Apple Quietly Releases Their Standalone Podcasts App Ahead Of iOS 6

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It wasn’t long after the iOS 6 developer beta first started hitting devices that people started noticing something peculiar about its iTunes app — the iTunes U, Audiobooks, and Podcast sections had disappeared.

That prompted quite a bit of speculation that each of those content types would get their own standalone app when the update launched, and now Apple has seemingly confirmed those inklings by releasing a new Podcasts app for iDevices running iOS 5.1 or later.

Upon launching the app, users are greeted with all of the podcasts they subscribe to laid out in a handsome grid. Not a fan of the blocky default layout? A quick tap brings up a list view of all of your downloaded podcasts for easier access to stored audio and video content.

New to Apple’s Podcast experience is the Top Stations feature, which allows users to browse podcasts based on genre and subsets within those genres. Take the Games & Hobbies genre for instance — swiping left and right within that set of podcasts will expose users to shows about Aviation, Video Games, Hobbies, and the like.

In usual Apple fashion, they’ve loaded up with the app with skeuomorphic design elements. Scrolling through those Top Stations bears a mild resemblance to the radio dials of yore, and most notably the podcast player itself is designed to look like an old reel-to-reel tape player. The level of detail at play here is what you’d expect from Apple, and there are quite a few neat touches — the rotation rates of those reels vary in accordance with the playback speed controls.

Interested? The free app is available in the App Store now. Now we just have to wait and see if iTunes U and Audiobooks apps soon make their way out of the woodwork as well.