Years have passed with no significant changes made to the podcast functionality built into the iTunes (now Music) app. As a daily consumer of podcasts, I had high hopes for Apple’s newly released (June 26, 2012) ‘Podcasts’ app.
While some improvements were made – namely the ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app – for several reasons, I will remain loyal to Downcast:
- Direct Updates, But No Wi-Fi-Only Updates: The most important new feature of Apple’s new ‘Podcasts’ app is its ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app without the need to physically connect the iPhone/iPod to a computer. Inexplicably, Apple provides no setting to limit such updates when connected to Wi-Fi only. Without this feature, Podcasts users will quickly see their monthly bandwidth allotments eaten up by podcasts downloads. This is a major fail!
- 30 Second Skip & Instant Replay, But No Ear-bud Control: Finally Apple built-in the ability to skip forward 30 seconds. Instant replay has been built-in for years. But, surprisingly, you cannot trigger this functionality with the ear-bud controls. I listen to hours of podcasts every day through my ear-buds. While walking dogs, carrying a baby or out in the winter, I do not want to have to reach into my pockets every few minutes to skip forward or rewind a podcast. And there is no Siri control of podcast playback either. Grrr!
- No Automatic Background Updating: Something I miss from my Android days is the ability for podcast apps (I used Dogcatcher) to auto-update podcast subscriptions in the background. Whenever I picked up my Nexus S, my podcasts were up-to-date and ready to go. This isn’t possible on iOS because Apple prohibits third party apps from doing background downloading. The net result with iOS is that each time I want to listen to podcasts, I have to manually start the podcast app, trigger podcast updates and wait for each podcast subscription to update before I can head out. I can’t blame Downcast for this Apple-imposed limitation. But I had high hopes that Apple would permit automatic background updates through its proprietary podcast player. No such luck.
- No Playlists: With Dogcatcher (on Android) and Downcast on the iPhone I can set them up to automatically create playlists of my favorite podcasts. I can give each podcast a priority ranking from which a playlist is automatically populated and continually updated with my favorite podcasts. When one podcast finishes, the next highest ranking podcast automatically plays. The new Apple ‘Podcasts’ app has no playlist functionality – at all! You can’t even set up playlists manually. Ugh!
When I first heard the news that Podcasts was released, I feared that the podcast players, such as Downcast and Stitcher would be Sherlocked. So long as Apple continues to lag behind with the implementation of important/useful features such as these, the other podcast apps should be just fine.