Users Despair at Apple Podcasts App After iOS 14.5 Update

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

All of these design complaints and reports of new bugs come alongside many of the pre-existing problems with marking as played and syncing.

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.

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