One of the primary functions of my Windows Phone device is (or was) listening to podcasts. Whilst people in the US have the best functionality for podcasts on both Windows Phone 7.5 and later and 8, those of us not in the US have not been so lucky.
I recently purchased an HTC 8x, which was a lovely device, but for some purposes was a step backwards from Windows Phone 7.5. Application support was reduced – so although there was new functionality and will be a new wave of apps, some apps that were previously on Windows Phone 7 were now not available. A key one for me was Spotify, which was not available. Yes Xbox music is pretty good and in some cases better, but I also happen to have a Sonos system (and incidentally Sonos have never bothered to support any Windows Phone version), so I need a Spotify subscription, but couldn’t use that on the 8x.
I then found out that something I had been taking for granted on my old HTC Mozart – subscribing to podcasts so that they download over the air was no longer available on Windows Phone 8. In the US podcasts are available in the Windows Phone store, so can just be added directly on the device. Outside of the US (and that is the Rest of the World, Microsoft) there is no podcast support in the store, but it was possible to subscribe to a podcast on WP7 by using Zune to sync a podcast to the device, and once setup you could then subscribe on the device itself and new episodes would be downloaded. That was a pretty good solution for us second class rest of worlders.
I got fed up with the 8x and returned it for a few reasons – missing apps, too big, no podcasts, and random reboots being some of them. Having seen details of Windows Phone 7.8 leak out, I decided to go for the old Lumia 800. This is a nice phone, 7.8 has some nice features, I’ll still be able to use my apps and podcasts, and save some money into the process. I had assumed that the reason we couldn’t sync over the air on WP8 was because WP8 doesn’t use the Zune client any more, so you cannot sync podcasts over to the device using that and then setup on the device. I was wrong.
It turns out that the ability to download podcasts over the air has actually been missing/broken since the Tango update. If you had podcasts setup to download prior to upgrading to Tango, those will still work. But on any Tango device you cannot subscribe to new podcasts. So it seems Microsoft simply carried over that (lack of) functionality to Windows Phone 8. Why they would remove a feature permanently from thousands of devices is a complete mystery to me.
EDIT – I since read that this was in fact a bug fix. You weren’t supposed to be able to subscribe to podcasts outside of the US in Mango, that was a bug. So luckily Microsoft fixed it, so we couldn’t do that any more, which was nice of them.
For now, we can only hope that this is fixed in both 7.8 and 8.x with future updates, but I am not holding my breath.
Fix this completely broken podcast for support for Windows 7 and 8 please Microsoft.