What I want Apple to do with Podcasts

On this week's The Talk Show, John Gruber, Adam Lisagor, and John August spend some time talking about Apple's new Podcasts app. At one point (46m 34s, if you're playing at home), Gruber outlines what he wants Apple to do with Podcasts.

"The thing I want from a podcasts app - the thing I want from Apple - is I want them to put my podcast subscriptions in the cloud. And […] when I say 'I've subscribed to this podcast' it's all stored in the cloud, and then whichever device I look at, they all just know which ones I subscribe to. 'Cause the way this works is if I subscribe to a new show on my Mac in iTunes, today, then I go to my iPhone and open it up, that podcast is not in the Podcasts app yet. I have to sync it. That's crazy right? Isn't that what Steve Jobs told us a year ago that we wouldn't have to do anymore?"

What I want might be a little greedier, and probably a lot more work for Apple to do, but it seems technically feasible. I'll lay it out:

  • I want what Gruber wants, sure. I want a list that's stored in iCloud with all my podcast subscriptions.
  • I want it to be updated with which episodes I've listened to and which I haven't.
  • Additionally, I want it to store playback time location.
  • I want it to be a system-wide store, like Calendars, that can be read and written by third party applications.

The upshot would be huge. If I'm talking with a coworker, and he says "Oh, hey, do you listen to "The Moth"? This week's episode is really good" , and I could open iTunes and click the subscribe button on my Mac, and I listen to the first 20 minutes before I have to head off to a meeting. Fast forward an hour, and I'm about to head home. I open Instacast, and it sees the updated iCloud Podcasts info, and after downloading the episode of The Moth, I can pick up right where I left off before my meeting. When I get home, I turn on my AppleTV and I can listen to the last part of the episode right there, through the AppleTV's native podcast support.

Instacast, on it's own, handles most of this. It syncs subscribed podcasts, episode status, and playback location across the iPhone and iPad App pretty well. This seems like a great spot for Apple to come in with a good solution to take work off its developers, and give its customers a better experience.