Alex Knight on Apple’s New Podcasts App

Alex Knight does not like it:

The navigation experience for discovering podcasts is clunky. Instead of a simple grid or list layout for shows based on category, you have to switch views to access the iTunes store — which surprisingly caused the app to crash the first time I used it. I can let that slide, as that’s standard experience in other apps like iBooks where you need to tap to switch between the library and store. Where things get really wonky is in the skeuomorphic design of the audio player itself. Whilst playing an episode, you get a custom playback controller, so no standard iOS widgets there (that’s been an increasingly worrying trend), as well as an old reel-to-reel tape deck that displays in the background. The effect of the tape deck is subtle, and admittedly very well designed, but it seems a bit off putting to me.

Maybe I’m getting loopy as I get older, but I like the tape deck animation. If you don’t like it, swipe down and you get album art for the currently-playing show.

Where I think Podcasts falls short (and Knight touches on this as well) is in providing for a single iCloud-backed set of podcast subscriptions. If I subscribe to a podcast in iTunes on my Mac, it should show up as a subscription on Podcasts on my iPhone. And, yes, there should be per-device subscription options — I might want to keep an archive of old shows on my Mac with its big-ass hard disk, but only the most recent new episode on my iPhone and iPad. But I shouldn’t have to sync my devices with iTunes on my Mac just to sync podcast subscriptions. Podcasts seems like a perfect example of something where iCloud should be my digital hub — just like how iTunes Match works for music.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012