As previously predicted, Apple has just released its standalone Podcasts app.

Here’s the app description:

Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature.

Features:
• Enjoy all of your audio and video podcasts in a single app

• Explore hundreds of thousands of podcasts including shows in over 40 languages

• Try the innovative new Top Stations feature to find new podcast series in a variety of topics, including arts, business, comedy, music, news, sports, and more.

• Browse by Audio or Video podcasts, or see what’s most popular in Top Charts

• Tap subscribe for your favorites and automatically receive new episodes for free as they become available

• Stream episodes or download to listen while offline• Skip forward and back using simple playback controls

• Turn on Sleep Timer to automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed

• Share your favorite episodes with friends using Twitter, Messages and Mail

• Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC

• Sync your episode playback for seamless transition between devices

The universal app for both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad requires a device with iOS 5.1 or later. It can be downloaded free in the App Store now.

Originally reported on a few weeks ago, the app wasn’t expected to hit until sometime this fall, but Apple apparently had other plans. After downloading Podcasts and playing around with it for a few minutes, I’m not exactly all that impressed. I’ve never been a huge podcast listener, but I didn’t see anything to put Apple’s app above AppAdvice staff favorites Downcast and Instacast (except for the free price).