Dear Mr. Jobs,
I purchased an iPod Touch over a year ago and have been very happy with it. Last January and February I started to listen to several podcasts while traveling by train from DC to NYC to visit my father in the hospital. The iPod touch was a great device for these trips because I could watch video, check my e-mail and read news while in NYC (the hospital had WiFi). But one glaring shortcoming was that once I listened/viewed the podcasts I could not get more. The iPod was synched to my home desktop.
One obvious issue with the iPod touch was that I had to find a WiFi network to take advantage of it’s full capabilities. This drove me to wait 6 hours on line last July and purchase an iPhone 3G. I appreciated the applications, did not appreciate the lack of trials and have overall been very happy. But again I was very disappointed that podcast subscriptions could not be updated wirelessly. Therefore I was excited when word came out that v2.2 of the software would have this capability. Today I saw the new release was available, quickly updated my phone and … WAS SERIOUSLY DISAPPOINTED!
The functionality added does not update subscriptions but only extends the sales abilities of iTunes to Podcasts. Sure Apple added a link in the iPod application to send you to the podcast’s page in iTunes but that’s not what customers want. Drawing on my expertise in defining product requirements I decided to write up how Apple can fix this feature.
Customer Requirement 1: Support updating of any podcast currently synched with the iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod Touch without a physical connection to the synced iTunes computer. This includes connections over WiFi or cellular networks.
Customer Requirement 2: Sync information about downloaded podcast episodes back to the customer’s iTunes software on the next connection.
Technical Requirement 1: Pass a file with information about all customer’s podcast subscriptions between their iTunes software and their iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod Touch. A podcast shall be included in the list even if no episodes are currently on the iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod Touch. This file shall include at least
a. The podcast subscription information. Either iTunes
link or the RSS address
b. A list of all possible episodes for that podcast
c. An indication of which episodes are unplayed
Technical Requirement 2: Add an update button to the Podcast screen of the iPod Application. When pressed the application shall check each feed to see if new episodes have been added since the last sync or update. If a new episode exists, the file shall be downloaded to the iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod Touch and the podcast list updated.
Technical Requirement 3: When next synching with the customer’s iTunes software the podcast listing will be updated to reflect new episodes that were downloaded or played.
I left out the limitation on download size over cellular networks since Apple already has that covered. If Apple can implement these simple requirements they will finally reach parity with competitive products such as Zune or Windows Mobile. Wireless updating of podcast subscriptions has been a reality with these products for years.
I look forward to release 2.3 when wireless updating of podcast subscriptions becomes a reality.
Managing Partner | Round Top Advisors, LLC
Product Expertise For The Wireless World