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With the recent news that Apple have released a separate app for podcasts it would be all too easy to write you a feature review and be done with it. However that’s all too easy so I’m going to do an overview of a day with the app and some of the alternatives out there.
So Apple have finally spun out the podcasts from the music app and given the platform something front and centre which ticks the basic boxes. From the get go finding and subscribing to my favorIte podcasts was easy and involved use of the Apple iTunes store however unlike in the music app where I have to check each week for new podcasts this app has an actual subscribe which I can use to automatically download each week or stream the latest programmed material I like to listen to.
The obligotory album art appeared when I subscribed to the podcasts however disappeared about 10 minutes into using the app when I couldn’t connector iTunes, something I put down to over use on the first day.
The app plays the video podcasts I downloaded on basically what looks to be the video app, which has its pros and cons, pro is if I shut the lid so to speak on the iPad and close the smart cover the video podcast keeps playing. As I am on the tube and trains listening to this that is a good thing. However putting the podcast app into the background to have a read of flipboard or check my mail stopped the app from playing even just the audio and that.was a bit of a downer as I often do that.
There is the horribly unoriginal design for a nice feature where supposedly I can discover new podcasts however I’ve got too much listening material now, I can however see the point of the section if not the point of the hare and the tortoise to depict the speed of playback.
What apple have done here is the minimum required to get people using iTunes for podcasts, and I get the feeling what you are seeing here won’t change that much over the next few years. Apples apps tend to get released and off you go, they know you want more, but hey, you don’t need it..
The app isn’t bad, it’s a good attempt and does work, it provides the minimum needed to get podcasts on their own app. features like being able to automatically download podcasts, the delete listened to podcasts to free up space are all great ideas.
There are however alternatives and these are the three I have used.
This has been my goto app for the last few years, basically because I find it i easy to use, it does the same as Apples Podcast app in so much as it lets me download and subscribe podcasts automatically, the interface isn’t totally iPad like however swipes and gestures are used to stream, download, stop downloading and delete the content. It does unlike Podcasts play in the background if you set it up to and has a whole lot of configuration options.
The downloads feature is relatively fast and the bar method of displaying the podcast is one of the better way’s of displaying the download status and far better than the rather strange circle used in Apple’s podcast app.
I’ve never truly understood this app i find the interface very counter intuitive and while iCatcher! has a lot of options and they can be slightly confusing at first Instacast for me just doesn’t make any sense.
Access as with all these apps to the same usual suspects of Podcasts is available however playing them back on this app just somehow seems a little over complex on the iPad version, whee there just seems to be an abundance of unused space in the app.
The inclusion os show notes at least gives there a certain amount of detail for each of the downloaded podcasts.
This is actually one of the most popular of the bunch ratings and downloads wise and you may find that you like it much more than the others don’t be swayed by my negative thoughts on this.
What sets this app apart is its layout. Its a well thought out and has a very professional finish, it makes use of what you could call the IOS design guidelines and is actually closer to something i thought Apple would put out.
The Video playback is great and one very nice option is when ou launch the video podcast to play you are offered the ability to watch the video or just play the audio from the video. Also you can stream the podcast you want to watch while downloading it another nice feature.
Apple have done a good thing to produce an app which pulls out the functionality from the Music app and puts it stand alone. I’d suggest this app will be in the app store even when IOS6 is released. The app itself is a good app if you’ve never done any podcast listening before as iTunes has a large number of them and the subscription setup works well. The radio like system for finding new podcasts is also a nice feature.
Apple however have as always done just enough, not pushed the envelope and this whole skeuomorphic design phase apple is going through at the moment isn’t my cup of tea i do prefer the Ice Cream sandwich guidelines.
Of the 4 podcast apps here i’ve been using iCatcher! for the longest however would recommend parting with a few quid and downloading Downcast. It’s a well thought out professional system, with a good layout and nice design and yes there are a could bugs mentioned on the iTunes page, they don’t appear to be apparent.