As widely expected, Apple has today released iTunes 4.9 for Mac and Windows, the first version of the popular music management software to include built-in support for downloading of podcasts.
As described by the company, “With iTunes 4.9, you can now browse and subscribe to podcasts from within the iTunes Music Store. Podcasts are frequently updated radio-style shows downloadable over the Internet. You can also transfer podcasts to iPod, for listening on the go.”
Apple has also launched a “Publish Podcasts to the Music Store” information page for submitting your own podcast RSS feed for consideration.
Update: Apple has now officially announced the new version of iTunes, saying it is “taking Podcasting mainstream” by offering “everything users need to discover, subscribe, manage and listen to Podcasts.”
The company said the new Podcast Directory in iTunes 4.9 features over 3,000 free audio programs, with content from ABC News, Adam Curry, BBC, Clear Channel, The Dawn and Drew Show, Disney, Engadget, ESPN, Newsweek and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston.