It’s not just you, the Apple podcast app is a disaster


Never before has a phone update felt so much like a blatant act of hostility.

As I had last left my Apple podcasting app, paused after catching up on dishes on You are wrong, all of my audio files were in a blank, easily accessible queue. I woke up yesterday to find them decimated into smoldering rubble. Nothing was out of place, many podcasts were simply gone, and worst of all, the damage was not even the result of a glitch, but rather of an ostensible improvement. (You know how, in the Dadaist sense, totally destroying something can be considered to improve it?)

I was also not the only victim to cry foul following the iOS 14.5 update. In fact, I was late, having resisted the digital overhaul out of sheer laziness. It turns out that people have been unhappy with it since the end of April.

Complaining about an app update is part of the routine of the 21st century. Any modification of the precious parameters of his phone invites a scandal of indignation. Underneath it all, however, the real complaint almost always revolves around the nature of the change itself. Having to put in a little extra effort to navigate an app that has become second nature adds a little edge to the day. Basically, it can be a chore to relearn an interface you already know. But after a few initial grunts, most people just adjust until, before they know it, the process starts all over again with the arrival of the next update.

This time it’s different. The Apple Podcast update is rightfully terrible.

On the bright side, the redesigned exhibition pages are quite sleek, and the collections organized on the Research tab make it easy to find. But while previous app bugs included skipping read, inaccurate timestamps, asymmetric UI elements, and unresponsive scrolling, the issues with this update are, puzzlingly, by design. .

The Podcast Library, now structured like Apple’s Music app, is made up of five sections: Recently Updated, which is the landing page; Latest episodes; Shows; Downloaded; and registered. None of them seem like an ideal default podcast storage unit.

Previously, just watching an episode of a podcast placed the show in your library, like a sesame seed in your gum tissue, until you were ready to kill it. You can click on a cloud icon and mark the episode in your library. It has not yet been downloaded, occupying data storage; it was right there, ready to go, if you had wi-fi and were in the mood. After updating, however, downloading an episode puts it in the Downloaded section, while introduction to Shows or Recent Update is only possible by subscribing.

This means that any podcast episodes that users could have booked but had not yet subscribed to were automatically deleted from their phones with the update. If everything in that purgatory space between browsing and downloading had automatically moved to the new version, the change might have been almost understandable. But this is not the case. Now, the hundreds of podcast episodes I intended to listen to, carefully curated over time, often combing through a library of 500-episode shows, are just dust in the dark. wind. To eliminate so much personal effort is utterly disrespectful.

Now, that certainly helps the creators of the app steer people towards subscriptions. (By the way, they’re now called “follow-ups.”) However, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to decide whether to bring a show home. As someone who constantly runs multiple tries with multiple shows, my Shows and Last Episodes sections now appear to have been affected by the Thanos Snap. It’s kind of nice to have an excuse to start building a podcast library again, but I’d rather it be my choice, rather than the one imposed on me by Apple.

As I tried to rebuild my library, I encountered other difficulties. For example, there is no way to switch from an episode of Downloaded to the page where that show is located to subscribe. Users have to switch to the browse feature, which makes the restore chore even more tedious. That’s a small gripe, but annoying nonetheless, especially since other update features seem to get railroad users to subscribe more. (I want to say following more.) What an easily avoidable oversight! The lack of care taken in this update is frankly mind-boggling.

When it comes to shows that users end up following, the Recently Updated and Shows sections now house their entire back catalog. The only easy way to jump to the episode you actually want to listen to, if it’s not the most recent offering, is to go to Downloaded. And when removing an episode from this section, it remains hidden both in the latest updates and in the shows. That satisfying and irritating feeling of deleting a finished podcast, like crossing off an entry from its to-do list, is now complicated by the fact that users will likely scroll through that episode again several times.

The whole experience of finding and listening to shows is now completely depersonalized. This new update still feels like you’ve borrowed someone else’s phone to listen to a podcast on it. I really can’t remember another instance where an update made the user experience of an app so terribly incomprehensible. Who would have thought that these changes would be adopted?

With this update, Apple practically dares users to jump ship and make it into a new podcast on Overcast or Spotify. If only the same digital laziness that kept me from updating my iOS for six weeks also didn’t make the podcast app switch so laborious, that’s exactly what I would do, too.

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