No single company is still talked about more when it comes to podcasting than Apple. Since its addition of podcasting to the iTunes Store in 2005, most of the podcasting news made by Apple has revolved around podcasting apps and distribution. But that changes this month as Apple will actually be an active sponsor of an upcoming podcast produced by New York-based Gimlet Media.
Gimlet made a name for itself during the so-called “podcast renaissance” of 2014 with the launch of its critically acclaimed Startup podcast that documented the company’s founding. Gimlet followed up the success of Startup with other popular shows like Reply All and Undone. Gimlet Media is now set to debut its latest creation, a fully scripted serialized fiction series called Homecoming. This new show will be voiced by established Hollywood actors Catherine Keener (40 Year-Old Virgin, Into The Wild), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and David Schwimmer (Friends, Orange Is The New Black).
Gimlet Media has a proven track record of attracting large audiences to its productions. That past performance may be what enticed Apple to step in as the sole sponsor for Homecoming. Specifically, Apple will be promoting its e-book and periodicals platform iBooks thru this new podcast. The move could be a sign of Apple’s confidence in Gimlet’s latest project, as the tech giant hasn’t sponsored many (if any) podcasts before.
Apple’s move from passive podcast distributor to active podcast sponsor seems like a logical one. While many podcast consumers are likely already using an Apple device, they may still be unaware of what iBooks has to offer. It’ll be easy enough for those listeners to tap over to the iBooks app after an episode of Homecoming and pick up a new book or magazine subscription. The potential popularity of a Gimlet-produced podcast will also get Apple’s sponsored message in front of plenty of non-Apple users as well, since podcasts are consumed across many different platforms.
Apple has probably empowered the medium of podcasting more than any other company. The Cupertino-based technology giant gave podcasting its first big boost when it added podcasts to the iTunes desktop application in 2005. Thanks to the popularity of Apple’s breakthrough portable media player, the iPod, iTunes had become a ubiquitous destination for consumers looking to easily acquire new audio. And when those users suddenly found a podcasting directory chock full of free content next to their favorite music store, they began consuming podcasts in droves.
Apple gave another healthy push to podcasting when it released the first iteration of its standalone Podcasts app in 2012. The app was ultimately developed to work alongside what would become Apple’s streaming music service (Apple Music). But there was some definite confusion when the app first showed up. Previously, users had been able to access podcasts thru their iOS devices’ iPod and Music apps. Apple would go on to include the new Podcasts app in its “core” collection of apps that couldn’t be deleted by users. This meant that iOS users had to deal with the app, if for no other reason than to stick it into an “unused apps” folder. And while it’s certain that many users did just that, many others opened the app and began listening to podcasts for the first time.
Apple’s Podcasts app is still a standard part of iOS. It shows up any time the operating system is freshly installed. But a big change came to the app with last month’s release of iOS 10. The app is no longer indestructible, and can now be removed by simply pressing and holding the app icon, and then tapping the X that pops up in the top left portion of the icon.
The change was likely made due to consumer demand, as many iOS users have wanted to be able to remove Apple’s core apps for years. It’s doubtful the app’s removable status will have any impact on podcast consumption overall. But it is kinda sad in a way that the app can be deleted now.
Ever since it rolled out the first Macintosh computer over 30 years ago, Apple has been on a mission to make products that are smaller, sleeker, and minimized. That ethos has played out over and over again thru the years. The first iMacs had no floppy disk drives. Then, Apple stopped installing optical drives into its desktop and laptop machines. Now, in the modern age of the iDevice, this practice is repeated with Apple designing phones and tablets that are increasingly thinner and lighter. It was pretty obvious this trend wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. And while it seemed Apple couldn’t possibly make these devices any smaller, they still found a way.
Rumors began circulating earlier this year that the iPhone 7, the latest edition of Apple’s wildly popular smartphone, would ship without an analog headphone jack. And those rumors were confirmed today during an Apple event that announced the iPhone 7. Apple’s Phil Schiller made his case for a bold, wireless future by rolling out a quaint image of an old-timey switchboard operator that was meant to enforce the analog headphone port’s origins in old technology. Indeed, Apple is all about the future. The bright, shiny (and most importantly), wireless future.
Thanks to a proliferation of audio/video apps and accessories for iOS, these devices have become invaluable tools for many podcast producers. And while the death of the headphone port may be discouraging, it’s not the absolute end of the world. Apple will provide an analog adapter that’ll plug into the Lightning connector, allowing users to connect headphones and other analog-driven devices. It’s also a good bet that a whole new line of third-party products will hit the market to service those who’ve been abandoned by the headphone port’s disappearance.
Of course, another alternative would be to just hang onto older devices instead of trading them in right away for the iPhone 7. But just like that telephone operator, I know this is also a quaint notion for most modern technology users.
About a year ago, I suggested that it was time for the iTunes team to create a dedicated user portal for podcasters. Perhaps someone over at Apple is listening. Last week, podcasters looking to add new shows to the iTunes Store noticed that the “Submit a Podcast” option that’s been available in the iTunes desktop application since Apple first added podcasts to the platform, was gone. A few days later, the option returned. Instead of opening a submission form inside the iTunes application as it has always done, clicking the “Submit a Podcast” link now opens a web browser that directs to the new iTunes Connect page.
iTunes Connect prompts you to log in with an Apple ID and password. Once logged in, the site provides an iTunes Connect: My Podcast page that shows a list of all of the podcasts you’ve submitted to iTunes using your Apple ID. You should see any active shows under your account and you may see old shows that (for whatever reason) have been removed from the iTunes Store. Click on the album art for any of the shows and you’re taken to a new page that presents a short list of options: Refresh Feed, View in iTunes Store, Hide Podcast, and Delete Podcast. There’s also a field for the podcast’s feed URL (in the screenshot below, I’ve blanked the field – you’d normally see the current feed URL of the show in this field) along with the show’s status in the directory as well as the date/time of the listing’s last refresh. (Altering the text in the URL field activates a Save button on the right-hand side of the screen. Presumably, you could use this to update a podcast’s feed URL in the iTunes system.)
Apple brought this new podcast dashboard online with little fanfare. It’s possible they’ve done this to cut down on some of the frequent support requests they receive (refreshing feeds, changing feed URL’s, etc.). This web-based system also makes it possible to submit podcasts using devices other than Mac or Windows computers. It’s the logical next step for what is still podcasting’s biggest directory to give a little more access and control to those of us who are providing its content. It’s a long overdue change.
It seemed like a curious omission that when the new Apple TV launched to much fanfare during the final quarter of last year, it didn’t come preloaded with Apple’s ubiquitous Podcasts app. The Podcasts app had been standard issue on iOS devices as well as previous iterations of Apple’s set-top box for some time. But still, it was absent from the newly redesigned Apple TV.
And now, several months after the new Apple TV made its way into the hands of consumers, the device is finally getting an official Podcasts app from Apple. Earlier today, it was revealed that with the release of tvOS 9.1.1. (the special operating system for Apple TV’s), the Podcasts app will now be available to 4th-generation models of the media player.
If your Apple TV hasn’t already updated to the latest tvOS, you can force the update manually using the Settings app. Once the update is applied, the new Podcasts app will automatically show up on your home screen. Following suit with other Apple devices, the Podcasts app is a permanent fixture once it’s installed on the new Apple TV. It can’t be deleted.
The new version of the Apple TV set-top box from Apple, was greeted with much excitement from new media producers. This new iteration is the first version of the device to come with a built-in app store, making it easier for third-party developers to add their own content to the platform. Podcast and music distribution service Mixcloud recently announced the release of its own Apple TV app, which could make Mixcloud the first podcast app on Apple TV.
Users were surprised to discover Apple’s nearly ubiquitous Podcasts app missing from the new Apple TV. Podcasts has become a standard-issue app on most of Apple’s mobile devices, as well as previous versions of Apple TV. It seems likely that Podcasts will eventually make its way to the new Apple TV. Until then, users will have to rely on third-party apps or other workarounds to consume podcasts on the device.
Mixcloud describes its app as:
Enjoy your favourite shows, Podcasts and DJ mixes directly from the comfort of your living room.
From Science and Education to Technology and Food, access thousands of Podcasts directly from your TV using the Mixcloud app.
Access the best audio online via shows, reposts, favorites and playlists on any host’s profile page, all tailored to fit the Apple TV with a sleek custom design.
There are millions of hours of audio on Mixcloud, now you can search and find something to suit any occasion from the comfort of your couch.
The Mixcloud app is available as a free download from the App Store.
This week, Apple unleashed iOS 9, the latest version of the operating system that runs all of the company’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, onto the general public. After applying the latest iOS update and rebooting their devices, many users came to find that Podcasts, Apple’s proprietary podcast app for iOS, was no longer working.
A thread started by user jplang56 on the Apple Support Communities forum about this problem has racked up 58 replies so far. Most of the responses are from other iOS users expressing their own frustrations with the now-broken Podcasts app.
I’ve tried the app on my iPhone 6 Plus as well as my iPad Mini Retina and it worked fine for me on both devices. But I don’t use Podcasts as my main podcast consumption app, so I don’t have very large podcast libraries inside the Podcasts app. Being subscribed to a lot of different shows may be a factor in this issue, as many users are reporting that they’re receiving an “Updating Library” message just before the app shuts down.
No one from Apple has yet to chime in on this problem. If you’ve been affected, try some of the solutions users have posted in the support thread linked above. Presumably, Apple will address this issue with the next iOS update.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Podcasts app, I highly recommend Downcast. I’ve used it for a couple years on iOS and my iMac and it’s been a good experience so far. Downcast has also survived the transition to iOS 9 with no known issues.
An apparent glitch in the iTunes Store is causing only the most recent 20 episodes of all podcast feeds to be displayed within the iTunes desktop application.
The bug appears to be limited to the iTunes desktop application only as both iTunes web listings and the iOS Podcasts app don’t appear to be affected. Also, this bug should have no impact on users who are already subscribed to a show’s RSS feed thru iTunes.
There’s been no official word yet from Apple as to why this is happening. Some have speculated that it’s due to backend work the company is doing on the iTunes Store in order to prepare for the launch of Apple Music. Regardless, if you’re a podcaster – don’t panic! All indications at this time show that this is only a temporary problem and it will be corrected soon.
We’ll keep this blog post updated with new developments as they come in.
Digital media platforms are all about one thing: content. Apple has known this for years, and that’s why the company has expanded its iTunes Store to include much more than just music. And while Apple was a trailblazer in its adoption of podcasting, other players have followed suit over the years. Now, it looks like Swedish music streamer Spotify is poised to add podcasts to its own platform.
According to Bloomberg Business, Spotify has held some talks with potential content partners that would bring podcasts to its streaming music player. It’s not yet known who these potential partners may be, or if the Spotify platform will be as open as the iTunes Store in terms of accepting podcast submissions.
The article notes that Spotify is already streaming some content similar in nature to podcasts:
Spotify, which hosts some podcast-like audio such as Spanish lessons along with millions of songs, plans to add more non-music programming, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. While the discussions have occurred for several months, there is no firm plan or introduction date, one of the people said.
One problem that all music streaming services face is the high cost of licensing songs from major labels. Since podcasts are ostensibly free, Spotify adding them to its platform would be an easy way to bolster its catalog with a diverse array of content without having to cut big royalty checks to producers. Podcasting within Spotify may even include video, allowing users to switch between audio and video on the fly.
This news follows other recent moves by Spotify competitors. Last year, Apple acquired Swell, a spoken word-focused audio streaming app, and Deezer bought out Stitcher. It’s still unclear as to why the bigger companies in both those deals even made these moves. But in the end, it all comes down to the content. Everyone’s looking for more of it or at least, different ways to curate and distribute it.