I’ve been using iTunes 4.9 to listen to podcasts now, and I wanted to share my impressions.
The podcast directory: this is a UI nightmare. You shouldn’t have mixed this with the music store. Also, like the ITMS, the podcasts home page seems to be different for every country. I haven’t yet found out if it will hide stuff from me, but I just hope it never will – podcasting is as international as it gets, and I’m listening to stuff from all over the world.
When I’m looking at different podcasts in a category, clicking on one of them leads me to the details. Unfortunately there’s no way to get back to where I was in the list, so I have to do the exercise all over again.
Some podcasts are there with different titles and/or descriptions. This may come through feedburner feeds or whatever, but still: it’s confusing.
The “Keep All Unplayed Episodes” feature is very nice and helps keeping your stuff clean. There’s just one thing I’m missing: give me a way to keep interesting ones even if I have already listened to them. And no, I do not want to copy them over to a different playlist.
Allowing me to keep the stuff for a certain period after I have listened to them (i.e. doing the cleanup only after a certain time) would also be nice. That would make it necessary to visually distinguish podcasts that have been listened to from the ones that haven’t – but that shoul not be too hard to do.
Same for the iPod cleanup options: let me decide if I want to keep certain episodes on my iPod, even though I have already listened to them. I might want to play them to other people or get back to them.
The caching issue: I don’t really care.
Broken downloads (Adam Curry mentioned this): I do care. Fix it, please.
On the iPod:
The placement of podcasts under “Music” is a bit strange – I’d much rather have it at the top level. While you’re at it, put Audiobooks at the top level as well and exclude both categories from shuffle.
If I don’t listen to a podcast completely, I noticed that the next time I’m playing it it will continue where I left off. That’s a really neat feature.
I wonder how the “unlistened” detection works – I often skip to the next podcast just before the end (wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that in radio?), and then the podcast is marked as listened to. This also happens if I have only listened to it half way through – it would be nice if this were configurable.
It would be even nicer if you would let me bookmark certain positions and allow me to revisit those bookmarks in iTunes later, so that I can check out the stuff I bookmarked while I was driving.
One thing that really annoys me: there is no way to continually listen to a series of podcasts. Not only can I not have a playlist that plays all my unlistened podcasts in sequence, but I can’t even listen to more than one episode of a single podcast automatically – at the end of each podcast, I’m being thrown back in the menu and have to go back manually to listen to the next one.
All in all: I know this is version 1 – I like it a lot. Keep it up, Apple, and talk to your users! How about an iTunes weblog?