As expected, Podcasts has received a significant update today. The update brings about substantial optimization measures to Apple’s otherwise bug-laden podcasting app.

Designed for both iPhone and iPad, Podcasts is a standalone podcasting app that was spun off by Apple from its Music and iTunes apps. Its release was heralded in mid-June by the absence of a podcasts section in the first iOS 6 beta’s iTunes app. Then, in late June, Podcasts was launched.

Apple’s acknowledgement of podcasts as a medium worthy of its own app is long overdue yet nonetheless laudable. But apart from its conspicuous skeuomorphism, the app has been met with less than laudatory ratings in the App Store. Crashes and syncing issues are among the various problems frequently cited by users of the app.

This afternoon, it was reported that a much-needed performance-enhancing update to Podcasts was due for release today. Apple has made good on this promise by issuing the following welcome changes to the app just a few hours ago:

  • Significant improvements to performance and stability
  • Podcasts in your library now show the number of unplayed episodes
  • Top Stations now show the podcast title if artwork is missing
  • Playback speed is now remembered when playing the next episode
  • Fix for a problem where the Subscribe button is inactive
  • Resolution of an issue where Top Stations artwork may not appear

You can update to or download the latest version of Podcasts now in the App Store for free. Meanwhile, let me go ahead and take it for a spin, skeuomorphs and all.