How to subscribe to podcasts in Apple's new Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad

Apple has just released their new Podcasts app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. While it's not as feature-rich or complex as some other podcast apps on the App Store, if it's your first time using a podcast app, you may be wandering just how exactly to get started using it.

Well no worries, we're here to help! With a few searches and a few taps, you'll be subscribed to some fantastic new video and audio shows to both entertain and inform you. And best of all, they're absolutely free!

How to subscribe to podcasts

If you're brand new to podcasts, Apple makes it easy to discover and subscribe to shows. It basically works just like iBooks where you have a Catalog (like the iTunes Store or iBookstore, but free!) where you can search and subscribe to new shows, and a Library where all your downloaded shows are available for easy viewing and listening. To get started:

  1. Launch the Apple Podcasts app
  2. If you're not already in the Catalog, tap the Catalog button at the top right (iPhone/iPod touch) or bottom left (iPad).
  3. Browse through Featured or Top Charts to see popular shows, or if you know what you're looking for, hit Search and type in the title or some key words. (Mobile Nations, for example, will bring up all of our network shows).

  1. When you find a show you like, tap the title.
  2. Tap on the Subscribe button to make sure you can easily find and download every episode later, or tap the Download button beside an individual episode to download only that show.
  3. To subscribe to additional shows, or download additional episodes, simply repeat the process.

That's it, you'll now be subscribed to the show, and downloading episodes.

If you're looking to subscribe to iMore's podcast, or any of the Mobile Nations network shows, here are the quick links:

  • iMore podcast - Audio (opens in new tab) | --> --> --> -->(!-video/id475019189?at=10l3Vy){.nofollow}
  • Mobile Nations podcast - Audio (opens in new tab) | --> --> --> -->({.nofollow}
  • Iterate podcast - Audio
  • Android Central podcast - Audio (opens in new tab) | --> --> --> -->({.nofollow}
  • podcast - Audio (opens in new tab) | --> --> --> -->({.nofollow}
  • WPCentral podcast - Audio (opens in new tab)
  • ZEN and TECH podcast - Audio (opens in new tab) | --> --> --> -->({.nofollow}
  • Superfunctional - Audio (opens in new tab)

How to change your subscription options in Podcasts

If you subscribe to a show and later want to unsubscribe, or if you download only a single episode to try out and decide you really do want to subscribe, it's simple to change.

  1. Launch the Apple Podcasts app
  2. If you're not already in the Library section, tap the Library button at the top right (iPhone/iPod touch) or top left (iPad).
  3. Tap the show title (iPhone/iPod touch) or Gear button (iPad) to go to the Settings
  4. Toggle Subscription to On to subscribe, Off to unsubscribe.

More help with Podcasts

If you need more help getting started with Podcasts for iPhone or iPad, head on over to the iTunes Forum help thread and ask away!

Unfortunately, Podcasts doesn't have Push Notifications yet to alert you to new episodes, and iOS doesn't allow timed background downloads, so you'll have to open the Podcasts app to actually get future episodes. But if you're new to podcasts, it's still a good way to get started.

Rene Ritchie

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.

  • I haven't actually got it to work today. I'm hoping it does tomorrow.
  • For me there is just one deal maker/breaker - can sync with your iTunes library of podcasts over the air?
  • I think it does. I had changed the settings in iTunes to never download podcasts since I started relying on the Podcaster app. After downloading the Apple Podcasts app, I figured. Sync would have moved my subscriptions, or there would have been an option for that. Nope. Had to manually subscribe to them on my iPhone. Figured it might sync to my iPad, since they tout "pick up where you left off" across devices. Nope. Had to manually subscribe again on the iPad.
    However, after I subscribed on the devices, there were episodes that I had downloaded on my iPhone now downloaded in iTunes.
  • Happy to see Iterate already in the Library view. Quick and easy to find and add podcasts. Nice!
  • Very disappointed with this so far. Performance has been pokey, and it has crashed twice. Worse, the UI is far below Apple's normal standards.
    Ugliness aside, if there is a way to make podcasts download automatically without having to check, I have yet to find it. The display & controls on downloading vs streaming are not clear, with visual cues not nearly strong enough to indicate which state you are in. I was able to find the scrubbing and other features which are inexplicably hid behind the podcast logo art until you swipe the image away.
    If this can automatically download subscribed podcasts without any actions from me, it might have some use. Otherwise, this is a disappointing release, with very little to recommend it over just playing podcasts inside the existing player.
  • You would think Apple would have implemented Push Notifications and background downloading (at least while on wifi and plugged in).
    In addition to that, my findings/feature wish list (so far):
    Needs an overall settings function, not just podcast specific.
    Needs way of force refresh.
    Grid view should have new indicator numbers on tile. 
    App should have new indicator on home screen. 
    These should be configurable in the needed settings. 
  • Also forgot (as I mentioned in a reply to another comment): need to be able to sync subscriptions across devices via iCloud.
  • can someone explain how this interfaces with the current itunes/music apps on your iOS device?
    right now, if i go to itunes app, go to podcasts, i can find the one i want and download new episodes.
    then i proceed to the music app, go to podcasts, and find the newly downloaded episode and play it through the music app...
    is this method obsolete now?
    does the new podcasts app interface with any of these apps?
    if i've already downloaded podcasts using the old method above, will the podcasts app show my previously downloaded episodes?
  • Music previously downloaded to the music app will sync to the. new podcasts app automatically. You can still listen to podcasts via the music app as well.
    I too wish Apple had added push notifications for new podcasts, maybe a cydia tweak will be released that does this?
  • Can it do playlists? If not, it´s basically useless to me, since many podcasts are only a few minutes long, and I listen for about two hours every day.
  • Downcast must have had a sigh of relief when they saw how terrible this app is.
  • No kidding!
  • Looks like this is directed at the dissemination of premium content, and a replacement of the YouTube app. Since iTunes is the dominant provider if all Podcasts it makes sense in the Apple quality vs. Google quantity (dogs on skateboards) paradigm this would happen. This isn't that bad for a 1.0 release app. Heck it isn't even released yet.
    Nice review Rene.
  • Any idea how to subscribe to a podcast that is not in iTunes? For example, say I have a URL to a podcast, how can I access that in this app?
  • Can't figure out, for the life of me, why the catalog button is grayed out and inaccessible. Any ideas? I rebooted the app, but still no go.