Apple has just issued Podcasts version 1.2, which brings a long list of improvements to the iOS app. Among the changes are a new feature that lets users generate their own custom playlists with any podcasts they choose, with auto-updating of new episodes for each. Stations are stored in iCloud and synced across devices, and users can choose to start with either the most recent episode or oldest unplayed one.
The update also adds on-the-go playlist creation and syncing of playlists back to iTunes, and fixes a problem users were reporting with playback not resuming correctly when jumping back into the app from another or the home screen. The interface has also been changed, notably doing away with skeuomorphic elements in favor of something cleaner and more in line with the native iTunes music player.
The playback issues and interface were both resulting in some pretty negative reviews from users on the App Store. Now, the app looks to be much improved, and the new Stations feature actually adds a lot of value versus the old instantiation where podcasts were simply rolled in as part of the Music app on iOS.
Apple has a lot of competition in the App Store for its own podcasts app, including Casts, Podcaster, iCatcher and PodCruncher to name a few. Its original release of Podcasts failed to impress a lot of users, but this second kick at the can looks to get a lot of things right on the surface at least, which could mean less breathing room for the non-Apple competition.