People familiar with Apple’s plans tell me that when its new iOS 6 software becomes widely available this fall, podcasts will have their own app, where users will be able to discover, download and play them on mobile devices. Users who access iTunes via laptop and desktop machines will still find them in that version of iTunes, though.
If this is true, I'll be pretty ecstatic. When Apple touted iOS 5 as being PC-free, one thing they forgot to include is being able to subscribe to podcasts on the iPhone and be able to check for and download new episodes.
As it stands today, Podcasts still need the ability to sync with iTunes in order to be usable.
Hopefully Apple will make it easy to use iCloud to keep your subscription list, and allow a new Podcasts app to download new episodes in the background when plugged in to power and on Wi-Fi, in the same manner that it does iCloud backups and Newsstand updates.