One of my favorite new features of the Podcasts app in iOS, on iPhone or iPad, is the ability to stream episodes directly, rather than have to download them. It’s made me much more independent and willing to try out new podcasts; I simply don’t have to subscribe to ones that don’t catch my fancy, then delete and move all the downloaded files.
To the uninitiated, though, the difference between streaming and downloading is a tricky one. Here’s how it all works, and how to either download or stream podcast episodes as you decide which is best for you.
To stream a podcast, you first have to find one. Tap on the store button once you’ve launched the Podcasts app on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, and browse or search your way to an interesting one. Tap into the podcast itself, so you see the information window as in the screenshot above.
Now, to stream any of the available episodes in the list, just tap on the episode title. A little preview square will drop down, looking like a video preview with a white triangle in the middle of it. Tap that, and the podcast will fill your iOS device’s screen. The podcast will play until you hit the Done button, and you can play the audio in the background as any other audio app by Apple.
To download a podcast episode, all you need to do is tap on the little down arrow to the right of the title. This will pull the media file to your iOS device, so make sure you have enough space. This is a great way to try out a podcast episode if you know you’re not going to be within network coverage, but still don’t want to commit to a subscription.
I don’t sync my iOS devices with my Mac anymore, thanks in part to features like this. I like being able to manage my own podcast listening habits, using streaming, downloading, and subscriptions to listen to new stuff more often than ever.