Apple’s Podcasts app has had a makeover and we’re pleased to say it’s improved significantly. Much of the attention in coverage of the new version has been devoted to the disappearance of the virtual reel-to-reel tape player, which appeared on-screen when you tapped the artwork of a playing podcast.
That has indeed gone, but the other changes are even more significant. The tortoise and hare buttons have also been jettisoned, replaced by a single button which allows you to cycle through different playback speeds.
Thankfully the controls for playing and sharing a podcast are now consistent with Apple’s other iOS media apps, such as Music, making them instantly familiar. Play, pause, skip, and the volume and AirPlay controls sit at the bottom of the screen, with the speed control, a sleep timer, and the sharing button above.
The radio style dial is style present in the Top Charts section, and it’s still tricky to operate on the iPhone. But, like the rest of the app, it’s much slicker. The sluggishness which plagued version 1 has disappeared.
There’s another significant improvement: new subscriptions are stored in iCloud and automatically added to Podcasts on every device associated with your Apple ID. And there’s a brand new feature: My Station. This allows you to create your own station from podcast subscriptions.
New episodes are automatically added to My Station according to your preference settings for the podcast. This creates an automatic playlist in which you can group podcasts and when you set them to play, one follows the other without intervention, until you press pause. You can also create On the Go playlists of podcasts.
Podcasts 1.2.1 is a huge improvement over version 1.0. While some will lament the loss of the reel-to-reel player, there’s no denying that the interface as a whole is more intuitive and friendlier. Performance is much better, and the new features make it a compelling alternative to Instacast and Downcast.