Apple refreshes Podcasts app UI, adds custom stations
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rolling out a revamped version of its much-criticized Podcasts application for iOS, adding a series of new customization features and refreshing the user interface.
The free Podcasts app, first launched in mid-2012, enables iPhone and iPad users to manage podcast content directly on their device, bypassing direct downloads from Apple's iTunes storefront. The new version 1.2 allows users to create personalized stations featuring their favorite podcasts--each station is stored in Apple's iCloud and automatically updates when a new episode is released, syncing across all of the consumer's iOS devices. Users may choose whether their stations begin playing with the newest or oldest unplayed episode.
Podcasts 1.2 also adds support for on-the-go playlist creation, letting users add single episodes from multiple podcasts. In addition, playlists synced from iTunes now appear in the Podcasts app.
The Podcasts revamp also abandons the skeuomorphic, tape deck-inspired UI elements of the original version in favor of a "now playing" screen recalling Apple's stock Music app. Apple also has addressed an issue with resuming playback when returning to the app and promises related performance and stability improvements.
Available for devices running iOS 5.1 or later, Podcasts integrates hundreds of thousands of free audio and video programs spanning more than 40 languages--consumers may browse categories including arts, business, comedy, music, news and sports, or view the Top Charts feature to identify the most popular broadcasts. The app supports both live streaming and downloading for offline listening, and it allows users to share favorite episodes via Twitter, Messages and Mail.
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