Apple Ships Podcasts with iCloud Syncing Support

When Apple shipped the first version of their own Podcasts app a few months back, I lambasted it for its strange reel-to-reel tape deck skeuomorphic design. There were many problems with the app though other than just the design, such as: sluggish performance, stability, and no option to auto-download new episodes. Apple of course followed up with a few minor releases that fixed some of the underlying bugs, and in turn performance improved as well.

Today Apple release version 1.1.1 with a major feature — iCloud syncing. Now unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve heard many various independent iOS developers complain about how buggy iCloud syncing is, let alone how frustrating it can be to implement in your own app. I have tried apps like Instacast and Downcast which all tout great syncing support via iCloud. In theory, syncing should be seamless between iOS devices — in practice it’s a hot mess. Naturally, one would postulate that if Apple were to build their own Podcasts app with iCloud syncing, that they of all people should be able to implement a flawless syncing solution. You would be dead wrong.

You know iCloud syncing is horribly broken when even Apple’s own Podcasts app can’t even do it properly. Today I marked episodes as played on my iPhone, and then when I opened Podcasts on my iPad — it marked all episodes as unplayed. I kept my iPhone and iPad adjacent to each other, and left Podcasts open on both devices. I watched in horror as neither app was able to sync playback properly.

Apple still seems to have a long way to go before their syncing solution is perfected, however at least you can now auto-download new episodes in the background on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks.