Apple has released an official Podcasts app for iOS devices, breaking with tradition by giving the service a decidedly low-key launch.
Announced earlier this month at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the standalone app, dubbed simply Podcasts, has cropped up on the App Store rather unexpectedly, confounding assumptions that it would be launched as part of the upcoming iOS 6 refresh, due to land in September.
The free-to-download dedicated app gives podcasts a desperately needed home to call their own, as they were previously hidden away in the ‘more’ section of iTunes. Users can now browse top stations in a multitude of categories and sub-categories in a neat tape deck-inspired interface.
Double-tapping on a cover reveals a full list of episodes for that station, with buttons to subscribe to the station and download individual episodes to the device. Tapping on the title of an episode streams it on the spot, which comes with player controls and a sleep timer option to stop playing after a certain time, which is quite handy for listening in bed.
A ‘Podcasts’ section, meanwhile, houses all the 'casts you’ve already subscribed to and downloaded. A ‘Catalog’ button is also ever-present at the top-left corner, which flips the screen to a gallery of featured and top ranking stations.
It’s a nice little app. Although we’re not sure if the retro look really fits with the internet age podcasts represent, and there is an annoying lag, too, when switching between audio and video podcasts.