Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Using Podcasts App With Voiceover


This content was presented at the CNIB Calgary iOS User Group meeting on 2016/04/12. It preceded a discussion of the Best Podcasts For Learning iOS With Voiceover. Furthermore, this is a summary of the Podcasts app demo that I gave while presenting the podcast resources. I also recommend that you read the user guide for your particular iDevice to learn more. For example, go to the first page of the Podcasts chapter in iPad User Guide for iOS 9 or the first page of the Podcasts chapter in iPhone User Guide for iOS 9. Though this chapter of the user guide was written for sighted users, it is still beneficial to read to give you an overview of the features.
The Podcasts app is pre-installed on your iDevice as of iOS 8. I used an iPad Air 2 for my demo that was running iOS 9.3. The iPhone Podcasts app interface has a few differences but you’ll find the same set of features. The gestures referenced in this article are VoiceOver (VO) gestures.
The dictionary definition of podcast is "a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically." However, you’ll find that within podcast software, the series is typically referred to as a podcast while the individual recordings are called podcast episodes.
Note: Choose an iDevice with enough storage if want to download a lot of podcasts, and tend to keep them for a while before listening and deleting.

Podcasts App Overview

The bottom tabs / buttons allow you to navigate to: Unplayed, My Podcasts, Featured, Top Charts, Search.

How to Find a New Podcast

  • To search for a podcast: select Featured (or Top Charts / Top Authors), type search terms into Search field (upper right)
  • select Podcasts button to limit search results to podcasts (Podcast Episodes otherwise appear first and are time consuming to navigate through)
  • select podcast from search results, select Subscribe button
  • dismiss pop-up window on iPad with scrub gesture

How to Find a Subscribed Podcast

  • select My Podcasts button
  • flick through podcasts list
  • double-tap to select (displays episodes on right-hand side on iPad, opens episode list screen on iPhone)

Podcast Episodes Navigation

  • select filter: Unplayed, Feed (all), Saved (only if you have saved an episode)
  • flick through vertical list of episodes
  • Tip: If the show notes contain HTML code, VO will read it in the episode list. To avoid this, select View Full Description in More menu on right-hand side of Mini-player or Now Playing screen (see below).


  • Mini Player: above bottom toolbar; Rewind, Pause / Play, Fast-forward, episode and podcast title, Up Next, More
  • select episode and podcast title to open Now Playing screen
  • Now Playing screen: Dismiss, episode and podcast title, track position (swipe up/down to move a few minutes forward/back), speed, Rewind, Pause / Play, Fast-forward, Up Next, Sleep Timer, volume, Share, More
  • can use VO two-finger double-tap gesture to pause / play


  • set Download Episodes to Off (defaults to Only New)
  • set Delete Played Episodes to On (default)

Finding Episodes on a Topic in My Podcasts

  • Use Search My Podcasts search field at top of podcasts list
  • Search results don’t speak podcast name; get this info from mini-player while episode is playing
  • Playing podcast episode from search results does so within search results window; on iPad, use scrub gesture to dismiss; on iPhone, select Cancel button (upper right); navigate to mini player to access controls, podcast name and episode title, etc

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