Podcasts have been a part of the iTunes app for many years but until now there has been only minimal support from Apple within the iOS universe. Before, podcasts could be accessed by syncing from iTunes, or using one of many third party apps. With the addition of a podcast app from Apple, we can now have access to the same list of on iTunes as well as our, in some cases, extensive list of casts that we subscribe to.
When you first start the app, it will give you a large grid of casts that you are currently subscribed to through iTunes. Tapping a button will show you a list of episodes to watch. Throughout the app, you can choose stream casts from the internet, or download them for offline use. The downloading is sent to the iTunes app which makes it a bit awkward if you need to stop a download or see its progress.
If you are looking to expand you subscription list, you can hit the Catalog button on the main screen to browses iTunes’ expansive list of shows. You can stream episodes without subscribing, or add them to your list. Subscribing to a cast does not automatically download any of the episodes. It simply adds that cast to the front screen. The rest of the catalog is very similar to the iTunes store app interface. There are lists for featured and top casts to help you locate popular casts.
Finally we come to the other tab which is Top Stations. While this could have been a repeat of the list from the catalog, Apple decided to add a radio style dial to the top that scrolls through the different subject types and then presents you with a vertical list of casts from that subject. I found the interface difficult to use, and would return to the catalog for faster discovery.
It is good to see Apple is filling in the blanks in their app catalog and for people who are new to podcasts, the official app seem to be a quick and easy way to dive into the media. On the other hand, this app feels like it was a hacked together project to push something out the door. The features are minimal, there is almost no support for social sharing, and the Top Stations tab seems like it was designed to look good in a screenshot instead of actually being used. I have come to expect better from Apple, and for some a late coming app to the iOS universe, I don’t see it being a great solution for pod sat fanatics that have already settled into a third party app that offers more.
We rate this app 3.5 out of 5 stars.