The latest version of Apple's music jukebox and download application adds support for podcasting. Without iTunes 4.9, podcasts have to be downloaded through a suitable client, such as iPodder or iPodderX.
Now, iTunes and this internet phenomenon are one, completing a seemingly inevitable - and perfect - union.

Pod life

From the time you launch the version 4.9 update, you'll notice that this isn't your parents' iTunes. For a start, the application now features a Podcasts icon wedged between the Library and Radio icons in the lefthand-side Source pane.
Much like the Purchased Music section that houses all your downloads from the iTunes Music Store, the Podcasts area lists all the shows you've subscribed to, along with their time, release date, and description.

In this area you can adjust your podcast preferences, selecting how often you check for new episodes - every hour, every day, every week or manually - and which ones you want to download.

What do you want?

You can also set iTunes to download all episodes or just the most recent one, or to do nothing when new episodes are available. You can keep all unplayed episodes, just the most recent ones, a set number of them, or all of your podcasts.

There's also a button that allows you to dictate which episodes are copied to your MP3 player.

Bye buy

The directory of podcasts is accessible via the iTunes Music Store, although subscribing to podcasts is free. Apple has broken down its offerings into categories - everything from Arts & Entertainment to Travel. There are also podcast-specific categories such as Audio Blogs, Public Radio and Talk Radio. Clicking on one of these categories produces the three-pane view of Genre/Category/Subcategories that will be familiar to anyone who's spent any amount of time browsing other sections of the iTunes Music Store.

In addition to listing the podcast by name, it also shows the time, artist, album and genre followed by a subscribe button. Click on the arrow next to the album name, and you jump to a page showing all the podcasts from a particular artist.


It's worth noting that iTunes users who don't upgrade to version 4.9 can still access the Store's Podcasts page and browse for podcasts. However, to download, subscribe, manage or submit podcasts, you need to install iTunes 4.9. With this element added to an already free package, there's no way we could deny iTunes 4.9 a PC Advisor Gold award.