July 5, 2012

Lipstick on a Podcasts.app

Since Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference in early June, word has spread that iOS 6 will remove the Podcasts tab from the Music app, and in preparation, Apple has released a new app called Podcasts into the app store.

It's pretty. I'm pretty pissed off at it.

First things first, it has some reaslly nice features, you can: subscribe to podcasts using the built-in Catalog or radio-inspired "Channels" section; set varying subscription/auto-download settings per podcast; and most importantly, receive new episodes over the air automatically.


There are some serious issues that honestly make me wonder if this wasn't an assignment given to an intern as a trial by fire; if that is the case, they have been burned.

There are … pauses
As soon as the app starts it shows you the Library and then … you wait. It's probably checking you Music app for un-synced podcasts or something over the network, but it's certainly not in any hurry to let you do things like scroll around, tap a podcast, or anything else. Occasionally it will just stop responding for seemingly no reason. It's like your brand new iPhone has changed into a 3+ year old HTC Frond.

Car integration is completey busted
What's a great place to listen to podcasts? In your car! Cars with "iPod integration" have a USB port (or more rarely, a dangling Apple 30-pin connector somewhere) that you can connect your iPod or iPhone to, and then use the car's play/pause, next and previous buttons to control playback. It's awesome, and in Apple's new Podcasts app, it only works for about 3-5 seconds, just about long enough for you to get on the road. Wretched. (I know it's busted for the 2010 Prius. Maybe another car works better? I can't really afford to test that.)

There is no indication of new episodes
The default view of your library is lists of podcast's album art in a scrollable list. Do new episodes show up as a badge, or is there maybe just a blue dot like in Mail.app? No! You get to poke around randomly and be dissapointed until you happen across one, or just give up and switch to the table view. The table view is also the only place to find a "playlist" of all unplayed episodes.

Episodes won't download over 3G if they're larger than 50 MB
This is greatly improved over the old limit of 10MB, but it's still stupid. If you stream the episode instead of downloading it, the whole thing still plays! Stop making me play games and download the damn thing.

As released this app is awful, but maybe they can throw a few more developer hours at it before iOS 6 and the new iPhone come out in October. If not, I guess I'll have to start sizing up the third party options. This is hugely annoying because I don't need any fancy features, if this app simply worked properly I'd be perfectly happy.