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The free application is now available to download from the App Store. It's an 8.8-megabyte download designed for both iPad and iPhone that requires iOS 5.1 or later.
"Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch," Apple's official description reads. "Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature."
The full list of features in the new Podcasts application, as highlighted by Apple, are:
- Enjoy all of your audio and video podcasts in a single app
- Explore hundreds of thousands of podcasts including shows in over 40 languages
- Try the innovative new Top Stations feature to find new podcast series in a variety of topics, including arts, business, comedy, music, news, sports, and more.
- Browse by Audio or Video podcasts, or see what's most popular in Top Charts
- Tap subscribe for your favorites and automatically receive new episodes for free as they become available
- Stream episodes or download to listen while offline
- Skip forward and back using simple playback controls
- Turn on Sleep Timer to automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed
- Share your favorite episodes with friends using Twitter, Messages and Mail
- Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC
- Sync your episode playback for seamless transition between devices
In order to optionally sync episodes of podcasts, users must be running iTunes 10.6.3 or later on their Mac or PC. Apple also noted that streaming or downloading episodes requires Internet access over Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection.
The launch of the new Podcasts application comes earlier than was rumored, as recent reports indicated that Apple planned to launch a standalone podcast application later this year as part of its iOS 6 operating system update. Previously, users were able to explore and download podcasts through the native iOS iTunes application.