iPhone 3.0: New Podcast Controls in iPod! Jump Back! Multi-Speed Scrubbing!

In iPhone OS 2.x, we bemoaned the seemingly useless nature of the repeat and buttons when it came to podcast playback. They just sort of hung around, like guests who were welcome when the music was playing, but just wouldn't leave when the party was over.

Now, in iPhone 3.0, Apple has replaced them with an email icon on the left hand side, and a speed counter on the right hand side. The email icon supposedly allows you to send an iTunes Link for the podcast (similar to how you could previously email YouTube video links).

The speed indicator on the other hand, shows x1 during regular playback, and we presume it might show x2 etc. during fast forward. (Apple has allowed you to "speed up" talk-heavy content like Audio Books for a long time).

Where the Genius button would be on music tracks, we now have a circular backwards arrow with a 30 in the middle, which we figure allows you to jump back in 30 second intervals.

Variable media scrubbing now lets you put your finger on the position indicator at the top, the buttons change to a text message reading "Slide your finger down to adjust the scrubbing rate." Slide your finger down the screen and the speed that you scrub changes. Displayed in place of the track info, options so far include half speed, quarter speed, and a fine grain speed.

Since accurately going to a location on a podcast prior to 3.0 was difficult at best, these look to be excellent enhancements.

Anything else we're looking for from Apple for Podcasts?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone 3.0: New Podcast Controls in iPod! Jump Back! Multi-Speed Scrubbing!

21 Comments

So this is feature number...
I don't really use podcasts anymore but I might atlasst try out this feature when I get 3.0
Looking forward to trying out all 100.

Does the new scrubber apply to video (specifically movies)? The current scrubber is inadequate for 2 hour movies (no fine grain control). I often want to go back a few seconds but the closest I can get is often 3 minutes or so.

"Anything else we’re looking for from Apple for Podcasts?"
Yes - podcast subscriptions on the iPhone, either through the iTunes music store or the iPod app. There has to be a better way to update your podcasts than opening the iPod, clicking on the name of the podcast, clicking "Get more Epsiodes" which takes you out of the iPod and opens the iTunes store... just to find out if there is a new episode.

How about a better way to view the podcast title and description. Currently, there is no way to view a long episode title in its entirety, and episode description does not always show up either. Rectifying that would be a big help.

The circled 30 does indeed jump back 30 seconds. The speed indicator to the right isn't really for fast forwarding, but listening at different rates. It's been a feature of iPods (and maybe the iPhone?) for a while, but it's always been buried in settings, so it's hard to get to when you really need it, when listening to a podcast or audiobook. Also, I can't get the e-mail button to do anything.

@Dyvim: Sadly, the back-30-seconds button doesn't appear for videos unless they're podcasts. It is a great feature though, and does work with video podcasts, hopefully they'll expand it for regular videos!
Had the same experience as Muero, the mail button does nothing right now but the other buttons are awesome.

Josh Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 7:22 am
“Anything else we’re looking for from Apple for Podcasts?”
Yes - podcast subscriptions on the iPhone, either through the iTunes music store or the iPod app. There has to be a better way to update your podcasts than opening the iPod, clicking on the name of the podcast, clicking “Get more Epsiodes” which takes you out of the iPod and opens the iTunes store… just to find out if there is a new episode.
Hear! Hear! Surely they'll fix this? It's soooo annoying ! ...

I'd take bookmarking. And not to be greedy, but additional differentiation in the playback rates -- I suspect twice as fast might be too fast for many podcasts. Maybe 1.5x.

I almost can't wait until 3.0 comes out. The podcast speed change will be nice. Cut copy and paste is a long time coming. And widescreen for critical apps.

I'd really like to have my iphone/ipod touch automatically download new podcasts without the help of itunes. i'd also like it to be FAR easier to switch to another computer to update my podcasts... right now, trying to do that is a nightmare.
the faster podcast playing was something i wanted to make an app for for the last two years, but the api wouldn't allow it for non jailbreaked phones. its nice that they finally did it themselves.... who has time to listen to podcasts at normal speed anyway?

I concur with Jason:
"How about a better way to view the podcast title and description. Currently, there is no way to view a long episode title in its entirety, and episode description does not always show up either. Rectifying that would be a big help."
This is soooo annoying and the most fundamental thing one wants.

I was looking forward to the "different playback rates" option more then anything else in this update, but x2 is mostly un-usable it's just too fast. x1.5 is definately needed. Or possbily more fine control, eg x1.4 or x1.6.

3.0 softwere has shocked me with no podcast description or info as it used to be available with one click in older versions. I use podcasts to reinforce foreign languages so it was very handy to examine the written version at the end. If someone has any resolution I would deeply appreciate the help. kakami07@yahoo.co.uk

Repeating podcasts is critical in learning foreign languages. it needs to be a setting that can be added back in.

On my iPodTouch with OS 3.0, the entire positional control pane vanished for podcasts, and nothing I did would get it to come back (time slider, envelope icon, back-30sec button, 1x etc button. Finally I opened a music track, the positional control pane clicked open just the way it's supposed to, and when I went back to podcasts it had started appearing properly again there too. No idea what that was all about...

30 second rewind feature is great but wouldn't a 30 second fast forward feature be very handy also - especially for Audio Books.