Apple has celebrated Earth Day for many years, but the company has more going on for 2021 than ever before including an environmental justice initiative, content tie-ins across several services, and an Apple Watch challenge.
Posts tagged with "podcasts"
During today’s keynote event, Apple announced their new Apple Podcasts Subscriptions service. Launching in May in over 170 countries, the service will allow users to subscribe to premium podcasts directly from the Apple Podcasts app. Premium shows will offer access to various perks for users, such as removing ads, releasing shows early, or providing exclusive content.
Podcast creators can participate in the service for $19.99/year, and can use the redesigned Apple Podcasts Connect website to manage their subscription offerings. Apple has partnerships set up with some creators and companies to kick things off, including NPR, The Athletic, Tenderfoot TV, and Pushkin Industries.
Accompanying the new subscription service is an update to the Apple Podcasts app. The updated app will allow subscribing to premium podcasts, and will also display new “channels.” Podcast channels are groups of shows curated by creators, and can be either free or paid.
Apple Podcasts Subscriptions details:
- Channels are “groups of shows curated by creators”
- New ‘Apple Podcasters Program’ with “tools needed to offer premium subscriptions” at $19.99/year
- Subscriptions can be shared with family #AppleEvent
— Federico Viticci (@viticci) April 20, 2021
While the integration into Apple’s ecosystem means users can easily subscribe using their existing App Store accounts, it also means that Apple will be taking its usual 30% of revenue from podcast creators. This will drop to 15% after the first year, the same way it does for in-app purchases.
Sofa is a terrific downtime organizer. Since its release, the app has seen frequent updates that have added features and refinements that make it an excellent one-stop destination for collecting media you want to enjoy later. We’ve covered the app before, so I won’t revisit its core functionality here, but if you’re new to the app, be sure to check out our previous reviews for more details.
The headline feature of Sofa’s latest update is the addition of apps, audiobooks, and board games to the lineup of media it can track. I’m especially pleased to see that iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps have been added to Sofa. I’ve long considered trying new apps as a form of entertainment. Even poking around productivity apps that most people would consider ‘work’ apps is fun for many people.
The addition of apps is timely given the trend towards subscription-based apps with free trials. If an app catches your eye, but it’s got a relatively short free trial period, you can drop it into Sofa to try later when you can make the most of the trial. The addition of apps also provides a way to track games on Apple’s platforms that weren’t always available in Sofa’s videogame category. However, the change also means that you may have to search for an iOS game in a couple of different places at times.
Apple has partnered with Common Sense Media to curate collections of podcasts for kids in the US. The shows are picked by Common Sense Media, an organization whose editors have a long history of helping parents and educators find age-appropriate media for children.
The shows currently highlighted in Apple Podcasts’ new collections are from a wide variety of creators like Tinkercast, American Public Media, Gen-Z Media, Pinna, Tumble, Highlights, WNYC Studios, Rebel Girls, and Nickelodeon. The collections will be updated monthly and will feature podcasts organized by age groups and themes. Currently, there are four themed collections available:
- Common Sense Media Picks, a collection of some of the organization’s all-time favorite podcasts
- One More!, a collection of mysteries and action-packed stories
- Kids Know Best, shows picked by kids themselves
- Story Time, which includes stories designed to spark kids’ imaginations
With the large number of podcasts available today, the guidance provided by these new collections is a terrific resource for families. There are a lot of shows here that I know my kids would have enjoyed when they were younger.
Apple TV+ is launching its first podcast that will serve as a companion to the show ‘For All Mankind,’ the Apple Original series that imagines a world where the Soviet Union was first to land on the Moon. Trailers for the podcast, which is hosted by cast member Krys Marshall, are available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube. The first full episode will be published Friday, February 19th at 9:00 am US Pacific time, which is also when the first episode of season two of For All Mankind will be available.
‘For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ is being produced in partnership with AT WILL MEDIA, a Manhattan and Los Angeles-based media production company that has produced shows like The Choice for The New York Times. New episodes of the TV show will debut at 9:00 am US Pacific time each Thursday, with new episodes of the 10-episode podcast coming out every other week on Fridays at the same time.
Podcast host Krys Marshall, who plays Commander Danielle Poole on For All Mankind, will be joined by space experts, former astronauts, and people involved in creating the TV show, providing a mix of science and behind-the-scenes details about the show. The show is available in the Apple Podcasts app as well as third-party podcast players via RSS.
You can listen to the trailer for ‘For All Mankind: The Official Podcast’ below:
February is Black History Month, and Apple has announced a long list of ways it is celebrating across its products and services. In a press release the company said:
Apple is bringing customers a variety of new and updated collections and exclusive content that highlight and amplify Black creators, artists, developers, and businesses. From curated features across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, to new Apple Maps Guides, the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection, Today at Apple sessions, and more, here is a look at what is in store across Apple’s products and services this February.
In the App Store, Apple is featuring stories with Black developers and highlighting social justice apps along with entertainment and gaming apps. The month-long feature extends to other services too:
- Music will feature Black musicians and include related content like playlists, essays, videos, and custom artwork
- Maps Guides, which has seen many updates recently, will feature Black-owned businesses in collaboration with EatOkra
- The Apple TV App will include ‘Essential: Stories That Honor Black Families,’ plus two free episodes of The Oprah Conversation featuring ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ by author Isabel Wilkerson
- Apple News will have curated topic groups and Apple Books will showcase a collection of relevant books and audiobooks
- The Podcasts app will highlight Black voices including Michelle Obama, Joe Budden, Phoebe Robinson, and Baratunde Thurston, plus an extended promotion of shows featuring relevant topics
- Fitness+ will spotlight songs from Black artists, and the first Time to Walk episode for February will feature author Ibram X. Kendi who will discuss racial justice and resiliency
- Today at Apple will feature virtual sessions and tutorials moderated by Kimberly Drew with Black artists including typographer Tré Seals, creative director, filmmaker, and photographer Joshua Kissi, and visual artist, photographer, and educator Shan Wallace
- Shot on iPhone will feature 30 Black photographers
On the product side, Apple has introduced the Black Unity Collection that includes a limited-edition Apple Watch 6, a Black Unity Sport Band, and a Unity watch face. Apple is also supporting six groups dedicated to promoting and achieving equality and civil rights in the US and around the world. The Watch and Sports Band will be available beginning February 1st and the watch face will debut with watchOS 7.3, which Apple says will be out later today.
The Black Unity Sports Band and Unity watch face, which changes dynamically as the Watch moves, include the green, red, and black colors of the Pan-African flag, and the Sports Band has ‘Truth. Power. Solidarity’ laser etched on the inside of the band’s fastening pin. Similarly, the limited-edition Watch has ‘Black Unity’ etched in the Watch’s crystal back. Apple will also kick off a special month-long Unity Activity Challenge on February 1st that is achieved by closing Move ring at least seven days in a row.
Today, Apple unveiled a new monthly editorial feature for Podcasts called Spotlight, which showcases up-and-coming podcast creators. The first podcaster featured is Chelsea Devantez, whose show Celebrity Book Club debuted late last year and discusses the memoirs of celebrity women.
Spotlight can be found in Podcasts’ Browse tab and is accompanied by ‘Editors’ Notes’ where you usually would see the show’s description. As a result, those editorial notes are available in third-party podcast apps too.
In an announcement by the podcast’s publisher Stitcher, Apple’s Global Head of Business for Apple Podcasts, Ben Cave said that “Apple Podcasts Spotlight helps listeners find some of the world’s best shows by shining a light on creators with singular voices.” I’m glad to see Apple Podcasts continue to evolve and expand its discovery tools. Apple has been instrumental in the growing popularity of podcasts for years. However, the company’s role as editorial curator of shows and creator of its own content is a more recent development. Like features the company has rolled out for Apple Music in recent years, Spotlight is the sort of thing that doesn’t need to be held until an OS update, allowing podcast fans to take advantage of it now.
In a press release today, Apple provided an update on its services. According to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services:
Now more than ever before, customers around the world have found inspiration and value in the breadth and quality of Apple’s services, which have impacted their lives in big and small ways every day. We’re incredibly optimistic about where we’re headed, and we believe that the opportunities for developers and the creative community are endless, as are the positive and meaningful benefits to our customers.
Among the highlights Apple shared are App Store revenue numbers for the 2020 holiday season, which were greater than 2019 for the same period and once again set an all-time record for single-day sales on New Year’s Day:
The trend continued over the holiday season, with App Store customers spending $1.8 billion on digital goods and services over the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, driven largely by spending on games. Customers ushered in 2021 by setting a new single-day spending record of over $540 million on New Year’s Day.
Apple also noted that developers have earned more than $200 billion since the inception of the App Store in 2008 and that it kicked off the App Store Small Business Program at the end of 2020.
In addition to apps, Apple recapped its other services:
- Apple Music, which added several new features in 2020 that Apple says have been used by more than 90% of iOS 14 users
- The Apple TV App, which debuted on new smart TVs and videogame consoles in 2020 and is now available on over 1 billion screens in more than 100 countries
- TV+, which gained a dedicated tab in the TV app and was nominated for 159 awards, receiving 45
- Apple News, which added local news for certain cities, included special coverage of the pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the US election, and added audio to News+ in 2020
- Fitness+, which debuted just before the New Year
- Apple Pay, which Apple says is accepted by more than 90% of US stores, 85% of UK stores, and 99% of Australian stores
- Apple Arcade, which now has more than 140 games with games that have received more than 50 award nominations
- Apple Books, which has over 90 million monthly active users
- Apple Podcasts, which is available in 175 countries and 100 languages
- iCloud, 85% of whose users have enabled two-factor authentication
Every year I’m struck that the App Store continues to set holiday season records for sales. The success of the App Store has been nothing short of remarkable, but as Apple’s press release demonstrates, Apple’s current services story today extends far beyond apps.
Apple Podcasts now supports an embeddable podcast player for shows in its directory along with other marketing tools.
The player comes is responsive and can display either a show with multiple episodes or an individual episode along with playback controls and navigation options. There are controls for play/pause and to skip forward 30 seconds and back 15 seconds, as well as a timeline scrubber that appears after you click or tap play. An ellipsis menu button provides options to open a show or episode in Apple’s Podcasts app, copy a link to the show or episode, and copy embeddable code. The player is also responsive, making it look terrific on mobile and desktop devices. It’s worth noting that content blockers will hide the embedded players, so if you don’t see them below, disable content blockers and reload the page.
To create the code to embed the Podcasts player, visit the Apple Podcasts Marketing Tools webpage. Here’s an example of the large version of this week’s episode of AppStories:
And an embed for the show itself:
The embed for a show plays the latest episode by default with additional episodes available to the right of the player. The ‘See More Episodes’ button opens the Podcasts app. In addition to the new player, the Podcasts Marketing page offers badging resources, show and episode short link generation, Apple Podcasts iconography that can be embedded or downloaded, and QR code generation.
We’ve tested Apple’s new embeddable player with AppStories and I’ve been extremely happy with it. First of all, it’s dead simple to implement. The player uses an iframe, which means it should work out-of-the-box with little, if any, fiddling for most websites. MacStories uses WordPress and all I needed to do was paste the iframe code into the story.
What’s more, the embeds look fantastic, far better than most of the options available from podcast hosting services. Most important of all, though, the user experience is excellent, allowing MacStories readers to sample a show inline and jump to the Apple Podcasts app on any platform to learn more and subscribe.
Apple has had a similar widget system for Music content for a while, and I’m glad to see it’s been implemented for shows in Podcasts too. Podcast fans already have their preferred ways to access their favorite shows. What Apple Podcasts web embeds provides, though, is discoverability. The embeds are a simple, frictionless way for readers to sample the show and hopefully become subscribers.