With the new photocasting capability of the just announced iPhoto update from Apple, which uses RSS as a medium for photo subscriptions, Apple has turned a corner, and so has RSS. I think the day of the monolithic aggregator may be coming to an end. The direction is now toward contextual RSS: feeds of information showing up in applications where they make the most sense. There is no question that iTunes provides a superior experience for subscribing to podcasts–with clear, built-in controls for managing playback and machinery in the form of smart playlists for organizing content.
The other side: Apple is now clearly committed to using RSS as a sharing technology across the Internet, and providing innovative new user experiences for RSS usage. Today’s announcement is in some ways a bigger deal than the iTunes podcasting support. There Apple was hopping on a phenomenon that someone else had created. Today it’s using RSS and the podcasting phenomenon to enrich the sharing experience for its customers.
There’s just one sour note–the out-of-box ability to publish an RSS feed of your own photos from iPhoto requires a paid .Mac subscription. But the same has always been true for the out-of-box ability to publish your own photos to the Web, and it hasn’t stopped innovative developers from creating plugins to allow publishing to arbitrary destinations. And the content that gets published to .Mac is just plain RSS. While I’ll be interested to see what extensions got plopped on this time, this is still really positive.
Update: Even more positive, since you can use iMovie to create video podcasts.