I believe the problem is that the convergence of iTunes + OSX + iOS + iCloud is still a work in progress, and there are gaps and these gaps cause seemingly unpredictable behavior.
The Mac, iOS devices, and Apple TVs all subscribe to Podcasts available in the iTunes Store.
Podcast content is downloaded to Macs when available, according to user configurations. There is no streaming to OSX Macs, it is download and play only. Podcasts are always streamed to the Apple TV Podcast app... there is no download capability. Subscribed podcasts can be streamed or downloaded to iOS devices, according to user configurations.
iCloud enables syncing between iOS devices. Check.
iTunes on the Mac enables syncing of iOS devices with Macs. Check.
There is no account-based syncing for multiple devices in the iTunes Store. Big problem. The primary key in somebody's database design is device-id when it should be account-id. I think this is the source of the issues we're describing in this thread, especially when time is considered as one of the syncing variables.
If I'm right, here are the symptoms we should be experiencing:
1. No podcast progress synchronization between different Macs, Apple TVs, or iOS devices. They are all managed as independent machine ids by the iTunes store.
2. iCloud will try to sync iOS devices, but the results are unpredictable because iCloud is independent of the iTunes store, as is iTunes on the Mac, all three of which may be trying to update the iOS devices, depending on user configuration.
3. The Mac will try to synchronize the iOS devices that are connected to it, but again, the results are unpredictable because there are too many disconnected updates happening. For example, if I watch some of a podcast on my Mac and sync the progress to my iPad, that could get over-written by the Podcast app on my iPad subsequently communicating with the iTunes store.
Any of this sound familiar?
The good news is, if I'm right and this is a work in progress, something really powerful is on the way. Once there is a single master of the ecosystem, Macs, Apple TVs, and iOS devices will all fall into place and 'just work'.
Until then, here are the workarounds I'm using:
1. If syncing between iOS devices is most important, turn on local app subscriptions and turn off podcast syncing with iTunes.
2. If syncing between Mac and iOS devices is more important, turn off local subscriptions and turn on syncing with Mac.
I hope this is useful and if anyone has any additional or contrary information, please post.
APPLE, WHERE ARE YOU IN THIS DISCUSSION?
I agree with WGQ's assessment that the issue is complicated gaps in syncing between iTunes, OS X, and iOS and that it's work in progress.
Another symptom of this I want to throw into the mix is that depending on when/where I turn on the Podcast app, it will refresh the list of available episodes and list seemingly random episodes. This happens when I sign on to the wifi at home or at work. It will list an episode from years ago or just a few recent ones or all episodes. And this is independent of whether I have previously listened to it or not.(I keep pressing "mark as played" in hopes that it won't keep repopulating old episodes, but it still does, even after I delete them from the list manually by swiping)
I also wonder if the all of this also changes depending on whether you are plugged in to the power source or not. I know that downloads only happen if you are connected to wifi and power plugged in, so perhaps that affects the Podcast app's behavior. Who knows.
I will trust that they are working to make this more seamless. Until then, I think WGQ's workaround would be worth a try, depending on your needs.
So, if i want to sync my Mac with my iOS devices....i can't utilize the syncing between iOS devices....correct?
That seems to be on of the primary benefits of the podcast app...bizarre that they didn't figure people would still have a computer as their primary device.
it seems designed for people who have an iPad and maybe an iPhone or iPod...
bradykp, I think you're missing the point. The current experience is not the 'design'. It is an incomplete implementation of the design. I think there is more coming, perhaps as soon as next week.
"...bizarre that they didn't figure people would still have a computer as their primary device."
I think people are moving away from having "a" computer as their primary device. I have three computers and I'd like to have my iOS devices interact seamlessly with all of them. The secret to that is iCloud, and I think Apple gets that.
No, I don't think I missed the point... Think Apple did. :-)
more may be coming, but I don't view it as more when it is what the app should be doing from day 1.
lmaybe primary device was the wrong word....how about 'home base' as in....the thing with the most amount of storage, by far, is where most people will store their stuff. iCloud will be nice, but I don't have much reason to pay for storage when I already have it, you know what I mean?
Bradykp - I'm looking for pretty much the same thing. I carry only a subset of my podcast subscriptions on my iPhone and use only the sync to my desktop. I have turned off the podcast subscription on my iPhone becasue that was causing downloads of random old episodes. I would like to have the played/unplayed status match up after a sync. Is that too much to ask for?
I had podcasts that iTunes showed as synced, but some were not showing up on my iPhone 4s no matter what I did. Then when I tried to clear them in iTunes, the podcast app said the remaining were still there and I had to manually delete them on the phone. In other words, it wouldn't sync correctly either way. I got my podcasts to sync right after I deleted the podcast app from my phone and then reinstalled it. A great big double fisted salute to you, podcast app!
I'm surely not alone in being dependant on a primary computer for podcasts because I want to keep a digital copy of my podcasts in case they're not available at a later date. With the lack of advanced features and useless iCloud integration, this makes for a poor app. You're right though, the secret to making this app better will be iCloud but we'll wait and see if they deliver.
OK I'm not sure if I'm seeing something different in syncing than everyone else. This happened both with my Iphone 4s and now my Iphone 5. I uninstalled podcasts on my 4s because it was such a headache. (nice features, but the syncing didn't work right). But I thought maybe it'd be better with everything updated and I couldn't get 'new episodes' while on the road without it. So I tried the other night with my Iphone 5 again.
Well, the same thing happens. It cannot keep track of titles, descriptions, files... sometimes two different files will play the exact same audio. The description will be a title for an episode that occurs on a different day, and it will play a file from an entirely different day. With the previous problem when it first came out it would also suddenly stop playing files and advance on to the next one, before the file was done playing.
I haven't listened long enough on the new Iphone 5 to see if it does that.
What you are saying is what I expect. However, despite the supposed miracle of iCloud, my iPhone keeps downloading already listened to podcasts that I've deleted on iPhone, or my Mac. I almost never listen to them on my iPad. However, the promise was auto synching so I can listen on one device, stop and go to the other and pickup where I left off. If where I left off was having completely listened to a podcast, then according to my settings in iTunes, the podcast should be deleted, but no. They keep coming back.
Another issue: Siri also can't seem to realize I've already listened to a podcast and always starts with the oldest one, usually one I've listened to instead of most recent.
I have no idea why Apple made the change to a separate App for Podcasts. It complicates things because now you have to tell Siri: "Play podcast MSNBC Hardball" to get the podcast or "Play playlist classical guitar shuffled". Before the update all you had to do was say, "Play classical guitar."
Just downloaded Podcasts update 1.1.2 and it appears a lot of the sync issues have been resolved by Apple.
This is good, however it has taken way, way too long to fix. Apple expects a lot from third party developers who are forced to spend a lot of time and money chasing IOS overhauls to keep their apps current, but seriously fails when it comes to their own in-house app house cleaning.
Unfortunately, Apple employees apparently are not encouraged by their company to visit this forum as I have read time-and-time again here, so it all falls on deaf ears. Maybe when a couple more execs get bounced out the door, they will put down the hacky-sacks and step away from the foosball table and get back to work.
Given how many views this forum is getting people are having huge problems. The iOS update didn't do anything for this problem. The way the Podcast program is supposed to work is that if you do something on your iPhone, it is supposed to synch with MAC and iPad and ditto in all other directions. It doesn't happen. I dleted several already viewed podcasts only to find them back on my phone within the hour. I had listened/watched a podcast on my iphone and when I synched my phone directly with iTunes, iTunes spent a couple of minutes putting it on my phone even though it was already there and listened to.