It’s been a couple of weeks since Apple launched its standalone Podcasts app and after initially liking it a lot, I’ve already stopped using it and reverted to the standard Music app.
As a standalone app there is a lot going for it. It has a nice menu layout for subscribed podcasts and a snazzy playback screen.
Podcasts in your library are laid out in tiles behind which are those downloaded, options for subscription etc.
During playback clicking on the album art bring up a reel to reel visualisation from which you can scroll the timeline as well as adjust the playback speed using a bunny or tortoise icon as needed.
However there are two key downsides to Podcasts when comparing with the standard Music app.
- It’s so slow. I still have an iPhone 4 so don’t have the horsepower of the iPhone 4S and this app from Apple is really unresponsive. Whether switching menus, scrolling the timeline or simply wanting to stop playback I find the app to take a few screen taps to get the message. It’s not unusual for version updates of iOS and its apps to slow things down, but you’d have thought something as basic as a media player wouldn’t be a problem.
- It doesn’t integrate into iTunes. I let iTunes synching sort out which podcasts get loaded onto the iPhone based on whether I’ve listened to them or not, but the iOS Podcast app is oblivious to this, as it iTunes to it.
Not bad, but room for improvement
Apple’s iOS Podcast app seems to be a fully standalone app. You setup podcast subscriptions, playback and delete from the app without synchronising to iTunes. It’s clearly further support to Apple’s intention of getting more content into the cloud and off the device which all goes to help sever the link between iOS devices and the desktop.
While in principal this is a great thing as iTunes really is in desperate need of an overhaul as it’s been getting too bloated for a while and managing content between multiple devices and formats is pretty poor. Apple has been splitting out the playback components on the iOS platform one by one so you’d assume the same would be happening in OS X. It would come as no surprise if somewhere along the line the Apple Store, Music, Video, Books and Podcasts sections will split out into separate apps.
So all in all, a nice app little app though in need of some improvement around performance and integration with other Apple components – especially great if you want to get away from iTunes and let the app look after your subscriptions without having to sync back to the laptop/desktop.