Apple releases Podcasts app for iOS

iOS users can now get their first taste of an iOS 6 feature, with the new Podcasts app from Apple.
Until now, podcasts have been awkwardly stuck into the Music app, and while you could get new podcasts, it was only possible through the iTunes app.

That’s all changed with the new app that gives you a complete podcast experience, with some neat features to boot. You might think an additional app is unnecessary, but if you do listen to podcasts regularly, I think you’ll find it a much more streamlined experience. Read on for our hands on review.

Library and subscription settings

Your podcast library appears automatically – in fact you’ll still be able to see them in the music app too. The new library view is much more attractive, and you can move the podcast images around so your favorites are always on top. Touching the Catalog button lets you search for new podcasts, and you can also find them in the Top Stations tab, which works like an old radio dial.

Touching a podcast thumbnail lets you browse the episodes you have, and you can also alter the settings for each subscription. This is the main improvement for me – you can choose to auto-download podcasts when they are available, choose how many episodes you want to keep and how you want them ordered. It’s a huge improvement over the system in the Music app.

The new podcasts player

When you’re listening to a podcast, you see the all-new player interface. Drag the image up to reveal the tape mechanism below it, which gives you speed controls, sharing options, navigation and the fantastic sleep timer. The interface is really easy to use and it’s interesting to see new buttons – could this be a preview of what’s to come in iOS 6?

I have to take issue with the reel-to-reel tape interface, which seems at odds with the retro radio dial elsewhere in the app. Is it an old reel-to-reel player or an old radio?

This ‘interface design imitating life’ is spreading all around Apple’s software at the moment (it’s called skeuomorphism, and you can read more about it here), Personally I don’t like this trend in design, but I can admit it doesn’t make this Podcasts app any harder to use.

Check out the new Podcasts app, and tell us what you think!

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