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Apple Has Ruined Its Podcasts App (slate.com) 134

Mike Pesca, host of Slate's daily podcast The Gist, writes about the recent interface changes to Apple's Podcasts app (condensed): Up until two months ago, the Apple Podcasts app was the only podcasting app I used. It gave me a nice, workable list of the shows I liked; let me know when those shows were updated; played the shows easily and without glitches; and offered the option of listening in double speed. I knew where everything was, and I thought of its shortcomings not as features the app was lacking but more like things one simply could not do with a podcast. If the Apple Podcast app wasn't great for sharing podcasts via email or text -- and it was not -- I told myself, "That just must be something that's hard for a podcast app to execute." I figured the best a podcasting app could do was to facilitate sharing the feed of a show, rather than the specific episode I was listening to. I never dared dream I could send a specific time within that episode. What sorcery is that? But sometime in the past few months, the Apple app began to fail me. Of my four basic requirements, three suffered. The list of the shows I listened to was now incomplete. There was no longer a number denoting how many episodes of each show I had on the app. The list of unplayed episodes had melded into the list of played episodes. I was offered the opportunity to browse my "Library," but access to any "card catalog" or "Dewey Decimal System" proved elusive. Apple kept pushing me toward my "recently updated" shows, but these weren't the offerings most useful to me every time I checked back in.

Apple Has Ruined Its Podcasts App

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  • overcast (Score:5, Informative)

    by inicom ( 81356 ) <aem&inicom,com> on Thursday December 07, 2017 @05:58PM (#55698563) Homepage

    I agree with the statements about Apple's podcasts app - the shortcomings made me finally switch to the frequently recommended "overcast" app and after a few days of it I'm regretting not switching sooner

    • by inicom ( 81356 )

      here's a iTunes link to that app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/ap... [apple.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apple has been slowly messing everything up because Tim Cook doesn't have the balls to say no to stupid ideas, where as Steve would fire those idiots in the elevator ride down from his office.

      • by nwf ( 25607 )

        I'm not sure that's the problem. I think Tim thinks these things are good ideas. I'd blame Ives more, he seems to be off the rails.

      • by nomadic ( 141991 )

        Plenty of idiotic ideas came out of Steve Jobs; iTunes still sucked when he was alive.

        • Steve did a lot of stupid things, but when he hit it was usually big. Steve also seemed to eventually come around to the correct idea after he missed though. Sure it wasn't always the best, but it was at least moving in the right direction. Cook is certainly a key part of Apple and probably ultimately more important in their success than Jobs as good ideas don't count for shit if you can't execute, but Cook is not good at vision. He's insanely good at helping execute on someone else's vision, but that doesn
      • From the headlines. It seems that Apples QC department is under some pressure or bad leadership in the middle management.
        It may be that Apple was trying to shove so much stuff out by Christmas and they can fix the software later. It seems like iOS and OS X new version was rushed to be on the new products with a lot of details missing or not perfected, and the probably needed until March to get them out.

    • by cruff ( 171569 )
      I agree, Overcast gives me the tools to listen the way I like, I gave up on the Apple podcast app about a year and a half ago.
    • Re:overcast (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lab Rat Jason ( 2495638 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @06:21PM (#55698695)

      I'm shocked by OPs statements... only because Apple's Podcast app has sucked for much longer than 6 months! Injecting ads into the middle of the podcast, failing to update if the app isn't running in the background (killing the app by swiping up means you won't know you have a new podcast until the app is restarted) and failing to download new podcasts when app clearly has permission to use wifi when the app is not active... these were all things that frustrated me to no end!

      I switched to Overcast about a year ago and Podcasts are finally the awesomeness they should have always been.

      I'm tempted here to launch into a tirade about how bad Apple Music is on the iPhone as well, but I'll leave that for another /. post.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Apple Podcasts app inserts ads? Iâ(TM)ve never ever heard one. Ever. What are you talking about?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I was wondering that too. Is it possible the podcasts simply have ads in them now?

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        The Apple podcast app does not inject ads into the podcasts.

        However, it does suck in most other respects and has now become almost unusable.

        • I guess it's possible that multiple unrelated podcasts had a sudden lapse in editing quality, each one of them cutting to commercials mid-sentence, then returning to the programming without so much as a blink. So I might have been wrong to assume that it was apple injecting those clearly locale based ads... I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong.

          • I believe the Stitcher app does insert ads, possibly the feeds themselves come from Stitcher where they've gone in and edited the podcasts. If that's the case perhaps it's possible you have one or more Stitcher-modified RSS feeds in your Apple Podcasts app.

            But yeah the Apple Podcasts app doesn't insert ads.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        I'm shocked by OPs statements... only because Apple's Podcast app has sucked for much longer than 6 months! Injecting ads into the middle of the podcast, failing to update if the app isn't running in the background (killing the app by swiping up means you won't know you have a new podcast until the app is restarted) ...

        I hate to tell you this, but that second part is very much by design. Swiping to kill an app disables all background downloads for that app, period. It's not supposed to be *possible* for a

    • Overcast is maintained by a single developer and this person has decided to walk away from CarPlay support. Yes, there's a Carplay Overcast app, but it fails to launch and crashes consistently. I mean to the point that it has never worked once in the past year or so.
    • Agreed. My wife and I both switched to Overcast over a year ago when an iOS update rendered Apple's podcast app incapable of reordering the playlist. WTF? Why remove a working feature? I find Apple's dumbing down of an otherwise barely adequate app are inexplicable.
    • The real question that I see, is why is this guys opinion about a silly app making headlines.
      If you don’t like the App switch. When the vendor realizes they don’t have as many users they Will either:
      Fix it
      Break it more
      Let it die
      Kill it
      Sue the successful app
      Sue the users
      Buy some company

    • I tried Overcast for a while, but it didn't work for the way I listen to podcasts. I switched to Pocket Casts, which costs money but is awesome.

      (No, I didn't write it.)

  • That's all (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, 2017 @05:59PM (#55698575)

    You think that's all the ruined. How about the Music App which has gone to hell since 8.3 was released. This is what pisses me off the most

    • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @06:10PM (#55698631)

      You're not supposed to use the 'Music App' from the company who sold you the hardware. You're supposed to hunt for third party apps in the wild, braving spyware and adware, like MEN used to do.

      Tim Cook is basically playing the role of Leto Atreides here. He knows his rule is tyrannical and he's decided to start The Scattering to third party applications.

    • Right? How is it possible that you can "Rate", "Like" and "Love" music in the desktop app, and they all do different things(stupid in it's own right), and then when using Apple Music Radio, those buttons all do different (and sometimes nothing at all) things?!?!?! WTF apple? It's like you don't know what product management is.

  • I'm getting worried about Apple. I'm feeling more and more of the moz://a vibe from it.

    By that I mean we're seeing Apple do more and more things that they want to do, rather than giving customers what the customers desire.

    We've seen moz://a do this with Firefox. While Firefox was initially developed in a way that benefited users, and provided them with a superior browser, over time we've seen the opposite happen. Changes have been made to Firefox not based on any demand or desire from users, but rather just

    • by nomadic ( 141991 )

      "By that I mean we're seeing Apple do more and more things that they want to do, rather than giving customers what the customers desire."

      Apple's always done that, though. I mean, even more than most companies. See, e.g., Steve "You're Holding it Wrong" Jobs.

    • To be fair, I am old enough to remember the last time Apple did this, during the 1990's.

      It will work out fine, Microsoft will give them $150 million, and Steve Jobs will come back.

    • Yeah, this has been going on for awhile, I think the inmates (i.e., the "creatives") are running the asylum. Lots of app updates for the sake of changing things that aren't broken, and a lack of fixes for things that clearly don't work (I'm looking at you, iTunes).

  • by Major_Disorder ( 5019363 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @06:12PM (#55698645)
    For the past couple of years I have noticed that many pieces of software and websites are "improved" to the point where they become unusable.
    Here is a useful hint. If you have an established popular product, web or software, and someone comes along suggesting a "refresh because it is getting stale" Fire them. have them escorted from premises as soon as possible. (With a few swift kicks if possible.) These people serve no useful purpose, and waste valuable oxygen. A refreshed, modern interface will NOT bring new users to your product, but the features that you thought were unimportant, and removed will drive some of your current users away.

    Looking at you Slashdot.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a universal problem. Windows, office and even facebook are obvious examples from outside of Apple's walled garden. The progression is usually the same:

      1. Program starts out simple and functional, if a little rough around the edges and lacking features.
      2. In the next few versions the bugs get ironed out, the important features are sorted and the UI becomes polished to the point where it fades into the background (as a good UI should).
      3. For whatever reason - maybe the main developer got bored and left

    • Most of the good stuff still has an RSS feed and gPodder will do a reasonable job of picking up what you ask for. I refuse to use iTunes or any other walled garden user exploitation sofware. Sadly the internet is dying, soon we will remember the old open internet the same way many people view the 60's as a golden age of "freedom". If it is only available on iTunes then don't subscribe to it.

      • The only way to list yourself on iTunes is by providing a URL for an RSS feed. Trouble is next that lots of websites only submit that URL to a list of podcast directories and never praying a link on their web site. Sometimes it will still get indexed by Google, but you have to search by file type.

    • Fire them.

      From a cannon.

    • by gijoel ( 628142 )
      All too often it's a senior manager with little direct experience with the product that makes that 'suggestion'.
    • The human mind has evolved to solve problems. Once all of the problems have been solved, invent new ones. It's what we do.

      .. and you are 100% correct. It's infuriating. So much great software has been lost to "UI experts" in the past 20 years.

  • Apple has been making similar changes to their tvOS. Won't go into the details here, but they're effectively trying to dumb-down the interface by stripping out useful features. Not sure what logic is driving these changes. Were people really that overwhelmed by the now-missing ability to "Mark as watched" manually?
    • Making nerdy features less prominent to make the UI more approachable is actually a great goal. They always seem to forget to leave the other features in and make them discoverable.

  • They are just trying to homogenize all their applications to make them as shitty as iTunes. I would have had an iPhone a while ago but for the hot mess that is Windows iTunes.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've never used a podcast app. I download podcasts on my computer and copy them to my phone.

    • What decade are you living in? Why wouldn't you want your phone to automatically download podcasts you subscribe to?

  • 1. It now defaults to polling every hour on the hour and if it doesn't reply at that time it gets confused. I had to manually reset every thing to checking once a week (for weekly podcasts) or every day (for anything else).

    2. It tries to Sync everything. The overhead on this is a nightmare. It's like "are you sure you have the rights to view that ... how about now, did they expire ... oops it says you don't have this (thing you listened to already) let me download it again".

    3. You have to both Subscribe an

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shortwave is huge now, you don't even need a data plan or a phone.(I gave my phone away)
    Infowars is even on tonight 4840KHz

  • Pocketcasts on Android recently "improved" their Podcast app and broke several pieces of good usability. Deleting a played podcast no involves multiple taps, batch delete is gone and you can no longer hide podcasts you don't care about.

    I don't know why the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule no longer applies to apps. It's frustrating.
  • I've noticed that iTunes nearly requires a link to the cloud. I thought the idea of a handheld device was so that you didn't have to have an internet connection. That might not be so bad on the phone but it sucks on the iPod.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was the 4s, the 5s was a compromise.

    After that, they're on the usual tech plateau that all tech companies end up on.

    No headphone jack, that's courageous. FaceId? Meh.

    But more importantly, their software is in decline. I'll grant you APFS, that's an interesting achievement.

    But removing the iTunes App Store and leaving it only on the phone? That's stupid.

    Spotlight on iOS no longer shows which folder the app is in. I need that.

    Bluetooth and wifi are always on? Dumb and insecure.

    Apple accessories? Beat headp

  • It's the best IMO, but Apple doesn't seem to allow apps that compete with theirs.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Thursday December 07, 2017 @07:48PM (#55699077) Journal

    Windows, Google Applications, General applications, Android, iOS - UI developers and UI managers or UX or whatever they call themselves, they seem to get it right in one or two iterations and after that, for the most part they are *NO LONGER NEEDED* but management keep these huge teams on and they need to 'fiddle' to justify existence.

    I've whined, easily 100 times across the internet about this, but people just endure it, they don't lose customers due to it, unless it's a particularly egregious screw up unfortunately.

    We're looking at apps with flat colours, no dividing lines, no shading, weird animations, massive massive amounts of white space, no coloured icons, no *GODDAMN LABELLING OF ICONS*, etc. Many of those "gaudy!" things, help you easily identify what you're doing or about to do. While you may still get used to doing things with the app, I find often, I will hesitate for one fraction of a second, maybe even just .2 seconds when I'm clicking unlabeled, uncoloured icons, every.single.time, because my brain has to confirm it's right.
    Problem is, when I do these functions thousands or tens of thousands of times a year, they're wasting my damn time.

    and, boy, oh BOY am I glad I no longer work in first level technical support. I would be horrendously angry over the past 5-10 years, IMMENSELY so. Being able to describe the GREEN SQUARE icon on the left, in the BOX next to the RED CIRCLE ICON and the icon is LABELLED "GO" is vastly easier than:
    "No, click the arrow, yes, it's ..white, like all the other icons, it's going from right to left, yeah it's kind of in the middle of nothing, it's up the top left, no the other top left, no really sir it IS there. You say it isn't? Can you describe what you see? Lots of white eh, any words? No words oh........ what icons are there? ... yes .. an odd shape ok put your mouse over it so we can get the tooltip name for it,......... oh you're on a touchscreen ....... ok ..well ummm "

    Seriously these changes are mind-bogglingly bad for end users and first level support, but as we all know, saves them money having a translation team, doesn't it?

    I loathe it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I just love trying to read light gray text on a white background, that's the best!

    • And me without mod points. But 1000 times yes.
    • Gizmodo gave Windows Phone 8.1 a positive review, and it's full of UX nerd nonsense like this.

      https://gizmodo.com/windows-ph... [gizmodo.com]

      Giant, no-caps headings are still a terrific alternative to the tired and needlessly skeuomorphic concept of "tabs." Windows Phone's almost complete lack of borders in favor of cleverly utilized bands of negative space still makes it one of the best looking interfaces around. Live tiles are still colorful, and striking, and a somehow weirdly fun take on icons, even if an army of widget-squares maybe isn't quite as nice as having a proper notification hub.

      However look at the comments

      You don't find Windows 8 hard to support?

      "Are you on the desktop or "tile" screen?"
      "What's the tile screen?"
      "The screen with all those tiles..."
      "Oh...no, I'm on the desktop."
      "Can you hit the Windows key and get back to the tile screen?"
      "Where's the Windows key?"
      "On the bottom row of your keyboard."
      "Oh, I see it. OK I'm there."
      "Now hit Windows + I and a menu will pop out of the right side"
      "It does, but every time I move my mouse near it it disappears..."
      "*sigh*"

      I didn't say it's easy to support. I said it's not that hard of an OS to us once you actually try. It's terrible to support because people are fucking stupid. That's where WebEx comes in handy.

      Windows Phone managed to stagger on for one more release before Microsoft killed it.

    • by Bob_Who ( 926234 )

      but as we all know, saves them money,... doesn't it?

      I loathe it.

       

      EC3:

      So much for the Afterglow... Ever Clear
                    I come to you beyond belief.... Elvis Costello
                                    The world's a mess its in my kiss... Exene Cervenka

    • The current horrible trends in UI/UX design are exacerbated by the fact that these designers are invariably young with good eyesight. They should be forced to use their own interface with a blurred color filter cos heaven forbid any of their endusers be colorblind or old.

      I'll admit this had never even occurred to me until my grandmother started developing glaucoma and other visual issues. She's legally blind now, but perhaps clearer UIs would have enabled her to learn podcasts/audiobooks while she still h

    • I believe it is because they are unwilling to accept people from outside their development team. Be it users or customers. It is a stricly bottom down hiarchy. I have serveral banks because reasons and thus several apps. One bank has the text 'banking' on their app instead of the name of the bank.
      Would be fun if others where equally stupid.
      And when you get a reply at all after feedback, it willbe anuce "fuck off".

    • by jasenj1 ( 575309 )

      My parents (70ish) just bought a new Mac after having OS 9 & early OS X machines for many years. They called me to help get them set up. Wow! Explaining user interface elements over the phone was PAINFUL. Flat UI design has totally removed the visual identity of a button. A big rectangle with a word in it is not recognizable as a button. A circle is not a button. A word floating in space is not a button.

      There were so many things that as a person who uses a computer daily & many different application

      • And, hey, thanks to the genius at Apple who decided to make the scroll bars disappear. Wouldn't want a user to know there was more to view in a window.

        That genius must not even use a Mac. Have you ever tried to click the last item in Finder in a list view when the left/right scroll bar has disappeared? The second you click where the item is, the scroll bar magically appears over the top of it and you end up scrolling the window instead of selecting the item you want. Perfect usability.

  • ...taking an app that's popular and easy to use and fubarring its UI to the point that it drives users crazy. If it's not a word it should be.
  • The new UI for the Podcasts app is really awful, but I can chalk that up to the general dumbing down of user interfaces everywhere. My big problem is just basic functionality...you can't have a bunch of podcasts (even in the same feed!) play one after the other, so you have to mess with the phone when one ends to start the next one. This kills usability for me, because I really don't like touching the phone while I'm driving. I'm not usually in 5 MPH traffic crawling along...it's usually 45-55 MPH heavy tra

  • Apple ruined so many things recently that focusing on a single one greatly reduces the extent of the "problem".
  • The real problem started when you used an Apple product to try to do a thing. See, if you don't do it precisely the way their engineers and marketing department designed or want to do something slightly different or additional, it's not going to work and you're going to be unhappy...like this example.
  • A huge gripe of mine is that the podcast playlists node was removed. The playlists that I've created in iTunes still sync to my iPhone, but there's no way to play the damn list. The removal of the Podcast Playlists node has presented itself with the last 3 major releases, then it appears later. Still waiting....sigh.
    • by cjmnews ( 672731 )

      I used to use smart playlists for my podcasts. Once the podcast app stopped supporting them a couple of years ago, I had to find an alternative. Overcast was it. No I can't use my playlists, but it at least works to get podcasts and play them in the order I want. No need for syncing, or iTunes or playlists. If you want playlists added back to the Podcasts app, then you'll need to log a bug at bugreport.apple.com I have seen several changes because of bugs logged. The star ratings are back because of a

  • Did I miss something? This was a Podcast Aggregator or even a "Podcast app". It was not for podcasting.

    The word is analagous to "broadcasting". A podcast app is more comparable to a Tivo or even a VCR. Neither of those would often be acused of broadcasting.

    A few years ago, I was polled to ask if I had ever tried podcasting. I haven't but I do listen to a good number of podcasts. The result of the poll was that podcastts are silly because nobody listens to them as roughly 0% of people do any podcasting

  • Apple didn't ruin the podcast up. They ruined the entire f__king platform.

    iOS 11 is probably the single worst release they've ever put out. They're already at 11.2 after only 3 months, my bluetooth has become frustratingly unstable, the apps are definitely more wonky...

    I'm beginning to regret buying my iPhone 7 earlier this year. I never imagined that Apple would screw up iOS so badly. But here it is. Apple is supposed to sell premium devices with premium experiences. That's why they charge premium pr

  • The new app is universally hated. I’ve been reading bad reviews everywhere. In the App Store itself there are no bad or good reviews, apparently the reviews have been disabled. How can apple fumble something so bad? During the beta tests my feedback was constant about all sorts of problems with the UI and the workflow. It does not work as simply as it used to, or the way it should since the old way wasn’t perfect either but at least it was usable.

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