Podcasts for iPad lets you watch your favorite video shows on the big screen... or at least, it should!
With iOS 9, the Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad received a Music app-style makeover. Overall it's really good — solid functionality without having to support the same impossible number of use-cases. On the iPad version, however, the ability to make videos go full-screen seems to be missing.
iPads come with displays ranging in size from the mini 7.9-inch to the Pro 12.9-inch. Yet despite those big screens, video podcasts seem to currently be constrained to tiny little boxes with massive white letterboxing and substantial black pillarboxing. It's almost claustrophobic.
Unless I'm missing something — which is always possible! — there's no way to go full screen on those big screens. There's a picture-in-picture button (PiP) but no apparent full screen button and no pinch-to-zoom gesture. It seems to be a problem inherited from Music.app, which lacks the same full-screen functionality for music videos on iPad.
It's too perplexing to be a deliberate omission, so hopefully it'll be fixed soon. In the meantime, if you want to watch your video podcasts on the iPad — and you almost certainly do! — here are a couple things you can try.
Subscribe in YouTube on the web or in the app, if the show is also posted there. Again, separate from iPhone and iTunes, and without the same benefits of a proper podcast feed, but if you don't want another app to manage, it's a workable placeholder.
Use the picture-in-picture (PiP) mode. Yeah, less than ideal and far from full-screen, but at least you remove the dead space and can do something else — even browse the web — while you watch.
You can also, of course, watch on iPhone, iTunes, or even Apple TV, if you have them and where full-screen mode works just fine.
None of these workarounds are great, so fingers crossed it gets fixed in an update.
I've filed the lack of full screen support in Podcasts.app for iPad with Apple's bug reporter tool: rdar://24561465.