In spite of redesigning its Podcasts app with iOS 14.5, long-standing bugs within the app persist, and Apple has introduced a range of new crippling usability problems, according to hundreds of reports from users across Twitter and Reddit.
Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, accompanied by iPadOS 14.5 and macOS Big Sur 11.3 brought a major overhaul of the Podcasts app, including a new design, a re-thought system of “following” shows instead of “subscribing,” a new centralized location to change new episode notifications, in-app paid podcast subscriptions for the first time, and more.
Apple’s Podcasts app has been infamous among some podcast enthusiasts for its range of long-standing bugs and unreliability. Such bugs have included skipping playback, inaccurate timestamps, skewed UI elements, and unresponsive scrolling.
One of the most bemoaned aspects of Apple’s Podcasts app has been its issues with syncing, where users have found that the app outright fails to sync episodes added to a library, individual podcast settings, and listened to episodes across devices.
Apple sometimes gets an unfairly bad rap for its cloud services—iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive both work well—but whatever they’re doing to sync podcast state across devices is an unmitigated disaster and has been for years.
— Jim Wong (@james_d_wong) April 29, 2021
How many updates do Apple need to release for Podcasts to make the thing sync between devices? What’s the point of putting it on Apple Watch, iPad , iPhone, TV etc if none of it ever bloody syncs? How is it everyone can seem to add sync to stuff like this apart from Apple?!
— Andy (@AndyNicolaides) April 15, 2021
Such problems have supported the rise of some third-party podcast apps such as Overcast, Pocketcasts, and other apps that do not have so many debilitating bugs.
Some users hoped that the overhaul of Podcasts in iOS 14.5 would put an end to these long-suffered problems, but the updated app seems to have included a range of crippling new issues for some users, in addition to the previous problems that have not been resolved.
After the iOS 14.5 update, the Apple Podcasts app is now an active obstacle to listening to podcasts. 🤦♂️
— Velma Dinkley (@marlapropism) April 28, 2021
The new iOS 14.5 Podcasts app is a serious regression. They’ve removed most of the features to bring it down to par with the awful Spotify player.
— Ryan Poole (@rmp135) April 27, 2021
The biggest problem seems to be related to Apple’s re-thought system of following Podcasts, which has replaced subscribing and adding episodes to the library.
For some users, the Podcasts app is now adding and downloading every unlistened episode of every followed podcast to users’ libraries, in some cases stretching back years and many hundreds of episodes.
Updated to iOS 14.5 and the Podcasts app got a facelift!
It also reset all my download preferences to download every episode ever of every podcast I subscribe to. 🤦🏻♀️
— teenerd ☂︎ (@tinaburnell) April 28, 2021
iOS 14.5 Podcast app brought all old episodes that I did not listen, either deliberately or because of timing, back to the feed. So annoying 🤦🏻♂️ ugh.
— N Koh 🐝 (@nakgon_co) April 26, 2021
Some users are reporting that having hundreds of old episodes added to their device is also using massive amounts of mobile data.
The only way to practically use the app for affected users is to manually mark every unplayed episode of every podcast a user subscribes to as played, one by one. Worse still, users will have to continue marking every episode of a podcast that they do not want to listen to as played in order to remove it from view.
So Apple Podcasts app in ios 14.5: i want to hide already played episodes and you didn’t bring over the list of episodes i’ve heard from ios 14.4 so now i have to go through hundreds of episodes and mark each one as played and there’s no bulk way to do that. nice. @AppleSupport
— John Martinetto (@bigjohn) April 27, 2021
Since you can no longer add an individual podcast to your library, you can also no longer remove a podcast from your library, leaving countless episodes in users’ lists with no way of removing them from view except marking them as played and toggling “Hide Played Episodes” on in Settings.
It is not yet clear if this is intended behavior, at least in part. Apple has fundamentally changed the way in which podcasts exist within a library in iOS 14.5. There is no longer a library that users can add episodes to. This means that the “library” side of podcasts that users now see is effectively the direct view of feeds, with all episodes on display, rather than what they have chosen to add or remove themselves.
Since Apple has hamstrung the library feature in iOS 14.5, effectively removing the ability to add or remove episodes, there is even greater confusion among users about how to remove or delete the hundreds of newly-added episodes.
How do you delete played podcasts on ios 14.5
😭😭 plz help. I’m going crazy.
— Kath (@Kath_146) April 27, 2021
I’ll pay you a thousand dollars if you can tell me how to delete a podcast with the new iOS update. Sweet merciful lord of christ.
— Paul West is Vaccinated (@PaulMWest) April 26, 2021
If the hundreds of added episodes are intended, it seems to be a significant oversight, considering that most users do not want every unplayed episode of every podcast they follow in their library.
The new system is fine for listening to podcasts like watching a TV show, with podcasts such as Apple’s “The Line,” where users need to start from the first-ever episode and listen in chronological order, never skipping an episode. But for many types of podcasts, such as news podcasts, where it is pointless to listen to older episodes and users may want to sometimes skip an episode, it is actively obstructive.
All in all, many of these problems seem to be design changes rather than overt bugs, brought on by Apple’s virtual removal of the concept of an individual podcast library.
Other, more simple design changes in iOS 14.5’s Podcasts app have also met the wrath of users. Apple has removed the “recently updated” tab and the ability to see how many unplayed episodes there are per show. Podcasts are also now sorted by the order in which they were originally followed by default.
In Apple’s infinite wisdom, the Podcast app in iOS 14.5 now sorts by date subscribed by default.
— Chris O’Brien (@bigdweeb) April 26, 2021
I’ll probably be switching to something else unless I can find a way to quickly view all the podcasts I follow and when they were last updated like you used to be able to do easily in the “library” tab.
— Justin Yarbrough (@FatElvis04) April 26, 2021
iOS 14.5 bummer. They removed the Episodes list from Podcasts and no longer show how many unplayed ones there are for each show in the Shows view.
— A T L W X (@atlwx) April 26, 2021
Yet there are also a number of newly-reported defects that join the pre-existing spate of bugs, such as crashing and long library load times.
Some users are reporting that their custom Podcast Stations are now virtually defunct, with Stations failing to aggregate the selected episodes correctly, while others are reporting an inability to find unplayed episodes in the new design and problems loading new episodes.
Literally can’t find my unplayed podcasts in iOS 14.5. Not sure what Apple were thinking with the Shows changes in Podcasts but it’s a car crash of UX.
— Rich Paul (@richpaul) April 27, 2021
All of these design complaints and reports of new bugs come alongside many of the pre-existing problems with marking as played and syncing.
@AppleSupport – Podcast app on iOS 14.5 has a TON of episodes across MULTIPLE podcasts that now show as not played. Worse still, I just finished marking a bunch played for one podcast and now it isn’t syncing to my iPad even though sync is enabled.
— A T L W X (@atlwx) April 26, 2021
There are countless complaints about the new Podcasts app on various social media platforms and MacRumors editors have also been subjected to many of the same problems that are being reported.
The best thing that users affected by the plethora of issues in the Podcasts app can do is share feedback with Apple.