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No longer buried under menus in the Music app, Apple(s AAPL) has created a standalone place to keep your podcasts: In an iOS app called, you guessed it, Podcasts. It’s free and is available now.
In addition to all of its previous features as part of the Music app, the new Podcasts has its own top podcasts charts, a sleep timer to turn off a podcast if listening in bed, share sheets for Twitter, iMessage and Mail (perhaps Facebook(s FB) sharing is coming to the app in iOS 6?), and a Top Stations section to allow better discovery of podcasts by topic, not just by publisher or title.
Podcasts was quietly released Tuesday sans press release, but for heavy mobile podcast listeners, this is important. Apple’s done a decent job in its mobile software of avoiding the problem that plagues desktop iTunes, where books, music, videos, apps and more are all packed into a single app. With iOS, Music, Videos, iBooks and Apps are each individually broken out from the iTunes App. But podcasts were still buried.
That changes now. And it’s a good sign for users that Apple is helping them to more easily find and surface stuff they like a lot easier — something Apple still needs to work on within its App Store. But it’s of course not-so-good news for existing apps on the App Store that were already catering to this need.