I was excited this week about the new release of the Podcasts app. I am a great user of podcasts, I listen to them often, and although managing them via syncing my devices to the computer has always been easy enough, it required several steps, and basically was a pain to do. It took effort, it took time and it took thought. Yuch!
The new Podcast app promises to eliminate any and all work required to get our favorite podcasts delivered to our devices. This sounded so awesome to me, I downloaded it immediately.
My first impressions are mixed, but overall it is a huge step in the right direction.
When I downloaded Podcasts to my iPad and iPhone, the app was smart enough to know about all the podcasts that I already subscribe to, and it pulled them all into the app. So, when I opened Podcasts for the first time, I was greeted with a neatly tiled page with a square representing each of my podcasts. You can change this tiled screen to a list version by tapping the lines at the top of the page. These appear in slightly different spots on an iPhone and on an iPad, so just look across the top on either device to find them. I marked it below with the arrow. (I’ll be using photos from my iPad, in the landscape orientation. Layout looks slightly different in portrait, and on the iPhone.)
If you tap on “edit” you will see a list of your podcasts, and you can delete or re-order them from here. To re-order, just touch the series of lines to the right of each podcast, and leaving your finger on those lines, move your finger up or down, and you can reorder the list (and therefore the presentation of the tiles).
You also set your preferences individually for each podcast (again, this looks a bit different on the iPhone, but similar). Open the settings by touching the gear on the iPad version and a menu will drop down, allowing you to turn on your subscription, automatically download newly added content (I love this), and select how you want episodes to be kept and sorted.
My happiest moment with this app was the discovery of the timer. You can set it to play for a chosen number of minutes, or the whole podcast, and then turn off. A great feature, although it wasn’t very easy to find.
Here is how you find the timer:
Tap on a podcast to open it. Tap on the episode that you want to hear. You will now see a large picture representing the podcast, with black empty space around it. Tap ANYWHERE, either on the graphic, or in the black space, and the graphic will lift and expose an old school tape player with a few extra controls, and among them, the timer. The timer is represented by a little clock with a few zzz over it.
To “shop” for new podcasts that you might enjoy, you can get right to the store from this app. Tap on “Top Stations” or “Catalog” to get into the store. “Top Stations” allows you to see what is popular in different categories, while “Catalog” takes you to the original store layout where you can easily browse through boatloads of podcasts.
As happy as I am to have episodes downloaded automatically, and to have a long-awaited timer built in, there have been some disappointments, as well. I was surprised to see that although it recognized some of the podcasts I had listened to, it was not accurate overall. For instance, I am a regular listener of “A Way With Words”, but the app did not recognize that I had listened to all of those episodes. I am hoping that this feature will work as I listen now from within this app. I’ll be sure to update about this, later.
The largest concern is the syncing between devices. This doesn’t seem to be working well at all, and a quick look around the internet tells me that I am not alone with this concern. However, I’m going to assume that this will be fixed, and I’ll work around it for now to enjoy the pleasure of having the newest episodes of my favorites automatically downloaded and a timer to use in the evening.