I have been using iTunes 4.9 for the last day and find it a very nice looking product. The best feature is the iTunes Music Store which facilitates easy subscription management.
However, iTunes 4.9 does manage podcasts with the iPod Shuffle well. The way I have handled this in the past was to create a smart play list set to a podcast genre with a zero play count. With the Podcasts source, you either have to drag all the podcasts to the shuffle, or select only the unplayed podcasts by expanding each and every podcast and drag them individually to the shuffle. There may be a way around this by using the “Keep All unplayed episodes” option, but that is not obvious.
Another problem I’ve found is that my smart playlist did not initially show the podcasts I downloaded yesterday, but somehow, they mysteriously appeared this morning. Podcasts I downloaded today have not yet appeared in the smart list.
Also, what happens to played podcasts if you set the “Keep all unplayed” option set. Sometimes I would like to keep played episodes so I can listen again. What I have found is that podcasts that have been removed from the list no longer appear in the Podcast list.
The biggest problem is that the podcasts in the Podcast Library. If I can access them from a playlist or from the Main iTunes Library, I could better manage my podcasts. Unfortunately, they are not readily accessible from the main library unless some magic occurs and they suddenly appear, as noted above.
I congratulate Apple for a good first release. They have a ways to go, but we will have to best characterize how we use our podcasts and pass that on to the Apple iTunes developers.
For now, I’ll keep using iPodderX for most of my podcatching. I’ll also use iTunes 4.9 to better learn how it works.