Is listening to podcasts officially mainstream yet? I’m not sure.
Yes, the podcast concept has been around for a long while now, it’s certainly big in the geek community and I would say it’s also big with anyone who commutes to and from work. Those long bus trips; just the place for a dose of your favourite music, interviews or radio show.
Here in sunny Australia most radio stations release podcast episodes of popular shows, so someone must be listening.
Until now the way to listen to podcasts with iTunes was ordinary to say the least. They were hidden away in the iTunes app on iPhones and iPads, relegated to the more tab.
I for one had a lot of problems with downloading and listening to shows, it just was not very reliable. I was forever hitting download button only to find that while it looked like it was doing the business, frustratingly it didn’t always end up in the play list.
Anyway, the solution is here.
Apple recently pulled the podcast functionality out of the iTunes app all together and released a separate app that makes the processes a lot more simple.
You can search for shows you that you like, browse top stations and subscribe to anything that takes your fancy.
Shows that you subscribe to will be updated each time you open the app, showing you new episodes as they become available. By default the podcast episode is streamed, meaning that it will start playing almost immediately. It’s then downloaded bit by bit in the background while you listen. This behaviour is probably what you’ll use as long as you’re staying in range of your wifi or have a good 3G signal.
If you’re going to be offline you can choose to fully download episodes to your device.
The Podcast app does its work within a very nice interface. In typical Apple style, it elegant and uncluttered. There are options to speed up and slow down the show, jump forward or back 30 seconds and you can even tweet the show directly from the main screen.
Apple’s AirPlay is built in so if you like to stream sound to an AirPort Express or Apple TV, you’re covered.
Something that I love and use all the time is the snooze option. Great if you’re playing a show and want it to turn off after the show or a set period of time.
The Podcast app is free, search for it in the iTunes app store.