Skeuomorphism is at its best when it generates a neat and interactive experience between the user and the touch device. Apple has recently implemented Skeuomorphic Design very deeply in most of its Applications, be it the Contacts App on the iPad or the iBooks Application for iOS. Its struck the right chord many times but has also gone overboard with the idea quite a few times. Podcasts for iOS falls somewhere in between.
Just a few days back Apple quietly rolled out a Podcasts application for iOS Devices. The application appreciated by many puts the wide range of podcasts on the iTunes Store into a live streaming application which more-or-less works like a radio of sorts. Apart from that, the Podcasts discovery is also very easy. With a “Popular Stations” Tab on the home Screen you can easily browse through the best in All Categories of Podcasts. And Listen to a Live Stream or Download by the tap of a button. Its a perfect utility for those looking for a quick and snappy news read, or a casual listening to the favorite podcasts.
But What Holds back this app, is its “Now Playing UI”, Its over-flooded with Skeuomorphic elements like a retro style high-speed scrubber, or crammed together square play, rewind and forward buttons. This UI turns out to be so sluggish sometimes that I end up closing the app. Scrubbing is the worst part. The experience is worse on the iPhone / iPod and ever more irritating on an A4 Device. They could have easily gone with the old Music app UI which is quite neat or gone with the new Music Layout, the one that’s coming out with iOS6. Both of them are much better than the Podcasts’ app.
The Podcasts app can indeed do a spin-around for Podcasts, with this update But only if they get some key UI Elements right.