Maccast Members #128 - Podcast App
V Podcast App
V Opening
* Apple has officially put out it's own dedicated Podcast App for iOS. I had a chance to play around with it on the iPhone and iPad and thought I'd give my first impressions and reactions
V Installing and launching
* Can download from the App Store via iTunes or directly on the device
V On first launch it seems to go out and grab the podcasts for your device based on the ones you have set up to sync in iTunes
* By default it seems to add the podcasts and shows that are set to sync
V Podcast Management
V When first launched it displays any sync'd podcasts in the podcasts tab in an 2 x X album grid view
* Audio and video podcasts are displayed together
* Podcasts also, for now, are still in the Music and Video apps as well.
* Two tabs at the bottom are: Podcasts and Top Stations
* Catalog button in upper left will take you to the Podcast "store", basically the podcast section in iTunes.
* Now playing button on right to access playback and controls
* Pulling down reveals the 'Edit', search, and grid and list view buttons
V Switching to list view
* Has a "Unplayed Episodes" pre-built playlist at the top. At the moment there doesn't appear to be a way to create your own playlists.
* The list view also displays unplayed play counts and the total number of episodes in the feed.
* In grid view there are no show titles, only the album art to go on until you click trough.
V Clicking the 'Edit' button allows you to remove podcasts from the app
* Press and holding an album for me crashed the app.
* Any updates made in the Podcast app seem to also translate over to the Podcast tab of the Music App.
* If you remove a show from the App, but it's set to sync in iTunes then it will be restored the next time you sync.
* Performing a search returns the rests divided by match sets of shows and episodes
V Tapping a show pulls up it's description and episode list
* The episode list has the blue dots to show unplayed or partially played episodes
* Shows that are are not loaded locally on the device display a download icon.
V there is also an "i" (info) icon to get individual show details
* Title, date added, Type 9audio or video), duration, size, description.
* You can also mark as played or unplayed
* If you are not subscribed to the podcast in the app, the list will only show the episodes sync'd from iTunes
* Does not seem to be a way to remove individual items from the list view (swipe to delete doesn't work)
V Tapping the top title and album art area of the show view takes to to the show settings
* Settings are set per show and there doesn't appear to be any global settings
* Subscription On/Off (Off by default) - App will display new items that get added to the feed, but not download automatically
V When subscription is on you see the Auto-Download switch. Turning on will automatically download new content.
* Can't seem to control this by number of new episodes, etc.
* Sort oldest or newest first
* Mark all as played or unplayed
V Podcast Discovery
* As I mentioned the app starts out by keying off any sync'd podcasts you are already subscribed to in iTunes
* There are two basic ways in app to discover new shows. The Catalog and Top Stations
V Catalog
* This flips the interface around iBook style and Places you in the "Podcast" store
* Featured, Top Charts, Search tabs are on the bottom
* From the Featured and Top Charts screens to can further drill into Categories
* when you locate a podcast you can subscribe which puts you back in the podcast app, or download (downloads an episode in background), or click to stream (but streaming bring up iOS player, doesn't stream in Podcast app).
V Top Stations
* Looks like it's designed to be like a radio
* There us a toggle switch at the top to switch between audio and video shows
* then there is a category "tuner" and swiping back and forth tunes between different categories, like Arts, Business, Technology, comedy, etc. and different content channels (sub categories) within those channels
* Then you get an album view (sometimes) of the top 6 shows in the section. On the iPhone you scroll up and down.
* What's annoying is that it seems limited to just 6 per category (no infinite scroll)
* Also annoying is there is not titles, so if the album art is vague or missing, you don;t know what the show is.
* Tapping the album art starts playing (streaming) the latest episode like the radio
* There is an "i"nfo button. From there you can get show details, and episode list and Subscribe buttons.
V Throughout the app there is the ever present "share" button
* This lets you email, tweet, or message (SMS).
* Send an email, tweet, or message with a link to the feed.
V Podcast Playback
V Design appears to be based on the TG 60 tape recorder which was designed by Dieter Rams, a well known industrial designer who did design work for Braun
* The iOS calculator app is modeled after his Braun ET66 calculator.
V He is also know for forming the ten principles of good design:
* Good design:
* Is innovative
* Makes a product useful
* Is aesthetic
* Makes a product understandable
* Is unobtrusive
* Is honest
* Is long-lasting (not dated)
* Is thorough down to the last detail
* Is environmentally friendly
* Is as little design as possible
* Main interface has album art in the middle, with playback controls along the bottom
* Skip forward, skip back, skip back 10 sec., play/pause, and skip ahead 30 sec.
* Volume control slider and the AirPlay button
* At the top it shows the show name, and chapter titles (yeah!), plus a the episode list button.
* If it's an enhanced AAC hyperlinks also overlay the album art at the bottom.
V At first you notice no other controls, but tapping the album art make it slide up revealing a cool reel to reel tape interface
* Yes the tape reels do unspool and fill up based on the time played and time remaining
V The playhead is there with time played and time remaining
* If it's an AAC you can view by chapter, or click the All chapters button to view chapter tick marks
* There are also chapter skip forward and back buttons on either end of the time line
V Above the playhead are the:
* Share button controls again
* The playback speed controls (0.5x turtle, 1x, and 2x hare)
* Sleep timer: In 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, or 60 mins; When current chapter ends, or when current episode ends
* Moving the playhead sometimes resulted in the counters not incrementing and the head not moving.
V Does seems to sync playback position although for me it seemed inconsistent.
* Appears to work between Macs and devices as long as they are all logged into the same iTunes (Apple) ID
V Closing
* All and all I would say it's an OK first release
V Room for improvement
* No way to manually add a feed. I tried copying a feed URL and clicking on one in Safari, but neither method worked.
* No chapter list for Enhanced AAC
* Missing album art and metadata, specifically "descriptions"
V No support for protected, "membership feeds"
* For this you still have to subscribe in iTunes and sync
* Or use a 3rd party app like Downcast or Instacast
* Top stations needs to be at least made to be infinite scrolling
V I really hope there is more they can do to promote podcast discovery
* I would love to see shared podcast subscription lists
* Maybe through Twitter, Facebook, or my Apple ID I can share my favorite podcasts and podcast episodes with my friends.