Apple’s announcement this week at the end of the Worldwide Developer Conference is some of the biggest podcasting news to happen in years. That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate an entire episode to it.
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Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is wrapping up this weekend in California. While Apple made plenty of announcements during WWDC, the tech giant may have truly left the best for last (at least, if you’re a podcaster).
Today, Apple announced major changes to its podcast spec. The first such spec changes the company has made in years. Apple also announced that it will finally be providing at least some listener data to podcast producers.
Acknowledging recent trends in the podcasting space, Apple will now provide support for seasons, preview episodes, and bonus episodes within its podcast RSS feed spec. That means it’ll be easier for podcasters to organize episodes by season, so listeners can download and listen back to episodes in the correct order. The preview and bonus episode options will make it easier for podcasters and listeners alike to identify episodes that might not be part of a podcast’s regular production cycle.
There’s been a lot of industry pressure as of late on Apple to provide listener data to podcasters. Acquiescing to these demands, Apple will begin providing some actual listener data to podcast producers:
Apple said today that it will be using (anonymized) data from the app to show podcasters how many people are listening and where in the app people are stopping or skipping. This has the potential to dramatically change our perception of how many people really listen to a show, and how many people skip ads, as well as how long a podcast can run before people just give up.
While this might look like the holy grail to some in terms of listener metrics, it appears that this data will be limited to listener activity from the iOS Podcasts app only. Not the cross-platform iTunes desktop application. And of course, it won’t pull in data from any services outside of the Apple ecosphere.
It’s not yet clear when Apple will allow podcasters to access listener data. The full implementation of the new Apple Podcasts RSS spec will likely coincide with the release of iOS 11 later this year. If you’d like to see what the new RSS tags will look like, Apple has released a document that covers the changes it’ll be making to the spec.
Ever since Apple launched the iOS Podcasts app, effectively giving podcasts a dedicated location on Apple mobile devices, speculation has occurred that one day, Apple will break podcasts free from the desktop iTunes application in a similar manner. While that hasn’t happened yet, having a dedicated desktop podcast-consumption app made by Apple may be getting closer.
Today, Apple rebranded the iTunes podcast directory to Apple Podcasts:
Although today’s announcement is merely a branding change, it may indicate a renewed focus by Apple on podcasting…
In February, Eddy Cue teased that the company is working on new features for podcasts at the Code Media conference. Combined with this rebranding, it is possible that Apple is readying a big announcement for later this year, potentially at WWDC.
Renaming the iTunes podcast directory to Apple Podcasts falls in line with other Apple branding efforts, such as Apple Music and Apple TV. It’s possible that the Cupertino-based tech giant is finding the “i” designation that rose to fame with products like the iMac, iPod, and iTunes is in need of a refresh. Regardless, it’s good to see some real attention being paid to Apple’s podcast directory.
Along with this new name, Apple also released new guidelines for publishers who’d like to link to their listings on the Apple Podcasts directory. These guidelines include a new set of badges that make use of the Apple Podcasts name in place of iTunes (see image above).