July 26, 2012
Apple Podcast App Update Better, But Still Proves Buggy
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It seemed like a good idea at first: Developers began to notice that the “podcasts” section in iTunes was missing in beta versions of iOS 6, leading them to believe that Apple would soon release a standalone app for podcasts, just as they had done for their iTunes U offerings.
Shortly after the rumors began flying, Apple proved us all right, releasing Podcasts, an app for all post-PC devices running the latest version of iOS.
Initial reviews were positive as bloggers and journalists praised Apple for putting their podcasts in one, easy to use app. There were even some pretty cool features, like giving users the option of streaming their podcasts or downloading them straight to the device. Any previous podcasts on the device were automatically moved over when the app was downloaded, a nice touch for those users who subscribed to many podcasts.
It didn´t take long for the shine to wear off, however. A few days after the app was released, the same reviewers who praised the app early on began to notice some of its flaws - flaws which became glaringly obvious after a few days of use.
In my personal use, I noticed that the app only worked consistently when the podcasts were downloaded to my phone, and even then, it was hit or miss. Streams were terribly slow to load, and would sometimes never load at all. I gave up on more podcasts than I listened to. Artwork was often missing for my podcasts, not a huge deal for me but a little annoying.
Most frustrating of all was the app´s stubborn refusal to work again once a stream was interrupted. Either the app would simply refuse to pick up a stream once it stopped or it would fail as a result of my interacting with it.
For example, asking it to go back 10 seconds was more than it could handle. Trying to find other podcasts was right out. I quickly learned to treat the app in the same way I treat the cat that lives with my wife and I: If I didn´t touch the thing, it would largely act as it should. However, once I tried to interact with it, it would bite my hand and run away, refusing to come back without a restart.
Eventually I gave up on the app, opting for my tried and trusty podcast streaming apps, hoping that Apple would one day repair this faulty version.
Well, they´ve finally done it. The latest version of the Podcasts App was released yesterday, and it promises to fix all the issues I had with the app as well as issues other users were complaining about.
According to Apple: “Podcasts 1.0.1 provides a number of improvements, including:
• Significant improvements to performance and stability
• Podcasts in your library now show the number of unplayed episodes
• Top Stations now show the podcast title if artwork is missing
• Playback speed is now remembered when playing the next episode
• Fix for a problem where the Subscribe button is inactive
• Resolution of an issue where Top Stations artwork may not appear”
The app update is available for free through the iTunes App Store, though if reviews are to be believed, Apple hasn´t fixed much at all. Since the update rolled out yesterday, Podcasts has received 239 ratings, 114 of which are of the dreaded one-star variety.
Many users are complaining about slow-loading podcasts, crashes, and lack of syncing support with iTunes.
In my own experience, I´ve noticed a slight improvement over the initial version, though I´m still too scared to interact with it too much.
As a bonus, the award of most angry App review goes to a user known as “Prefect,” who expressed their frustrations with an all-caps, “APPLE GET A REAL PROGRAMMER TO FIX THIS!!” and later, “Did anybody test this? UI designer? Hellooo?!”