Podcast Downloading Confirmed in iPhone Firmware 2.2

We reported earlier on some of the upcoming features of the iPhone 2.2 firmware, currently in beta release. One feature mentioned at TUAW was the inclusion of podcast support, which explains the rejection of the third-party Podcaster app based on duplication of functionality, although it was duplication of future, rather than existing features.

At the time, the “Get More Episodes…” link seen in the screenshot posted at TUAW didn’t actually do anything, but indicated the future inclusion of direct downloading to the iPhone/iPod touch. Today, German site Flo’s Weblog has posted a new series of screenshots from the latest build that show the download option in the podcast menu is now live and functional. Note that no new build has been released, Apple has simply activated the download option in the existing software. The screenshots show that downloading over a 3G cellular connection is possible, although size limits of 10MB exist, matching the App Store caps.

Judging from the screens, Apple includes support for both audio and video podcast downloading, and seems to be an add-on to the existing iTunes application, as indicated by the bottom menu bar. There is no indication in the screenshots that podcast subscription is possible in the new firmware, or that users can sync their existing subscriptions and downloaded podcasts from their iTunes library. There are however no screens of the updated iPod menu and interface, which is likely where downloaded content would be accessible, so subscription and syncing support should by no means be ruled out.

Also shown off are the new category badges for the App Store, which feature select application icons from software available within that category. It’s unclear whether these will be random, rotating, or advertising spots available from Apple for a fee to developers wanting to promote their apps.

Is podcast support important to you? Does Apple’s inclusion of this feature excuse their rejection of Podcaster from the App Store?