October 07, 2012, 7:53 AM — While many would consider Apple responsible for the podcast revolutionthe name even comes from the companys portable audio playerits fair to say that the recent Podcasts app on iOS has met with a fair amount of scorn.
Previously, you would listen to podcasts through the Music app, syncing them from iTunes and managing them the same way you managed music. But now, the Podcasts app is a stand-alone tool for managing and listening to podcasts. Heres a look at how you can work with the iOS Podcasts app, but also how you can work without it, if youd prefer going back to the old method.
A stand-alone app
Apple released the Podcasts app back in June, and the reaction to it wasnt particularly positive. Macworld Senior Editor Christopher Breen, in his review of the app, wrote, Podcasts isnt a terrible app, but that its only a modestly capable first step. Apple has updated the app since then and improved the experience slightly, but there are still quirks, and its interface can be jarring. (At the moment, it gets a resounding two-star overall rating on the iOS App Store.) For those used to working with podcasts in the Music app, there is a lot to adapt to.
First, if you choose to subscribe to and download podcasts from the Podcasts app, you can do so. The Podcasts app can even sync your podcasts and played status and position with another iOS device (between your iPhone and iPad, for example). However, it wont sync with your Mac (or PC), so the Podcasts app is an island unto itself. In addition, it wont sync with an Apple TV, which, since you sign into it with your Apple ID, should be simple. This may be a step toward splitting up content that is currently stored in the iTunes application on a Mac or PC. Apple has already released Video and iTunes U apps, and its possible that, in the next version of iTunes due to be released by the end of this month, this content will no longer be managed by iTunes.
However, if one of your iOS devices syncs podcasts with iTunes, then, by all means, dont turn on iCloud syncing, because youll find a whole slew of different content on that device. It wont be there physicallyyoull have to download the episodes if you want thembut youll see both those episodes youve synced and those that your other device has in its lists of podcasts and episodes (some of which you may have already listened to). The app asks you if you want to sync this information the first time you launch it, but if you ever want to turn it off, select Settings -> Podcasts -> Sync Subscriptions in iOS 6.