The Podcast Tech News Just Keeps On Coming - We Sort It Out.

The podcast related tech news has been coming at us like a fire hose over the past few days. It is worth taking a stab at distilling it down.

Apple: “Lets turn our attention to podcasts” 

You gotta love when Apple begins a segment of their developer’s conference with these words; “Let’s turn our attention to podcasts.”  

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The big news, of course, is the end of the maddening, slow, bloated, and confusing iTunes. The result is a new dedicated app for podcasts which will now be native on every Mac in the bottom dock. At first glance, that may not seem all that significant given the relatively small amount of podcast consumption on computers and laptops, however, there are a couple of elements baked into this announcement which are worth focusing on. The first is screen visibility on millions of macs. That real estate has tremendous potential in creating new awareness of podcasting, and removing some friction in sampling among the 78% not yet listening to podcasts.

Now you can search spoken content 

You can see the “Transcript” section on this screen shot captured by Daniel J. Lewis.

You can see the “Transcript” section on this screen shot captured by Daniel J. Lewis.

Contextual search is a big deal. Apple will use machine learning to index all of the podcasts in their database.  That means if you are looking for content about 401k’s, it will surface conversations at any point in any podcast. If you are interested in conversations with the author David McCulllough, it can pull up any shows he was on, or talked about.  

At this point Apple’s transcription offering appears only to be available on the Mac. Apple Transcription is a great addition to Google’s recently announced spoken word transcription which will surface podcast content in general search. Hopefully this will soon be with the player icon baked in as they do with video. An Israeli startup, Audioburst is already ingesting the audio of top podcasts. Watch them as well. The ubiquity of being able to search podcast content is a big win.

100 category changes

While there appears to be a bit of pushback from app developers about how Apple chose to announce its deletions and addition of 100 + new content categories, this is overdue and welcome — why is the Trader Joe’s podcast in the same “Arts” category” as “Future Fossils,” a podcast about philosophy?  I’m still not happy how Apple removed the headphone jack on iPhones, so I get the annoyance factor with how they roll – but the category designations are a huge improvement.   True Crime, History, Nutrition, pets and animals, music interviews, sports news, and 93 more which make far more sense and will result in great benefit.

Spotify takes a shot at search and discovery

Ease of podcast discovery tops the frustration meter for new and veteran podcast listeners alike.  Spotify takes a shot this summer with a series of tests.  Nick Quah says only about 5% of users will see the “podcast playlists’ feature. Stand by.

Spotify has a “Car Thing”

Spotify’s “Car Thing”

Spotify’s “Car Thing”

What is this? Some kind of Spotify in car device “thing.” Still can’t exactly figure it out, but it is some type of device to “learn more about people’s listening habits and preferences’ says the company. This will be given to a select group of Premium Spotify users, and is called, um, “Car Thing.”

Why settle for 50 radio stations when you can have 100,000?  

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There were several passionate posts recently about whether or not to activate the FM chip in iPhones. Fred Jacobs and James Cridland have thoughtful commentary, but Apple pretty much settled the issue with the announcement of 100,000 streaming stations in the new version of IOS. While we already have all of those stations via various apps including TuneIn, iHeart and Radio.com, they will now be more accessible and supported by Siri. Radio stations can be activated by asking Siri for a station by its name. The FM chip argument was about accessibility of 50 or so local stations - now, Apple offers increased access to live radio from everywhere.

 CarPlay gets a makeover

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Apple announced a refreshed UI for CarPlay, its first since it debuted in 2014. Not sure whether the Podcasts UI gets a new look but music and maps look infinitely better and I guess the podcast interface will be improved. CarPlay is an increasingly important gateway for car buyers, and of course, podcasts have prominent placement. 90% of cars sold in the US now have CarPlay compatibility.

1 BILLION!

Oh yes, and this may not be a tech device ---however, it must be noted — the IAB is forecasting a billion dollar industry just two years from now.  

That feels good to write.

I will be talking about podcasts at Talkers 2019

I will be talking about podcasts at Talkers 2019

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