Apple released a stand alone podcast app for iOS today. It is listed as Podcast app in the app store. I downloaded the app and over all I think it is a good start. When you open up the app if you have sync turned on in iTunes , the podcast you have subscribe to will automatically install. You can also add podcast manually if you want. To add a podcast manually you simply find it in the catalog and tap on the album art and then hit subscribe. Top podcasts are listed under Top Stations by categories. You move from category to category by sliding left and right using one finger.
To play a podcast you simply tap on the one you want and then click on the episode you want to listen to and it will start. While listening to the podcast if you click on the album art and the background changes to an old fashion tape deck. On the left hand side is a little lever with a turtle on one side and a rabbit on the other, so you can speed up or slow the podcast down. On the right hand side is a sleep timer and the ability to share to Twitter, message or email. To bring the album art back you slide it down from the top. When you first click on a podcast in your library it will bring up all available episodes. If you click on the gear in the left hand corner you can choose to auto-download the podcast. As long as you are online you can listen to a podcast by streaming it. If you plan to be offline than you will need to download it. You have the option to list the newest or oldest episode first. Once an episode is finish the next available episode for that podcast will start to play. If you subscribe to a master audio feed like the one that is issue by 5by5, you may want to sort the episodes with the oldest first. You can mark all episodes as played or unplayed. You can also turn the subscription on or off.
I did run into a couple of problems. It appears when you first subscribe to a members only podcast you still have to do that on your Mac. I couldn’t find anyway to do that directly on the iPhone or iPad. There is no ability to make playlist directly on the iOs device. I expect that Facebook will be added as a sharing option once iOs 6 becomes public. It is not clear whether the Podcast app will come installed with iOs 6 or not. At this point it appears it may not, for podcast creators this maybe a problem or an opportunity. If you are a podcast creator, you will want to upgrade your album art to the iTunes recommend 1400×1400 pixels. If you have no album art, you will definitely want to add it, if the first thing a subscriber sees is the default album art from iTunes it will look unprofessional. For most average users, this app will work fine, which will hurt many third party podcast app providers. Although I suspect that the more sophisticated users will continue to use their favorite third-party apps. I am going to try it for a while before I decide.