Apple has updated this week the web interface for Podcasts to make it clearer, more agile and easier to navigate. Users can now also play episodes directly from the website, which is a huge and appreciated change to force people to load iTunes to listen.
Episodes now also have their own home page, which provides notes to the show and another listening opportunity. The web interface still offers users the ability to move to iTunes, what they will want to do to read reviews or access trending charts, but in general, the update makes the rumors that Apple is likely to be deleted iTunes . Episode links use a URL podcasts.apple.com instead of itunes.apple.com, further reinforcing rumors of iTunes.
Using iTunes to access podcasts is currently an unpleasant experience and feels obsolete, and both Guilherme Rambo at 9to5Mac and Steve Troughton-Smith report that Apple plans to split iTunes into Separate applications of Music, TV and Podcasts in the next version of macOS. Reportedly, the new applications would be applications of Marzipan, like Apple News on the Mac, and it is possible that Books also get an update in addition to Music, TV and Podcasts. Apart from that, the iTunes brand does not align with Apple Podcasts on iOS, which is the way that most people listen to programs. Breaking podcasts as your own Mac application would make sense and keep your brand united under one name. Also, it's just a more pleasant experience to avoid iTunes altogether.