When Apple pulled support for podcasts from the stock iTunes app, there was much speculation that a new app for playing podcasts would be coming in iOS 6.

Today the new app got a quiet release, months ahead of iOS 6.

After installing Apple’s new podcast app, it is no wonder that they chose to launch it with very little fanfare.

That’s because, well, that’s exactly what it deserves, very little recognition, and to be completely frank, this app is JUNK! Not only is it slow (switching between audio and video podcasts makes you feel like your phone froze), but it is virtually featureless and not at all what the company responsible for coining the term “podcast” should be putting out there as their branded ‘podcasts player’.

Only a few steps above just a play/pause button, the app, named Podcasts, has a bare bones feature list. Highlights (if you can really call them that) include the ability to subscribe to podcasts, stream or download episodes, there is also a 10 second replay button and a 30 second skip forward button. Oh, and I almost forgot, for audio podcasts you also have the ability to choose from three playback speeds, “normal, slow or fast”. There is no 1.5x, 2x, 3x etc, just ‘turtle’ or ‘rabbit’. And these options aren’t even immediately apparent, you have to channel your inner Shawn Spencer to figure out that you can swipe up on the podcast’s avatar icon during playback to reveal these controls and see the timeline of the current podcast. Video podcasts offer more choices of playback speed and controls which are much more intuitive.

There is no support for playlists, (that I could find) nor do users have the ability to manually add podcasts directly via URL. Sure, I’m pretty certain you could add these podcasts to the app by syncing to a computer with iTunes, but isn’t this supposed to be the “Post-PC” era? Give me everything I need right on my device, don’t make me interface with your buggy release of iTunes for Windows.

A third-party podcast app killer, this is not!

I have been a very happy Downcast user for almost a year now and that will not be changing. Apple’s Podcasts app doesn’t even come close to offering the breadth and scale of features and user experience that this app does. Downcast has boatloads of features like playlists, direct access URLs, per-podcast episode retention settings and swipe gestures (to keep your eyes on the road), just to name a few.

Apple’s Podcasts app just feels like a perfunctory effort that will leave iDevice owners wishing that they had just left well-enough alone.

Do yourself a favor, if you downloaded the Podcasts app, DELETE IT and if you don’t already own Downcast…BUY IT.

In this case the old adage that you get what you pay for is certainly true. Skip Apple’s FREE app and the $1.99 you’ll spend for Downcast will be money well-spent!