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Old May 15, 2014, 02:22 PM   #1
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Podcasts for iOS Updated With Siri Integration, CarPlay Support and Improved Browsing




Apple today updated its Podcasts app for iOS to version 2.1, adding several improvements to the app, which currently has just a two star rating in the App Store. The update includes a new "Unplayed" tab displaying episodes that haven't been listened to, and episodes that are available to stream or download can be accessed from the "Feed" tab.

It's now possible to save favorite episodes to listen to offline and users can also automatically delete episodes after they've been played. Siri integration has been included and Siri is able to play podcast episodes with a "play podcasts" command. Users can also ask Siri to play specific podcasts or stations.

Along with these enhancements, the Podcasts app now supports CarPlay and link sharing via AirDrop. Apple has also released iTunes 11.2 with several desktop podcast improvements.
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This update includes several improvements that make playing your favorite podcasts even easier:

Improved Episode Browsing
- Quickly find episodes you haven't listened to in the new Unplayed tab
- Browse episodes that are available to download or stream in the Feed tab
- Save your favorite episodes to keep them offline
- Episodes can now be automatically deleted after you play them
- Tap on links that appear in podcast and episode descriptions to open them in Safari

Ask Siri
- You can now ask Siri to play podcast episodes by simply saying "play podcasts"
- To play specific podcasts or stations, just ask Siri to play them by name, like "play TEDTalks"
- Please note that Siri may not be available in all languages or in all areas.

Additional Improvements
- Podcasts now supports CarPlay
- Start playing a station right from the stations list -- just tap the Play button next to the station name
- Share links to your favorite podcasts using AirDrop

This update also resolves playback issues after syncing with iTunes and improves stability while downloading podcasts.
Podcasts can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Article Link: Podcasts for iOS Updated With Siri Integration, CarPlay Support and Improved Browsing
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:23 PM   #2
proline
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I hope this properly syncs across all my devices now.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:27 PM   #3
Bahamut Eos
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It's not showing up in my app store to upgrade yet.

I actualy really like the podcast app, when it working well. (which is only sometimes...)

I'm looking forward to the siri addition though.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:28 PM   #4
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That Siri integration is interesting.

I'm a PocketCast user... might have to test Podcasts app to see if it's worth it.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:36 PM   #5
Malbrute
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I might be insane but

I use the podcasts app daily. As a matter of fact I stopped listening to podcasts until v1 came out. I have had a few problems, but not recently or frequently (luckily ) . I'm still waiting for this update, but not being able to tap links was one thing that made me want to use something else for awhile. Being able to use Siri to start stations seems so convenient, I might have to start managing them.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:37 PM   #6
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Siri is a pretty cool addition
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:38 PM   #7
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I've been wanting Siri integration for the Podcasts app for a while now. Should be a bit safer while driving.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:39 PM   #8
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Maybe this has happened before but it's encouraging that Siri integration happens at the app level and not the OS. Still waiting for 3rd party support...
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:41 PM   #9
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I think the bigger news here is that Apple added functionality to Siri by updating an app. Previously when they wanted to add features to Siri, they updated the OS. The fact that they only needed to update the app implies that there is a Siri API that the podcasts app is taking advantage of.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mactumors View Post
I think the bigger news here is that Apple added functionality to Siri by updating an app. Previously when they wanted to add features to Siri, they updated the OS. The fact that they only needed to update the app implies that there is a Siri API that the podcasts app is taking advantage of.
I'm pretty sure they did the same thing with Find my Friends.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mactumors View Post
I think the bigger news here is that Apple added functionality to Siri by updating an app. Previously when they wanted to add features to Siri, they updated the OS. The fact that they only needed to update the app implies that there is a Siri API that the podcasts app is taking advantage of.
Apple can do whatever they want with apps in the appstore. They run the appstore and their apps can break rules.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mactumors View Post
I think the bigger news here is that Apple added functionality to Siri by updating an app. Previously when they wanted to add features to Siri, they updated the OS. The fact that they only needed to update the app implies that there is a Siri API that the podcasts app is taking advantage of.
They can use "unauthorized APIs" because they're apple. But hopefully, there'll be an API with iOS 8 that makes Siri more useful!
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:55 PM   #13
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Just updated on my iPone 5s and it won't stay open. It keeps crashing on me.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:56 PM   #14
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Yay for Siri integration! And double yay that Siri can be upgraded (or at least have abilities unlocked) with nothing more than an app update.
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Old May 15, 2014, 02:58 PM   #15
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Actually.

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Originally Posted by dannyyankou View Post
They can use "unauthorized APIs" because they're apple. But hopefully, there'll be an API with iOS 8 that makes Siri more useful!
Yes. This is in part to do with Apple using private APIs, but what is more interesting is what's happened on the server side of Siri. I tried asking Siri to play a podcast, before updating, and she said: "I'm sorry, I can't do that, you haven't installed the latest podcasts app", with a link to the App Store. This suggests that simply implementing the API isn't actually enough, even if it were open for everyone. This would be a smart way of doing it, so that if an app managed to sneak in with a Siri API in it, it wouldn't be useful anyhow.
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Old May 15, 2014, 03:41 PM   #16
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Siri integration sounds great, and then I tried it. All it ever says is "Uh oh, you don't have the latest Podcasts app." Except I DO have the latest, because I JUST updated the damn thing. What gives?

Edit: Odd, so after restarting my phone it still wouldn't work. Then I started playing a podcast manually and then paused. Then tried again with Siri and this time it worked. What I'm hoping all of this means is that Apple is using this a test bed for 3rd party app integration. Now if they can just get Siri to stop interpreting "Play This Week In Tech" as "Play this weekend."
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Old May 15, 2014, 04:12 PM   #17
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I'm happy they're improving it. Keep trying.

However, I am not happy with the state of synchronizing across my Apple devices. Two computers, and an iPhone, and there has been no time when they've been in the same state. Every so often, it does manage to sync a position within a podcast, and once, synced some subscriptions (which also included ones i unsubscribed from), but it never syncs the "played" state. My mac mini has 119 unlistened-to podcasts, my MBA has 27, and I've abandoned the iPhone app.

Notes.app syncs perfectly, and instantly, and it's so transparent, i never think about it. That data just persists. I wish Podcasts could do that.

edit: Updated the iTunes, and Podcasts, and now my mini has 94, but Podcasts shows 116, and the Podcasts app still claims i'm not listening to most of them. So, ... that sucks.
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Podcast "Unplayed" Sync Status: Mini: 192, MBA: 124, iPhone: 212

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Old May 15, 2014, 04:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahamut Eos View Post
It's not showing up in my app store to upgrade yet.

I actualy really like the podcast app, when it working well. (which is only sometimes...)

I'm looking forward to the siri addition though.
Me neither.Nor does itunes 11.2 show as available to download
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Old May 15, 2014, 04:37 PM   #19
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Also, I still have a lot of problems syncing podcast progress between iOS and OS X. It will sync my list of podcasts, but it often will not recognize the last played point in a particular file on another device (they are all signed into the same iCloud account).

It'd also be nice if they fixed updating of podcasts to Apple TV, which hardly ever works. I would give the Apple TV podcast app zero stars if I could.
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Old May 15, 2014, 04:54 PM   #20
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I updated it. I opened it. It crashes. Rinse and repeat.
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Old May 15, 2014, 05:13 PM   #21
LordJohnWhorfin
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Unfortunately, it maintains the hardcoded limit to 100MB downloads over cell links. At least make it modifiable, for ****'s sake! I have to use a 3rd party podcast app in order to download video podcasts over LTE.
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Old May 15, 2014, 05:18 PM   #22
iGuyS
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Couldn't Update without Deleting

Weirdly, I couldn't update the app because it wanted me to sign in using my wife's iTunes account. I could update all the other apps that had updates, but the App Store wanted my wife's info for Podcasts. Even when I went to iTunes on my computer it wanted me to sign in with my wife's info.

Ultimately, I had to delete the app and reinstall. Now it's fine, but that was weird.
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Old May 15, 2014, 06:18 PM   #23
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No password-protected podcasts still. What's especially frustrating is that Podcasts can see that I'm subscribed to one in iTunes, but it clearly doesn't sync the username and password in order to download them on the device.

So lame. Why is this such a problem? People have been asking for this since the app was originally released.
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Old May 15, 2014, 06:29 PM   #24
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Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by mainstreetmark View Post
I'm happy they're improving it. Keep trying.

However, I am not happy with the state of synchronizing across my Apple devices. Two computers, and an iPhone, and there has been no time when they've been in the same state. Every so often, it does manage to sync a position within a podcast, and once, synced some subscriptions (which also included ones i unsubscribed from), but it never syncs the "played" state. My mac mini has 119 unlistened-to podcasts, my MBA has 27, and I've abandoned the iPhone app.

Notes.app syncs perfectly, and instantly, and it's so transparent, i never think about it. That data just persists. I wish Podcasts could do that.

edit: Updated the iTunes, and Podcasts, and now my mini has 94, but Podcasts shows 116, and the Podcasts app still claims i'm not listening to most of them. So, ... that sucks.
I find it interesting that my podcast sync perfectly with my Apple TV account but with iTunes it makes no sense. It's all over the board so much so that I just stopped trying. Maybe its time for iTunes in the cloud!
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Old May 15, 2014, 07:27 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mactumors View Post
I think the bigger news here is that Apple added functionality to Siri by updating an app. Previously when they wanted to add features to Siri, they updated the OS. The fact that they only needed to update the app implies that there is a Siri API that the podcasts app is taking advantage of.
Siri has had internal support for Podcast requests since at least 7.1. It's inside the "SAObjects" private framework, together with the regular stuff such as searching the web, setting timers, etc.

The Siri architecture (from what I can tell) is that the speech is sent to the server, which responds to the device with a command ID which tells the device how it interprets the command, and what parameters there are (e.g. command = set a timer, parameter = 30 minutes). Siri then looks for the SAObject for that command ID and shows the interface (e.g. the picture of the timer counting down).

What was happening with Podcasts until today is that the server wouldn't ever recognise them. You'd just get a command ID back telling Siri to do nothing, maybe with a witty retort as a parameter. Apple must have flicked a switch on their server, and there's some communication which goes on to make sure you have the right version of Podcasts installed.

It's difficult to extend the Siri architecture to arbitrary apps, because the interpretation is done on the server and not on the client. The interface could be done on the client via the AppStore, but the command interpretation needs to happen on the server.

The only way I could see Siri being extended is if developers could write custom command interpreters in a scripting language like Python or JavaScript which would be uploaded to Apple for them to run on their servers. Those interpreters would only try and catch commands for devices which have the corresponding App installed. There would need to be some serious sandboxing and validation involved if you're letting random developers run code on your production servers, so that's why it hasn't happened yet IMO.
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