Is Apple putting Podcast out to pasture?

By , Feb 18, 2013

Podcasts for iOS (iPad screenshot 001)

Apple’s Podcast app was released alongside iOS 6 in September 2012 and soon after drew the ire of design conscious users who saw it as a prime example of how skeumorphism devalues usability. That was only tip of the iceberg because users kept on hammering the software in iTunes ratings over its user unfriendliness, slow performance, lack of basic features and a whole host of other issues that go far beyond just teething problems.

And with just 1.5 stars based on nearly 6,000 ratings in the App Store, Podcast is the worst iOS app Apple has ever made, period. Venting his frustration with Apple’s seemingly ignorant handling of the app, John Herrman in an article on BuzzFeed titled “Apple’s Podcast Disaster” raises some valid concerns regarding Apple and the future of podcasting…

The article summarizes a number of unpleasant Podcast reviews on the App Store.

For example, one reviewer asks rhetorically whether it is too much to ask for the ability to see the whole title of the episodes. “Horrible in every way,” reads the most recent review. “Oh, and this app cost me $40 in overage uses on my data plan.”

And my favorite trashing: “Worse than iOS Maps.”

Well, that one pretty much says it all.

podcasts ss

Other reviewers complain about constant crashes, misbehaving or deleted podcasts and various other glitches.

By the way, Apple has a Twitter account dedicated to tweeting out new podcasts.

In addition, Apple’s keynotes are on iTunes as these video podcasts:

Apple Keynotes
Apple Keynotes HD
Apple Keynotes 1080p

And the company’s quarterly earnings are available as audio podcasts here.

Taking it all in, Herrman suggests Apple might not have fixed the Podcast app yet because podcasting just isn’t as important to the company as it would have you believe:

More worrying, perhaps, is the simple fact that Apple hasn’t done anything to fix an app that is so obviously in need of help. The company is not short on resources, but appears to have dedicated virtually none to the app that serves as the sole official way to download podcasts on iOS.

Herrman quotes CollegeHumor’s Jeff Rubin who hosts a long-running comedy podcast called “The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show”. Rubin reveals a remarkable 80 percent of the listening for the show comes from Apple devices, adding:

If Apple really had an interest in pushing it, I bet they could double the number of people consuming podcasts just by redesigning the iTunes store.

Herrman wraps up nicely:

One wonders if Apple is treating its podcast app like it did its Remote app, which was reported to have been created by a team of one.

First mentioned in a February 2004 article by journalist Ben Hammersley of The Guardian, podcasting – a portmanteau of the words “pod” (from iPod) and “broadcasting” – rose to prominence when Apple in June 2005 released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts.

And when it started suing developers for using the term “iPod” or “Pod” in the name of their product and issuing C&D letters to infringing podcast app developers, Apple pretty much ended independent advancement of the podcast medium.

It is surprising that Apple is now handling the medium it helped popularize so poorly unless, of course, that’s a sign of the rumored paid-for and free iTunes channels soon replacing audio and video podcasts.

Do you listen to audio podcasts?

How about video podcasts?

And while we’re at it, has podcasting lost its allure and perhaps even run its course?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000945354629 Avery Massenburg

    Video Podcasts, Yes. Audio Podcasts, No, unless I find a good reason to.
    Most of my subscribed Podcasts are usually people I’m subscribed to on YouTube That way I can ignore the YouTube mess.

    • http://www.ryankparker.com/ Ryan K. Parker

      That’s a pretty great way to handle youtube info. Hadn’t thought of subscribing that way before.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000945354629 Avery Massenburg

        It’s a good idea, but unfortunately not every channel has a Podcast so for some, like iDownloadblog, you would still need youtube for.

  • http://twitter.com/southcackalack Lemerio P.

    I use the Podcast app quite often and never had a problem with it. No crashing or anything…

  • bdegrande

    Most of my entertainment is podcasts. mostly audio. I think podcasts are still in their infancy. many still don’t know that they exist. Apple’s podcast app is horrendous.

    • http://www.ryankparker.com/ Ryan K. Parker

      agreed. I think there is a lot more to come for podcasts, Apple may not be leading the charge with that though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeffery-Simms/100000434386430 Jeffery Simms

    Right now I’m not, cause due to some tweaks it has made using it better and honestly I like the app because I can stream the podcasts instead of just downloading and letting down take up space. If Apple would just provide a good update for it to handles some of the issues with it it could be a great app

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Robichaux/33309420 Stephen Robichaux

    I listen to several podcasts everyday. I have hated the Podcast App since the day it was released. There is no way in which it is an improvement from the old method of downloading and listening.

  • Jeffnnc

    I use Downcast. It’s much better and has lots of customization features. It also syncs between iOS devices using iCloud.

  • CollegiateLad

    Love the app. Use it daily. Like most things reported, the user distaste is exaggerated (at least for me).

    • http://twitter.com/doubleaa25 Adham

      I have to agree. I rarely use it but every time I use it I never come across an issue. A lot of those bad reviews on App Store anyway are users just unhappy that podcasts aren’t in music app anymore.

    • http://www.ryankparker.com/ Ryan K. Parker

      It’s a little “buggy” for me, but it hasn’t been a deal breaker. I do find I would like a little more functionality from it.

  • Jerry

    I love podcasts I listen to all my house music sets that they release as podcasts. But I have to say the podcast app is a disaster and I thought I was the only crazy one that realized the pain in the ass to just view the whole podcast title. Apple fix this please!

  • stevesup

    Apple budgets development time on apps apparently. If so, much as I love them, the Podcast app falls pretty far down the list of critical apps; iOS app developers do a pretty good job handling the tasks. And I think Apple tries to leave noncritical apps in the hands of developers. Lots of good examples: weather, stocks, even music apps, tho’ not the purchasing thereof.

    I wonder if that’s what caught Apple off guard on maps. I was using TomTom for the last couple years as a paid app on the iPhone. Worked plenty well. Did Apple think maps would remain TomTom, Garmin, or Magellan paid apps? Did it miss the moment when maps became critical, at least as Google cudgels? Call it the Adobe moment: An ally suddenly cripples apps on your platform to support platform B.

  • chjode

    I guess I’m old fashioned, but I subscribe to podcasts through iTunes and then sync to my iPhone every few days.

    That said, if I want to grab a podcast directly while on my iPhone, I use Downcast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1405935954 David A. Dufour

    I have no problems with the podcast app. There are apps that are more feature-rich, but Podcasts is not a bad app, IMHO. Podcasting is not dead, by a long shot. It’s experiencing some resurgence, I think. And it’s evolving. Apple may also be holding off until the Personal Audio LLC issue is put to bed. They already got sued for those trolls over playlists.

    As a podcaster, I do wish Apple had a “go-to” person regarding the podcast index and rankings etc. It’s virtually impossible to talk to anyone involved in it.

  • http://thedadams.com/ Donald Adams

    Funny that this article is posted the day after I ditched the Podcasts app for Downcast. The poor syncing with the Podcasts app is what put me over the top. Not to mention episodes constantly being marked unread months after listening to them.

  • Todd Cochrane

    You folks that write these articles should reach out to the companies that have the statistical data and ask them what the trending looks like. RawVoice in the coming days will post an article about what is really happening with the Podcast App in iOS.