Apple has released its all-new standalone Podcasts app for iOS, perhaps indicating an increased desire on behalf of the Cupertino-based company to take full advantage of the vast repository of several hundred thousand free podcasts which it currently hosts on iTunes.

Of course, podcasts are nothing new to iOS and users have long enjoyed the ability to listen to downloaded podcasts within the default Music application, in addition to being able to discover new content within iOS via the native iTunes app. However, though this method still remains open to those who wish to use it, the rolling out of a standalone app should offer a more streamlined experience to fans of the popular digital broadcasting medium, with streaming of podcasts properly implemented (arguably for the first time) in a first-party iOS app.

Podcasts also ushers in a new playback interface which resembles a reel-to-reel tape recorder, reflecting Apple's recent trend toward implementing user interface designs which look like their real-life counterparts. The reel-to-reel interface comes complete with cutesy tortoise and hare icons which slow-down or speed-up playback, respectively, in addition to slightly tweaked skip functionality: Whereas the native Music app features a 30 second rewind button, Podcasts instead offers a 10 second rewind button, alongside a 30 second skip button.

Owners of older iOS devices should be aware that Podcasts requires iOS 5.1, thus shutting out the app to any iPhone older than a 3GS, though the original iPad is supported, as is the third generation iPod Touch and newer. Those running iOS 5.1 or newer can hit the source link below to check out the app in question.

Source: Apple