Apple have just released their new Podcasts app.
Following in the wake of iBooks and Video, Podcasts are the latest thing to be disaggregated into its own app.
A quick install and the app recognises the Podcasts you’ve downloaded onto your device and tidies up the imagery. It doesn’t sync (iCloud-stylee) with the iTunes desktop app (probably because subscriptions live within the client and not the Store).
What’s quite nice is that a tap of the podcast brings up some options to convert a downloaded file into a subscription.
And that’s the big upgrade, for the first time Podcasts are available for subscription in App. We know from Fun Kids that mobile Podcast use is becoming the dominant form, allowing inline subscription to increase the volume of downloads and listeners connected to your content is a good thing.
On the app footer are three options – Catalog (hmm – UK language pack needed!), Podcasts (which is the default) and Top Stations.
Catalog pops you into the traditional podcast store look, allowing you to navigate around Featured and Top Charts – providing the cut down versions of what you see in the iTunes desktop version. The key benefit here, again, is the introduction of the ‘Subscribe’ button.
Back to the Footer – the other addition is the ‘Top Stations’ section. This is a little odd. It brings up a radio type tuning interface that runs across the categories. Selecting a vertical means that you can scroll down 4 of the top podcasts from that channel. The data is the same from the Podcasts chart list of a Category in the desktop version of the iTunes Store. Clearly this has driven the demand for the 1400×1400 channel artwork that Apple now ask for.
It just seems a really weird feature. Scrolling through the categories is quite annoying and then you might be disappointed by the small selection of channels shown (why four?). It also re-enforces the dominance of the chart.
This is all from an iPad point of view. A quick look on an iPhone and the smaller form factor makes it seem a little more sensible.
The player gets a bit of an upgrade as well. Some additional visuals of a Reel to Reel player (sigh) and improved navigation of chapterised podcasts.
Overall, any slight issues with design and new functionality is outweighed by the addition of subscriptions to the App and Store. There’s also some great opportunities to add more options to the App in future releases.