Looks like early speculation that Apple will be releasing standalone apps for some sections of iTunes may be confirmed as a new app called Podcasts showed up in the App Store today.
Podcasts, available for devices running iOS 5.1 or later, is a supped up version of the category in iTunes. Aesthetically laid out with artwork
squares like album covers from each podcast, your subscriptions automatically show up on the opening screen. You can also change the layout to an easier to read list to see all audio and video podcasts.
A new feature in the app called Top Stations is equipped with a radio like dial that allows you to scroll through categories, listing the top listened to podcasts. Swipe the dial to navigate to a category, then scroll down to see their listings. Subcategories have also been included, for instance in the Arts genre, subcategories for Design, Fashion and Beauty, Food, etc. have been embedded. This is a great browsing feature, especially if you are a new podcast listener looking to explore. You can also search the old fashion way through the Catalog, which switches over to the more traditional iTunes podcast genre look. Just like the Apple iBooks app, the Library button will take you back with the always nice flipping transition.
Once you have decided on an episode to listen to, the control buttons and artwork are displayed. Similar to the music player you can also view the episodes in a list display like track listings. With a simple flick you can also reveal the podcast player designed as an old reel-to-reel tape player, complete with speed up and slow down controls, along with a share button and sleep timer. It is a universal app working on both iPhone and iPad, both versions looking and working identically.
Apple has definitely designed a simplistic player with the most essential features, the biggest plus is the large selection of shows to choose from. And it’s free. Will it replace all other podcasters on the market? I think it just might.