasts were a great thing when they first debuted. It was great to listen to these recordings about subjects you were interested in. Yet, the more iTunes came up with other interesting things they were developing, the more podcasts began to take a back seat, being relegated to the “More” section in the iOS app.
Suddenly podcasts are picking up more steam with Apple deciding they deserved their own app. They’re no longer need to be forgotten, but can be once again utilized and enjoyed. The Podcasts app was released without any fanfare from Apple, and it is available at the App Store for free.
One you install the Podcasts app, it opens with your Podcasts that have already been downloaded or subscribed to already loaded in. Even if you’ve long forgotten about ones that you had once enjoyed, they’re still there, unless you had unsubscribed or deleted them. Additionally, there’s an option to have your titles displayed as icons or in a list that includes descriptions of the available choices. To “shop” for more titles, click on Catalog.
Shopping for more Podcasts looks just the same as shopping for apps, music, or movies. The page opens with a look at a few of the featured podcasts, then shows you a selection of podcasts that are “new and noteworthy,’ and has other options at the bottom for highlighting a “starter pack” and “episode of the day.” There is also a “redeem” button indicating that while podcasts for the most part are free at the current time, this might not always be the case.
Showing on both the Home screen and the Store is an option to have it show you the Top Stations that others are listening to or watching. To move along through the genres, it has the appearance of moving through an old-fashioned radio dial. There’s a button at the top to choose audio or video podcasts.
Once you choose the podcasts you want to listen to or watch from the Home screen, it will give you options of the episodes that are available for download. From this screen, you can also manage your subscription and choose how it will be listed. There is also an option for choosing whether or not to have the episodes automatically download.
While playing a video podcast gives you the same options you would have if you were playing a movie, TV show, or music video in iTunes, the audio podcasts have some different options, such as rewinding back ten seconds and forwarding thirty seconds. Additionally, it includes an option for AirPlay, just as the the video podcast does, so that you can watch or listen on your HDTV.
It’s not clear why Apple decided to very unceremoniously release this app, yet it’s a welcome surprise. It once again highlights the podcast media that can be used educationally or just enjoyed recreationally. It will most likely bring both old and new fans back to the medium.