Earlier this week, Apple released a major update to its Podcasts app for iOS. As a fanatical podcast listener, I've tried nearly every major client available for iPhone and iPad, and had settled on Instacast, a remarkable app that combines a strong feature set, good design sense, and a robust syncing backend. I generally like to use the default (or near-default) option when given the chance, especially in the case of Apple, as it usually features deeper integration with the hardware and the operating system - integration which often yields unique benefits to the end user. However, Apple's Podcasts app has simply not been up to snuff, thanks to some questionable design choices, performance issues, and a poorly considered interface.
Fortunately, Podcasts 1.2 addresses the majority of these issues. Much attention has been devoted to Apple's decision to back away from the more skeuomorphic elements of the app, such as the reel-to-reel tape player and tapedeck-like buttons. I think the more important development, however, is the introduction of a sensible navigation hierarchy, which was lacking in previous iterations.
Although I've never bought into the notion of Apple as an image-centric company, I do think that Podcasts as it was represented a triumph of form over function, which runs counter Apple's usually clean fusion of both. The new update rectifies this imbalance. That's what really matters, not whether or not we have a reel-to-reel tapedeck embedded in the app. I'm going to give it another shot as my primary podcast application. I recommend you do as well.