Apple Podcast Announcement Wrap-up – PCN Show 043

PCN iTunes artworkApple’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.



iTunes Will Soon Be Available in the Windows Store

Windows Store logoMicrosoft’s new “streamlined” operating system, Windows 10 S, is being touted as the company’s attempt to compete more directly with Google’s Chromebook and Apple’s MacBook computers. Windows 10 S is aimed at the education market, and to a lesser extent, large businesses who are looking to minimize some of the headaches that can occur when users are allowed access to a full-featured operating system like the standard version of Windows 10.

The one thing that really makes Windows 10 S stand out from its predecessors is that the operating system will only allow applications to be installed from within the Windows Store. Taking a cue from other OS developers, Microsoft will fully vet all applications that are aded to the Windows Store, in the hopes that this will minimize operational problems like viruses and malware. Having this level of control will make it easier for hardware suppliers to sell and deploy computers at an institutional level.

And while the vetting process that comes with the Windows Store is likely to be a welcome change for system administrators, it may leave some individual users in the cold. Especially those who’ve been relying on the Windows version of Apple’s iTunes to consume media like music and podcasts. Fortunately, it was recently announced that Apple is working with Microsoft to bring iTunes to the Windows Store.

That means iTunes podcasts should be available on all modern versions of Windows for some time to come. Now that this has been taken care of, can Apple get to work on porting its Podcasts app to Android? It’s seriously overdue.

iTunes Podcasts Becomes Apple Podcasts

Apple Podcasts logoEver 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).

iTunes Featured Podcasts for Black History Month

February is Black History Month. This year, iTunes chose to put together a list of podcast, books, TV, and more to “shine a light on current and historical leaders”. The selection is called The Black Experience. The list is a good place to find a podcast to listen to that is new to you.

Here is a quick look at some of the podcasts that iTunes featured:

Intersection is hosted by New Republic editor Jamil Smith. In his podcast, he explores how race, gender, and all the ways we identify ourselves and one another intersect.

Errthang Show! is hosted by Al Letson In his latest project, he takes all the things that are floating in his head and turns it into a mixtape of delight for you.

Another Round is from BuzzFeed. Hosts Heben Nigato and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangos, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.

The Read is hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, who share their weekly “read” of hip-hop and pop culture’s most trying stars.

The Friend Zone is hosted by Dustin Ross, HeyFranHey, and Assante. They explore mental hygiene. You can send questions and inquiries to their show.

Our National Conversation About Race is from Panoply. Co-hosts Anna Holmes, Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda, and Tanner Colby host a lively multiracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.

The Combat Jack is described as the undisputed #1 HipHop podcast. The show features interviews with HipHop icons and the most in-depth conversations about music, news, culture and Race.

Race Wars is hosted by Kurt Metzger and Sherrod Small, who cut through all the layers of politically correct media spin to deliver hysterical and truthful opinions on social, racial and global topics.

So Well Spoken is hosted by Angelus, Mike, and Morris. They have a round table format to discuss race relations, current events, entertainment, and pop culture.

Best Podcasts of 2016 – According to iTunes

Apple unveiled its Best of 2016 list early in December. The list includes the best apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts of 2016 across App Store, iTunes, Apple Music, and iBooks.

Podcasts hit an impressive milestone in 2016: globally, Apple listeners consumed over 10 billion downloads and streams over the past 12 months via iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and desktop.  Fresh Air from NPR is the top downloaded podcast of the year.

In addition, iTunes has put together a list of the Best Podcasts of 2016. This grouping of podcasts is described in iTunes as “favorites”. They are simply listed together in one group (and are not ranked against each other). Each is listed with a quote from iTunes explaining why it was selected.

The Best Podcast of 2016 list includes:

Revisionist History – hosted by Malcolm Gladwell – from Panoply
“No one turns history on its head like Malcolm Gladwell. We love his provocative take on everything from satire to Wilt Chamberlain”

How I Built This – hosted by Guy Raz – from NPR
“We were incredibly inspired by hearing the founders of Spanx, Instagram, and other start-ups explain how they made it big.”

In the Dark by APM Reports and reporter Madeline Baran – from APM
“This year’s huge breakthrough in the Jacob Wetterling abduction case fueled a fascinating look at why it went unsolved for decades.”

Jocko Podcast – hosted by Jocko Willink
“Leadership, fitness, military history – retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson.”

Anna Faris is Unqualified – hosted by Anna Faris
“Anna and her pal Sim have so much fun hanging out and chatting with celebrity friends, we can’t resist joining in.”

NPR Politics Podcast – hosted by NPR’s political reporters
“With their awesome insights and discussion, NPR’s political team kept us up to speed on a truly unpredictable election.”

My Favorite Murder – hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – from Feral Audio
“After one episode, we adored this show like its hosts adore twisted tales and catchphrases. Their gabfests are always entertaining.”

2 Dope Queens – hosted by Phoebie Robinson and Jessica Williams – from WNYC
“We’ll crash this party anytime. Jessica, Phoebe, and their hilarious guests bring enough energy and fearlessness for 10 podcasts”.

Accused – Cincinnati Enquirer
“Powerful and thought-provoking, the story of Elizabeth Andres’ unsolved murder stuck with us long after the final episode.”

FiveThirtyEight Politics – hosted by Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight team
“For the kind of deep political analysis that goes state by state and stat by stat, we love listening to Nate Silver and crew.”

Heavyweight – hosted by Jonathan Goldstein – from Gimlet
“Jonathan Goldstein’s clever look at people’s hidden burdens (their “heavyweight”) is as captivating as it is moving.”

Pardon My Take – hosted by Big Cat and PFT Commenter – from Barstool Sports
“The hosts’ call-it-like-they-see-it sports talk made PMT our perfect companion through the Olympics, the World Series, and more.”

iTunes Announces Winter Content Submission and Holiday Support Schedules

iTunes logoEvery year, things slow down a bit at Apple during the holiday season. And 2016 is no different. Last week, Apple sent an e-mail to all registered iTunes Store content providers to let them know what Apple is planning for the rest of the year.

The e-mail has two sections that will be useful to podcasters. The first section is titled Winter Content Submission Schedules. These schedules are the dates that Apple staff will be available to review new submissions to the iTunes Store. Apple provided a handy chart that shows when you should submit a new podcast, depending on your projected launch date:

iTunes 2016 Winter Submission Dates

Note that this chart applies to the submission of new podcasts only. It has no impact on shows that are already listed in the iTunes Store. The e-mail from Apple also states, “If you plan on launching any Podcasts during this time, we recommend submitting your podcast for approval as early as possible.”

The second section of the e-mail that’s relevant to podcasters is the Holiday Support Schedules:

If you have questions or need support, you can always reach out to our Podcasts Support team. However, keep in mind that they won’t be available on the below dates, and Podcast approvals and response times on or around these dates may be delayed:

November 24 to November 25, 2016

December 24, 2016 to January 2, 2017

Make sure you keep these dates in mind if you’re planning on launching a new podcast before the end of the year or if you find you need help with an existing iTunes Store listing.

iTunes Connect Is Your New Podcast Dashboard

iTunes logo newAbout 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 login

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.)

iTunes Connect podcast dashboard

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.

iTunes Creates “10 Years of Podcasts” Essential List

iTunes 10 Years of PodcastsWhile the medium itself goes back to 2004, podcasting took a big step towards the mainstream when support for podcasts was added to iTunes in June of 2005. And love it or hate it, the iTunes Store and its podcast directory are likely to be central to the world of podcasting for a long time to come. In that spirit, the iTunes staff put together a feature page called “10 Years of Podcasts.” This special section focuses on podcasts that have been deemed “Essential” and as you can probably guess, it includes a lot of stuff from the usual suspects like NPR, The Nerdist, and TWiT. From iTunes:

Back in 2005, we were thrilled to bring podcasts to iTunes – and a decade later, we’re as excited as ever. We’ve gone from 3,000 shows to hundreds of thousands, seen the medium explode internationally, and watched hits like Serial and WTF with Marc Maron capture audiences like never before. As the world of podcasts has changed, podcasts have changed the world. Celebrate their success with our favorite shows over the past decade, spanning everything from longtime classics to emerging superstars.

It’s worth noting that this list isn’t celebrating shows that have been around for ten years. Rather, it’s a collection of shows from the last ten years that are still ongoing and (more importantly) liked by the iTunes Podcasts team.

Congratulations to iTunes on its tenth year in podcasting! Now, how soon ’til we get that user portal?

Get Your Reviews with the iTunes Podcast Review Manager Plugin

iTunes logo newPodcasters are always trying to get more iTunes reviews. And one good strategy for doing that is to read those reviews on your show as they come in. But the iTunes client itself doesn’t provide a good way to find and then follow up on reviews. But a new WordPress plugin called iTunes Podcast Review Manager could make the process of getting iTunes reviews a whole lot easier.

Using iTunes Podcast Review Manager is pretty straightforward. Install the plugin by using either the Add New Plugin feature in WordPress or manually downloading and uploading it. Activate the plugin and then navigate to the Podcast Reviews menu in the sidebar of the WordPress dashboard. From there, go to the Settings page and enter the iTunes Store URL of your podcast. It may take a minute for the plugin to find your first batch of reviews. Once it’s done, it’ll display those reviews in a table that can then be sorted by country, date, rating, username, title or review.

iTunes Podcast Review Manager screenshot
Screenshot of part of the iTunes Podcast Review Manager display window.

I’ve only installed and used the plugin once but it’s working well so far. There’s also a Premium tab inside of iTunes Podcast Review Manager but all it says is a premium service will be launching soon.

If you’re a WordPress user and you’re looking for an easy way to get your iTunes reviews, take a look at iTunes Podcast Review Manager. Keep in mind that free services like this have come and gone in the past. If you don’t use WordPress and/or you’d like to use an established service for collecting your podcast reviews, you should check out My Podcast Reviews.

iTunes Glitch Limiting Number of Displayed Episodes

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.

iTunes Screen Shot

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.