Apple releases Podcasts, an app to discover, subscribe and listen to podcasts

Apple has just launched their own podcast app, called simply Podcasts. It's available right now in the App Store and is a universal binary so has specific interfaces for both iPhone and iPod touch, and iPad. It's a great way to listen to all your favorite podcasts, including iMore's and all the Mobile Nations shows.

Download Podcasts from the App Store, launch it, and it will immediately grab all the shows you've already got in your Music app. There are sections for audio and video podcasts, and for featured shows, top charts, and search.

Find an episode you like and you can stream it right in the app, download it to enjoy offline, or subscribe to the podcast so you can more easily get future episodes. (It will be interesting to see how Apple is handling that -- timed wake up and background downloads like Newsstand, which would be unfair in the App Store. But there don't seem to be push notifications for manual download either?)

Like iBooks, you can switch from Catalog (the free store) to Library, where your local podcasts are stored. (You even get the same turn-style animation.)

You can browse your podcasts as a grid filled with cover art, or a column view by show . Pick a show and you can choose between options to subscribe or unsubscribe, enable or disable auto-downloads, sort by newest or oldest, or mark or unmark episodes as played. You can also email, tweet, or iMessage to share shows.

Tap on a show to play it, and you get album art and controls including rewind, skip back 10 seconds, play/pause, skip ahead 30 seconds, and fast forward along with volume and AirPlay.

If you're a fan of retro skeuomorphism, you can tap the album art to rise it up and expose and old fashioned reel-to-reel tape deck along with Apple's famous tortoise and hare speed controls, a time-based scrubber, additional sharing and AirPlay controls, and a sleep timer

Here's what Apple had to say about Podcasts:

Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature.

The iTunes features also say it will sync between devices, so you should be able to start listening on iPhone and continue on iPad.

Free - Download Now

What do you think about Apple releasing its own podcast app. Are you going to be sticking with your third party podcast player or will you be giving this one a go? Let us know what you think?

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UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Apple releases Podcasts, an app to discover, subscribe and listen to podcasts


I just found it.. Had to search "Podcasts Apple" and it came out. I really do like this app. It's great!

I've had a bunch of problems with Instacast lately so I was really looking forward to this and it does look promising…!
Audiobooks are still MIA though, any idea whether they will be back, maybe even also in a separate app…?!

The interface seems very un-Apple to me. When listening to a podcast the control buttons are very square-ish and lack and "Apple look". If you click the picture while listening it shows a reel-to-reel tape player which will 'react' when you back up or go forward in the show. It's cute (if you like that sort of thing) but absolutely not an Apple, polished look to it.

yeah i agree. it's like someone at google made this to me lookswise. I like the idea and the idea of a podcast app but asthetically it's one of several moves apples done since Jobs passed that don't seem to look stylish in my opinion. things like the colored icons for apple tv, the shift to grey in some of the new ios 6 apps. That said gamecenter is hideous looking and that happened when Jobs was alive and approving stuff. But still i'd agree it looks different.

Another thing is if this is the direction they are gonna move the ipod app man i'm gonna be disappointed. Because my use of that app was a big reason i don't have Android honestly. Much more so then apps and apple ui and all that stuff. i like my ipod and i wanted it in my phone. So if they ruin that that will be a big deterrent. Gotta say i'm just not a big fan if the direction is this sloppy. That said would they really ruin an ipod player that's not broke by drastically altering it? i hope not.

Okay, maybe I spoke too early -- because it doesn't show me any search results at all…!? I can pick stuff from the suggestions in the Catalogue and from the Top Charts and what not but when I do an individual search it always comes up empty…! :(
For example when I start typing " Mac Pow…" it suggests the "Mac Power Users" podcast as a search result but when I tap that all I get is a blank screen…! Same thing when I search for "5by5" or "Twit" or "iMore" or anything else…
Does search work for anyone else…?!

I believe the search on the app itself is to search through whatever you're already subscribed to. Some people subscribe to tons of podcasts. So instead of scrolling through to find something, it would be easier to just spotlight search it.

That doesn't really make sense though -- why then would it suggest search results that I haven't subscribed to…?! And how on earth am I supposed to find podcasts that are not in the featured list if not by using the search feature…?! :(

Okay, so it's not just the 'Search' feature in the Catalogue that doesn't work for me, selecting a certain genre also results in a blank page…! Am I really the only one experiencing this…?!
Basically I have no way of finding an individual podcast at all, I'm stuck with "What's Hot" and a few other suggestions…! :(

You can def search for podcasts. They kind of set it up like iBooks. Look on the upper left hand corner where it says "catalog". Once you click in, it will show top charts. To see categories just click upper left hand corner again to see everything. Same as in itunes app. Looks like Apple is breaking thinks down. Ibooks, Itunes (for music only), Videos, App store etc. Long overdue. Hopefully they will break this down on the Mac as well so Itunes will be less bloated and a little less cluttered.

Rob: Thanks for the info -- I DO know how to search though…! ;)
What I am trying to say is that when I do search the app doesn't give me any results, just a blank page…! It also only shows me a blank page when I select an individual genre…! So it's not that I don't know how to use it, it just doesn't act the way it's supposed to -- at least not for me…! :(
A little update though: everything (including search etc.) does work fine on the iPad so something seems messed up on my iPhone, I guess…!? I'm going to delete the app and start all over again,maybe that will fix things…

yeah it's definitely to search what you already have in your list. i however understand that but don't think it's remotely a feature that should be at the top or even on the front page as i never would use it. Even if i had tons of podcasts. I mean i got a bout 12 but i simply scroll down. they got different priorities then me. They just need a search all podcast button at the bottom like other apps and remove the search my own podcast or make it optional like.

I wasn't able to find it right way. I had to search using 'Apple PodCasts' finally appeared. I also keep getting Unable to Download Podcast at this time. Have only been able to download 2 so far.

I love it. I don't understand why they didn't announce this at the conference with iOS 6, it had to have had an issue and just not been ready yet.

It looks nice, but I'm sticking with Downcast. I've been spoiled by playlists, gestures, many choices of playback speeds, and control. If I had never gotten a hardcore podcast app I'd love Apple's offering. But it just seems too limiting to me as of now. But it's very pretty. I like that tape deck. Non-hardcore podcast users will love it though. I'll recommend it to the Muggles. It's definitely an app people should try!

Does it auto download new podcasts on wifi or all the time? Its pretty much removing it from the music app but it does seems better. At least i dont have to go into itunes to download new episodes a huge time saver.

Also what's with all the podcasts that I have already downloaded to iTunes on my Mac…?! Will it be able to sync those or do I have to download them all over again in the new podcasts app…?

I should learn to read, it clearly says "Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC" in the description…

Mine from music pulled in automatically, but I dont want to try and update it right now over my 3g until I get home on my wifi, why waste me data.

I swiped across one and the delete button showed up. I clicked on it and it just started playing the podcast again. I tried swiping again and it's never reappeared. Still a little buggy.

Going to use this one as my primary app over Podcaster for a couple weeks and see how it is. So far, so good, might address the little issues I have with Podcaster. Not sure if it is the "everyone is now downloading it and accessing the iTunes servers, so it will be slow" effect or not, but clicking "Subscribe" doesn't seem to consistently be working...
Though, for the moment, don't see how to sync iPhone and iPad subscriptions and progress...

one thing i miss that instacast has is if you quickly double click the button on the mic it will skip ahead 30 seconds. in Apple's Podcast app you have to use a screen button to do so. So if i'm at the gym and want to skip ahead i have to take my iPhone out.

Thinking I'll stick w/ Instacast. The app looks cool relative to other stock Apple apps; but the interface doesn't spark my interest now that I've been using Instacast for the last month. Its functionality and UI is just more appealing IMO.

Yeah, I have also. I wasn't sure if it had anything to do w/ "MY" device due to it being Jail-broke or if it was the app itself. But yes, I too have experienced a LOT of lag in this app. I hope this gets fixed quickly. When streaming a podcast i sometimes have to press the [DONE] button like 3 or 4 times before the app eventually responds.
Also, I wish they would have allowed the same options during a streamed podcast as those that are local. like the ability to play at faster than 1x speed. :-/ I do have a lot of respect for apps created by Apple and I sincerely hope this app is updated w/ fixes soon.

I can't get it to work. When I search for a podcast, I see the "subscribe" button, but nothing happens when I click it.

I found the same thing for one podcast, but then other podcast could be added.
The podcast I was having problems subscribing to was "Daily Madden".

After playing around a bit, I was able to subscribe to one podcast; another showed the subscribe button, but the button disappeared mysteriously; a third had no subscribe button at all (even though it is a weekly podcast). I'm surprised Apple would bring out a half-baked app like this. It's not even close to ready for prime time.

yes. i kinda agree. i wrote in my thoughts below that this seems like something not worthy of the Apple name. I kinda don't get it. Like all of a sudden they lowered the bar of excellence to allow for mediocrity. This isn't the worst app ever but it's not exactly what i expect from apple. To me it's like they aimed low. I expect apple to succeed or fail but fail while aiming high.

I have now been able to get things working. Getting to the subscription settings was not intuitive (you have to click a couple on the program in your library), but once I figured that out, I see that the app is more functional that at first glance. It needs some tweaking to let people know how to find the settings, but I take back what I said about it not being ready for prime time.

I am also having a problem where the subscribe button appears for a few seconds (but it grayed out a bit) and then it disappears and I can't subscribe. As said by others, it doesn't happen on all podcasts. Some are fine, but some have this problem. I was trying to subscribe to "The Joe Rogan Experience" and this one specifically displays the problem with the subscribe button. I hope Apple is watching these boards and will fix this soon. Gary

Do we know if this will sync with iCloud and pickup where the podcast was stopped on another device?

You can't make a playlist. You can only select one specific podcast that you want to listen to then play it. When it is over you can select another one and play it. So for me it is not nearly as convenient as iCatcher or Downcast.

First impression:
I use downcast now. Conclusion first: It's not yet good enough for me to switch.
Mostly its a bit confusing to navigate with things like the scrobbler hidden. i'd prefer that up front 100% of the time not in the back ground.
I didn't see anywhere to import podcast lists from a file like with downcast. So i was stuck having to add all of them individually. That's a pain so i only did three as a test.
I would like more options for setting the skip forward and backward times. And i'd like to have multiple skip forward buttons so one for 30 secs and one for 2 minutes like in Downcast.
Saw no icloud integration. Downcast has that.
I'd like to be able to remove "top stations." I mean i'm not using that very often and it takes up a huge part of the bottom of the screen. I mean sorry i don't like what other people like so i don't need to see that stuff.
Aesthetically, the app just looks convoluted, not streamlined, not applish to me. It's disorganized. i go top for some stuff bottom for others. It's not uniform. Even the terms are bad. "Catalog?" I know they call it the app catalog but sorry, how about just put "Search for podcasts" or "find" or something?
Another thing. it didn't automatically download the most recent podcast even thought i set it that way.
No feature to pick if it automatically downloads only over wifi but not data.
What they should have done is looked at what Downcast, instacast, podcaster, etc do and essentially clone it. But they got cute and tried to reinvent the wheel. So they moved stuff around into cumbersome places. If it ain't broke... ya know? It's not a horrible app though. It's just a bit convoluted and missing stuff to me. Plus it lacks customization. So unless it changes dedicated pay podcast apps are not in any danger. But hopefully competition will mean some get lower prices soon cause contrary to that utter crap they where saying on the imore podcast a few weeks ago. I as a consumer have ZERO interest in paying more money for apps. Zero! But for now i'm sticking with Downcast I think which i'm sure are breathing a sigh of relief at this effort. But i'll keep an open mind to a free apple solution if they clean it up and make it full featured. Now it's feels like an after thought. If its not an after thought and this is the product of focused work well then they need to do some self evaluation about whether the this end product was the proper goal in the first place. Because to me. This isn't aiming high enough as a goal. If i'd worked at apple i'd say good start but it's not close to good enough for us to release with an Apple name on it.

Another problem in noticing is merely a product of this crappy organizational look of the podcast catalog er library er whatever they call it. it's just all these stupid squares and rectangles. They need just some lists and categories and organization. "Featured" & "top charts" are often redundant lists.
Hell in the "catalog" er "library" the top left button is "podcasts." Well i hit it and go to the podcast app in the app store. But i'm already the fricken "podcast" app. Why would i need to go get an app i'm already using and if i have it already why is this place in the top of the screen like it's important.
Oh now i get it. It's taking me outside of the app to the app catalog app? That's even worse as i don't want to leave the podcast app. So now it's taking me out of the app and giving me no direct way back without hitting the home button and multitasking over. That's dumb considering i'm already in the app they sent me to.
And maybe i missed it or found it and can't figure out how to get back but where are the global podcast settings? do i really need to set each an every podcast individually to automatically download, delete etc.?

Okay, it's definitely a problem with my iPhone running iOS 6 beta (even though the Podcast app works fine on the iPad running the same version of iOS) so I'll stop complaining for now…! It's a little weird that it seems so messed up and that it behaves differently on different devices running the same iOS version but in the end that's the risk of using a beta version on my iPhone so I'll just wait and see until everything gets smoothed out…

I tried it and deleted it within 5 minutes. While I enjoyed the clean presentation, I didn't like the lack of options. It's nice that you can pick options by podcast, but I wish there was just a bit more to it. From an aesthetics standpoint, I didn't like the square look of the button when playing a podcast. It didn't look polished or very Apple like. I'll stick with Instacast.
Note: It's interesting that Apple's free podcast app can do something that's Instacast's $1.99 app cannot do without an in app purchase - settings by podcast.

Just downloaded it and started plying with it. It does seem to sync between devices and iTunes but it doesn't seem to update the podcast list in iTunes if I mark all episodes played. Anyone else seeing the same thing?
I also can't seem to mark a single episode as played in the app which I do in iTunes to get rid of stuff I don't want to listen to and have clutter my display on my iphone/ipad.

I like the presentation. Sometimes the audio reel animation might be a little too much eye candy. It's slow and buggy right now but I hope apple does do something with that and makes it snappier.

A major use of my iPhone is podcasts whilst driving, so was initially happy this was released. No playlists that I can see, so pointless for me. The original iPods pioneered the use of playlists so very disappointed they are not here yet. Hope this is addressed ASAP.

I can't even browse the catalogue; it keeps saying "can't connect to store". Force closed and re-started the app a couple of times but still no joy. Not impressed.

Love this! After the setup I removed Stitcher (The best before Podcasts)and enjoyed the pure function of this app. The "reel to reel" graphics are a nice touch. Easy to use and superior audio. A good way to enjoy podcasts.

So buggy i had to stop using it. Podcasts feed dont update properly, episodes dont download, past read episodes become suddenly unread,….
One of the worst start for an apple iOS app i have ever seen.