So on Tuesday Apple released iTunes 4.9 with support for Podcasting built in. Up until now if you wanted to grab Podcasts you needed to use a client/tool like iPodderX or iPodder.

So what is Podcasting exactly and why is it cool? Wikipedia defines Podcasting as:

“Podcasting is a method of publishing files to the internet, often allowing users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription, usually at no cost. It first became popular in late 2004, used largely for audio files. Podcasting is distinct from other types of audio content delivery because many people use a subscription model which uses the RSS 2.0 file format. This technique has enabled independent producers to create self-published, syndicated “radio shows”, and has given broadcast radio programs a new distribution channel.”

So what makes it cool? Podcasting is essentially “Tivo for Radio” for lack of better way to describe it. If you miss one of your favorite radio shows, such as National Public Radio’s On the Media or ABC’s Nightline, you can download the program and catch up with it on your train ride to work or while at the gym.

Once you’ve downloaded iTunes the first thing you’ll notice is the Podcast option in the Source Column.

Clicking here will take you to the Podcast area which lists all the Podcasts you’ve subscribed to, along with their time, release date, and description.

Now how do I find Podcasts of interests? Well once you’ve clicked on the Podcast option in the Sources column you’ll see an option to go to the Podcast Directory in the lower left hand side. It looks like this:

Clicking here with take you to the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) Podcast section where you can search for, subscribe to, and download Podcasts. It will look like this:

For those people already familiar with the ITMS you’ll notice that the “Buy” button has been replaced with a “Subscribe” button. If you don’t want to use the ITMS option to locate and subscribe to Podcasts you can also use sites like Podcast Alley which has a huge Podcast Directory (over 4000 Podcasts).

Hopefully by now you’ve located and subscribed to a Podcast or two. The last thing you’ll need to do is to go the the Podcast Preferences section of iTunes and make your changes so that your Podcasts are always up to date.

Now that iTunes supports Podcasting natively one would expect for the quantity and quality of Podcasts to expand. Which is a very good thing.

One thing to note is that iTunes users who are using versions of iTunes older than 4.9 can still access the iTunes Music Store’s Podcasts page and browse for Podcasts. However, to download, subscribe, manage, or submit Podcasts, you will need to install iTunes 4.9.