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The much anticipated 2.2 firmware update for the iPhone and iPod Touch was released today. With the update comes a few new features, one specifically that should interest podcasters. Take a look at this image and see if you can spot it in the list…

That's right! Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes application over Wi-Fi and cellular network. I must admit that I was surprised to see the ability to do this via the cellular network. It makes me wonder why I can download a fifty megabyte podcast episode over the cell notwork but not a three megabyte song from iTunes. Who cares, we got our podcast downloads right?

Don't Break Out The Party Hats Just Yet!
I must say that as an end user and as a podcaster, I'm not happy with the implementation of downloading podcasts via the iPhone / iPod Touch. Let me share a few reasons why.

Fumbling Between Two Applications:
The first thing I don't like is that it closes down the iPod Application to launch the iTunes wi-fi Application. Once we finish downloading our podcast episode(s), we have to close the iTunes app and then go back and re-open the iPod application to browse to the new podcast to play it. Seems a bit clunky to me. Not typical of Apple to have so many steps. More on this as you read on.

Taking RSS Out Of The Equation:
The second thing I don't like is that it it get's new podcast data from iTunes instead of the original rss feed. This means that if we used a “One Click Install” option to subscribe to a podcast, when we click “Get More Episodes…” we are taken to the “What's Hot” list in the podcast section of the wi-fi iTunes podcast section.

Let me give you a better example. Let's just say that we were to go to the iTunes Store on our computer, we do a search for Podcast Answer Man, and click on the “Subscribe” button from the Podcast Answer Man podcast page “in iTunes.” If we go through this process, then when we click on “Get More Episodes…” in the iPod application, it will take us directly to the Podcast Answer Man Page in the iTunes wi-fi store and give us options to download more episodes that Apple is currently aware of. More on the aware of part of this in just a moment.

However, let's just say that that we wanted to skip the iTunes store and subscribe the podcast directly. If you have never done this before, you simply click on “Advanced” in the menu of iTunes and then click on “Subscribe To Podcast” and then enter in the url of the rss feed.

If we were to do this, when we click on “Get More Episodes…” in the iPod Application, it WILL NOT take us to the Podcast Answer Man page in iTunes. Instead, it will take us to the “What's Hot” section in the iTunes wi-fi application for podcasts. This happens even if we use the same rss feed that is registered in the iTunes Store. NOT COOL APPLE!!!!

Another issue is that the iTunes store does not stay consistently synced with podcast rss feeds. I might release an episode of a podcast at 8am and it might not show up in the iTunes listing until it next syncs with the rss feed at 5pm later that day, or whenever they choose to resync.

Of course, there are a ton of podcasts that are not listed in iTunes. So for those podcasts that we are subscribed to, we are out of luck.

No Syncing Back To The Computer:
A third thing that I do not like is that you when you do a search in the iTunes wi-fi store for a podcast and you download an episode, it DOES NOT sync back to your computer! What's up with that? Did they do any testing on this functionality at all?

What They Should Have Done!
What they should have done was to turn the iPod podcast functionality into an rss reader. When we click “Get More Episodes” it should read the RSS FEED, show us a list of episodes available in the feed and give us the option to download whatever episodes we want to download right there INSIDE the iPod application.

They should have given the ability to subscribe to a podcast right there from the iPod Application by entering an rss feed as well. Basically, the iPod functionality on the iPhone / iPod Touch should function much like the “podcast section” in iTunes, distinct and feature rich and completely usable, independent of the iTunes Store.

Oh, and of course, whatever we would subscribe to or download on the iPod App should sync back to the computer as well.

I like that they allow us to browse the Podcast directory in the iTunes Wi-Fi store. I really am. However, the fact that you can “subscribe” to a podcast and they don't sync back to the computer. It makes me ask… “Why bother?”

I guess I'm just thankful that they finally approved the Application in the App Store. At least my listeners have some sort of access to the latest content that I produce on the go, including all my premium, password protected content.

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