I’m glad it’s finally here, because this interim period has been a bit of a hassle. Starting late last week, I was no longer able to download new podcasts to my iPod touch (my preferred device for the medium). Now a few days after transitioning my podcast habit to my iPhone 4S, the Podcasts app has now arrived in the App Store.
My initial assessment? As a podcast fanatic who averages about 30 downloads and listens per week, I still prefer going to iTunes for my fix (or at least have that option remain). For starters, as I don’t subscribe to most of my Podcasts but download them a la carte via Wi-Fi, I like having the option to view my existing library of podcasts from a publishers on one screen, and then tap an icon to download more titles from that provider. I do not see that capability in the app – or at least it is not prominently or obviously featured.
The graphic interface that showcases icons and logos of the top podcasters, as well as podcasts that I own, is beautiful. However, this is slowing down my ability to sort through categories and helping me locate what I’m already looking for. Of course, I could be overly reliant on a less efficient process and fear change. But speaking personally, if I had my druthers, I’d rather revert to the old process.
Great app for newcomers
Having said all that, for newcomers to podcasts or the 99+ percent of the population that is not as obsessive as me, the Podcasts app will be a welcome and reliable way to embrace a medium they should have been enjoying for six years now.
The large program graphics one encounters while browsing is a welcome utility to users who want to kick the tires and find programs that might interest them. Search seems to be at least as reliable within the app as to what is found in iTunes.
Admittedly, the way a user’s existing library is displayed in the app is stunning. This helps users of any level locate and appreciate podcasts they already own.
As is the case with “read later” and turn-by-turn navigation apps that may get killed when Apple unveils iOS 6 this fall, there are a number of third-party podcast clients that may suffer here. While I’ve been a fan of Stitcher Radio, it seems to be the most exposed title in the App Store (thankfully for Stitcher, it remains a great resource for Android and other platforms).
Similar apps like Podcast Pro have already been removed from the App Store. Their demise now seems logical, and don’t expect a new third-party podcast app – despite the Apple app’s noted shortcomings – to emerge anytime soon.