Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Standalone Podcast App For iOS, Finally

Well it's about time. Apple has finally released a stand alone app that plays, downloads and allows subscription to podcasts.

Okay, a step back. If you don't know what a podcast is, it's a downloadable or streamable (is that a word?) tv (video) or radio (audio) show that you can play on your computer or smart phone. There are a plethora of topics and titles available including some you'd know from old media (NPR's Car Talk, for example) to those that were born and thrived on-line (Adam Curry's excellent Daily Source Code and the not-to-be-missed No Agenda recording his conversations with John C. Dvorak). It's also where you'll find the class of TechTV (Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton) before the station morphed into to what it sunk.

Anyway, back to the app. Before the app was released, you would have to download individual shows though the iTunes app or you could subscribe through iTunes on the mac. This worked great but was a bit of a pain when you were on the road away from your computer. Otherwise it worked well with my work flow. I had no issue with syncing as I charge my phone each evening by plugging it into the computer. Others disagree and prefer to keep the phone charged with other gadgets and away from the computer. There is over-the-air syncing but I never found that this worked all that well.

The app works mostly as advertised though response is occasionally sluggish on my iPone 4, there is a blank podcast that appeared in my list (no shows, no artwork, etc.) that I cannot get rid of. In fact, I haven't found how to remove podcasts from the list yet though it has to be there, right? [Found the Edit button, hidden in plane sight]  I'm sure that will improve with time (or a new iOS or iPhone). The ability to play video as well as audio at multiple speeds (faster) is a nice addition. Subscription is easy. Removing older podcasts from the list of options would be nice in future updates.

There are Top Station options to help you discover new shows. The scroll wheel offers an easy and intuitive user interface. The Catagories button allows you to browse by topics that might hold your interest.

All in all, a nice app and very nice for free. It works well with iTunes but that relationship may be short-lived as iTunes is expected to disappear from iOS 6. It still needs a few tweaks to really be user ready though.

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