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Can't get Podcasts videos on iPad to go full screen? Here are some workarounds!

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.

  1. Use an App Store podcast app like Pocket Casts (opens in new tab) or Downcast (opens in new tab). You'll have to subscribe and sync separately from Podcasts on iPhone and iTunes on Mac, but you'll get your shows full-screen.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

12 Comments
  • I rejoiced when the Apple TV finally got the Podcast app back in an update, because I hated watching on the iPad for this very reason,
  • Pocket Casts is great. It's way faster and less buggy than the built-in podcasts app.
  • I've generally been using Pocket Casts. However another workaround is to use the Zoom functionality in the Accessibility Settings. And zoom in enough to remove the black pillar boxing. You're still left with some white letter boxing, but it does in a pinch.
  • Always use Apple hardware with non Apple apps, gives you the best results since most companies do better job at their apps than Apple. Hurts but truth!!!
  • You'd think it would be fixed in an update, but it's been around through several updates already, and no indication that Apple is even considering a change.
  • I've noticed that starting with the iMore show from last week along with last week's Android Central Podcast & this week's iMore Show & Win Beta Podcast that for some reason the Apple Podcast app seems to be playing Audio Podcasts a little faster than what they should playback. But using Overcast they playback perfectly. At first I just thought that it was a bug with that particular episode of the iMore show until I stated listening to the Android Central Podcast from with week & checked with this week's Win Beta Podcast. Sent from the iMore App
  • Check your playback speed-
    1x, 1.5x, 2x, 0.5x Sent from the iMore App
  • I would recommend RSSRadio Podcast Downloader and iCatcher versus Pocketcasts or Downcasts. Both RSSRadio and iCatcher have iPad Pro support, Picture in Picture and Full Screen. They are both a little heavy in customization but work well for the most part.
  • great to see an Apple industry insider finally giving this some attention. Thanks, maybe now Apple may give us an answer as to whether it's a bug, or a design decision (hopefully not the latter). One of the reason I used to buy expensive Apple hardware, was because of the software that was included.
    If they keep making that software worse, and require us to spend $3.99 per app to make things function again, that would be an odd business decision, at least for me, with so many more tablet choices than existed when iPad appeared.
  • can anyone confirm this has been fixed in the latest public beta, 9.3.4?
  • OMG! This is fixed in 9.3! Woohoo! Click the button or pinch/spread.
  • hehe. awesome. we've been leaving comment after comment since September on the Apple forums, sending requests, filing bug reports, but only when Canadian iMore decides to speak up does the problem appear to get fixed!
    Thanks, iMore