Sep 252012

I’d like to rant about Apple’s Podcasts app and it’s apparent multiple personality disorder.

I know, there are much bigger things wrong with iOS 6. But until I actually have to drive somewhere I don’t know how to get to already, Maps won’t be a problem for me. What IS a problem for me, RIGHT NOW, is the new Podcasts app.

I listen to hours of podcasts a day, while commuting, lunching, and going to sleep. And with iOS 6 Apple has removed podcasts from the iTunes app and from the Music app, forcing us to use the Podcasts app to download and listen. And I’m not even here to rant about the problems with the app indicated by the thousands of one-star reviews it’s getting for being obtuse in other ways. I’m mad at the incoherent and inconsistent UI appearance.

You may have heard there is a war on at Apple regarding skeuomorphism in their software. It would appear that this war is going on right in the middle of the Podcasts app.

Take a look at this screen, which is the playback UI in the Podcasts app:

At the top we’re seeing the normal iOS buttons for going back where you were, and getting to a list. No problems there. Standard iOS controls, not simulating a real-world interface. Below that, we have a pointless partial view of the podcast’s logo, over top of and partially obscuring what tries really hard to be a reel-to-reel tape deck, complete with spinning reels and tape that moves from one reel to the other as the podcast plays.

WTF, Apple? Unless the average age of podcasts listeners is 60, who do you expect to wax nostalgic about this? And why did you switch to a simulated interface, partially cover it up, and then STOP simulating that interface at about the half-way point on the screen? I don’t recall that any Studer or Revox or Teac had a little grey share button on it. Nor a snooze button, and definitely not a thin red scroll bar that not only doesn’t look like anything from a tape deck, it doesn’t look like any scroll bar ever seen on the Mac or iOS. And that’s followed by a row of extremely boring transport controls that also look nothing like physical controls or any previous iOS incarnations.

While trivial compared to the problems with Maps, it’s this one UI screen that makes me feel like something has gone horribly wrong at Apple. It makes me sad every time I have to interact with it.