updated 02:58 pm EDT, Tue June 26, 2012
Could become permanently separate app in iOS 6
Apple has released Podcasts, a new universal app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The title expands on the Podcasts section of the iTunes Store, letting people not only browse through podcasts and listen to episodes, but subscribe to them directly. Audio and video podcasts are included; episodes can be streamed or downloaded, and in the latter case, synced back to a computer. Regardless, a person's position in a podcast is kept consistent between all devices they sign in with.
A radio dial-like Top Stations feature can be used to find new podcasts according to topics like arts, comedy, music, and news; some other sorting options include Featured items, Top Charts, Categories, or simply keyword search. More advanced playback controls let users add bookmarks, skip ahead 30 seconds or rewind 10, and turn on a sleep timer without going into an iPhone or iPod's Clock app.
The app is free, but has relatively strict requirements. Devices must be running iOS 5.1 or later, and syncing episodes back to a computer requires iTunes 10.6.3. Podcasts can, however, be streamed or downloaded over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections.
It's believed that the app may end up replacing the Podcasts section of iOS' iTunes app. The section is already missing from the iOS 6 developer preview, as are ones for Audiobooks and iTunes U. iTunes U was spun off into a dedicated app several months ago.