Based on Monday’s WWDC 2012 opening Keynote, I can confidently say that Apple is closely listening to their customers, introducing numerous features that the Apple community has been asking for in the previous couple of years. (I really see iOS 6 as a direct response to customer’s wish-lists.) Apple’s goal is to both provide an ecosystem that developers can thrive in, make customers happy, and balance the two by introducing new features in way that makes the most sense. In the course of this discussion, AllThingsD writes that Podcasts will be broken into its own separate app in iOS 6.
People familiar with Apple’s plans tell me that when its new iOS 6 software becomes widely available this fall, podcasts will have their own app, where users will be able to discover, download and play them on mobile devices. Users who access iTunes via laptop and desktop machines will still find them in that version of iTunes, though.
AppAdvice made note that Podcasts, iTunes U, and Audiobooks have been removed from the iTunes app in the iOS 6 beta, sparking thoughts that Audiobooks could find itself reintegrated into the iBooks app, while Podcasts become its own thing.
Myke Hurley of the 70Decibels Podcast Network writes,
However, if Apple are going to make it a separate app it could help highlight the medium even further to people—they’re no longer in the purgatory of the ‘more’ button. What would be even better is if the app comes built in with iOS6 (like the Videos app) or is promoted by a pop-up like iBooks at least.
Podcasts have been neglected for a long time on iOS. While the iTunes Store provides a platform for success, the podcast player itself is currently in a lackluster state, offering only basic functionality for downloaded episodes. As people began listening to more podcasts, alternative 3rd party podcatchers appeared in the form of apps like Downcast and Instacast to fill in gaps for streaming and creating custom playlists. People love talk radio, and podcasts provide a means for both amateurs and professionals to reach large audiences who want to share in the discussion of their favorite topics. In particular, Apple must enjoy the presence of companies like 5by5 and 70Decibels whose success directly corresponds to the Apple community. Apple’s platform lets popular Internet broadcasters like TWiT, CNET, and Revision3 make podcasts available to audiences interested in tech, while companies like CBS and NBC utilize the service to publish the nightly news, political debates, and important broadcasts pertaining to current events.
Podcasts, whether provided as a platform for news or entertainment, aren’t being ignored by Apple. My guess is that it’s in their best interests to expose new customers to the incredible amount of content they host — again I think this is a case where they’re listening to the community and responding accordingly. As with Reading List vs. Instapaper, Apple’s own podcatcher wouldn’t supplant the 3rd party apps in the App Store. Rather, it could do one of two things: 1.) Get more people discovering and subscribing to podcasts through a podcast directory separate from the iTunes Store (currently the conglomerate for all media), and 2.) Provide those customers with a podcatcher that makes downloading, playing, and finding episodes from their subscribed-to podcasts easy. People who want more functionality already have it and will continue to be able to find it from the App Store.
If Podcasts is an app on iOS 6, I’d be really happy to see it happen. There’s a lot of great content available that people are otherwise missing if they only know the iTunes Store for music and video.
Edit 5:42 pm: Updated the article to note that the iTunes app, not the Music app, removed references to Podcasts, iTunes U, and Audiobooks.