Where Did Podcasts Go?
June 18, 2012

Where Did Podcasts Go?

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com

As one season passes, so another arrives. While some rumors about Apple´s upcoming products have been sufficiently quelled with their WWDC 2012 Keynote, other rumors have begun to surface ahead of iOS 6 and new iPhone. After all, with the developer version of iOS 6 out in the “wild,” some developers will no doubt leak a few details here and there to their favorite tech blogs. One such detail is the absence of the “Podcasts” tab in the iTunes store in iOS 6.

First noted by appadvice.com, the “more” tab in iTunes is missing “genius,” “iTunes U,” and now, “Podcasts.”

Apple has already spun-off iTunes U into its own app, so this removal is more than expected. The screen shots on Appadvice.com do, however, show an alive Ping in iOS 6. As you may have heard, Ping is now dead.

The site doesn´t address the inclusion of the defunct Ping in this alleged screen shot of iOS 6, but does suggest Apple could be moving Podcasts out of iTunes and into their own app, much like they did with iTunes U.

A few days later, All Things D supported these claims in a report, saying Apple will begin to slim down iTunes by moving Podcasts to a standalone app. Citing those dastardly People Familiar With the Matter, Peter Kafka reports Apple´s new Podcasts app will allow users to be able to discover, download and play podcasts on their mobile devices. Podcasts will remain in the desktop version of the app, however.

People have long been complaining about iTunes´ expanding waistband, as it became the place to buy and download books, music, podcasts, iTunes U content, TV shows and movies. When Apple announced their new iBook Author app, they also announced a brand new, standalone iTunes U app, separating this part of the content from the entire store. They also split up the music and video players into two separate apps, taking up a little more room on the home page, but making it easier to find different types of media within iTunes and the player app.

Apple has, of course, declined to comment.

Podcasts were first introduced and made available on Apple devices in 2005. Though they didn´t take off as soon as Apple would have hoped, they have found a very loyal following. Spinning off into their own app could be a signal that this medium is finally catching on–or it could be Apple´s way to further push people into adopting the format.

There are, of course, plenty of third-party solutions to podcasts. Those podcast enthusiasts with iPhones of smaller capacity (say 8GB) may prefer to have their episodes streamed to them, rather than take up a large chunk of space. Some third-party solutions, such as Stitcher, allow podcasts to be streamed rather than take up precious space.

Though no real details are available, a new Podcasts app could allow for this streaming of content rather than storing episodes locally. After all, if Apple is ready to adopt a real streaming solution for their iTunes Match service in iOS 6, (currently, iTunes Match only downloads music available in the cloud, taking up space on your device) then they may also be ready to stream their podcasts as well. The new version of iOS is expected “this fall,” probably a day or two ahead of the next iPhone.