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Posts tagged with "podcasts"

Apple Podcasts Adds Curated Collections to Help Listeners Stay Informed, Calm, and Entertained During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads worldwide, there’s a lot of information coming at everyone all day long. It’s a stressful time, and it doesn’t help that people are stuck at home with more time than usual on their hands, and often, kids to entertain.

To help people cope, the Apple Podcasts editorial team has put together curated collections of podcasts. The ‘Coronavirus: Stay Informed’ collection draws on shows from respected, reputable news sources like CNN, NPR, the BBC, and ABC News. The shows spotlighted are excellent resources staying on top of the latest news.

However, because dealing with stressful times extends beyond keeping up-to-date with the developments, Apple Podcasts has three other collections too:

  • ‘Cultivating Calm,’ which is designed to help listens cope with current events and includes shows like Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Conversations and On Being with Krista Tippett
  • ‘Boredom Busters,’ which features absorbing shows like This American Life and Jungle Prince from The New York Times
  • Shows for Kids,’ which has shows to help kids explore and cultivate their natural curiosity and includes NPR’s Wow in the World, Ologies with Alie Ward, and many others

Each collection is available in the Browse tab of the Apple Podcasts app on all of the company’s platforms.

I’ve had most of my whole family at home all week, and it’s been an adjustment for everyone. My work life hasn’t changed much, but it has been a new experience for my wife and two of our kids who are working and going to school alongside me every day now. Despite those obligations, staying at home has meant that everyone has more time on their hands, which is why it’s terrific to see Apple promoting a wide range of podcasts to help people stay informed, calm, and entertained through these difficult times.


Jason Snell on Editing Podcasts with Ferrite on an iPad with the Apple Pencil

Jason Snell has edited a lot of podcasts. In fact, The Incomparable, the flagship show of his media and pop culture podcast network of the same name, just reached episode 500.

Since last summer, Snell has been using Ferrite by Wooji Juice to edit nearly every episode of The Incomparable on his iPad with the Apple Pencil. I’ve heard him describe his iPad and Apple Pencil workflow on podcasts before, but there’s nothing like seeing it in action, which you can now do on the Six Colors YouTube channel.

What struck me most about Snell’s video is how natural direct manipulation of multiple audio tracks looks. I’ve always done all of my podcast editing on a Mac with Logic Pro X, but after watching Snell edit an episode with multiple guests, I look forward to trying this myself.

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Overcast Refines Podcast Listening with AirPlay 2 Support and a New Version of Voice Boost

Overcast, Marco Arment’s iOS podcast player, received its first update of 2020 today, which enhances the listening experience with improvements focused on playback and audio quality.

Today’s update adds support for AirPlay 2, which means much faster switching between devices like an iPhone or iPad and a HomePod or another AirPlay 2 speaker or device. AirPlay 2 also buffers more audio than Apple’s original AirPlay technology. As a result, Overcast can continue playing a podcast episode even if you are temporarily out of range of the AirPlay 2 receiver.

I’m delighted that Overcast supports AirPlay 2 now. I often listen to podcasts as I’m doing things around my house. When I move to a room with one of my HomePods, the process of switching to the HomePod from my iPhone’s built-in speaker is much faster and smoother now, whether I use Control Center or tap my phone on the top of the HomePod. The delay with the original version of AirPlay wasn’t a deal-breaker, but it was a constant small annoyance that kept me from using AirPlay with Overcast most of the time. With AirPlay 2 baked into the app, I’m using my HomePods to listen to podcasts far more than ever before.

There's a lot going on under the hood with Voice Boost 2, but you don't need to understand the details to enjoy it.

There’s a lot going on under the hood with Voice Boost 2, but you don’t need to understand the details to enjoy it.

The latest version of Overcast also adds Voice Boost 2. The feature has been rebuilt from the ground up, and the results are subtle but noticeable. The first time I played a podcast using Voice Boost 2 over my iPhone’s speaker in a noisy environment, I immediately sensed the difference. Where in the past, I would have to turn the volume up all the way to hear a podcast over constant, loud background noise like running water, now I can turn the volume down and still listen to what was said and with less distortion.

Over the weeks I’ve been testing the update to Overcast, Voice Boost 2’s volume and clarity improvements have become the ‘new normal,’ making the difference feel less pronounced than they were at first. However, that’s also why the update to the feature is so good. The change is so natural that you don’t notice it except side-by-side with the old version of the feature or another podcast player.

Under the hood, Voice Boost 2 has been entirely re-written and draws on Arment’s experience editing hundreds of podcast episodes. As he describes it in a post on Marco.org:

Voice Boost 2 is a mastering-quality audio-processing pipeline that applies broadcast-standard loudness normalization, light compression and EQ, and a true-peak lookahead limiter to your podcasts, in real time, without sacrificing quality or battery life.

You don’t need to understand what that means to appreciate Voice Boost 2, but Overcast is applying sophisticated, professional-grade audio processing techniques on the fly to generate audio that sounds more natural and is less jarring in contrast to system audio like Siri. Moreover, Overcast accomplishes this while using hardly any CPU resources (1% on an iPhone SE according to Arment), which means you get the benefits of Voice Boost 2 without paying a high price in battery drain. Voice Boost 2 is a remarkable technical accomplishment with practical, real-world benefits that make listening to podcasts more enjoyable.

According to Arment, Smart Speed has been updated to handle background noise better, too. The feature works the same way as it always has, but now it relies on dynamically changing based on Voice Boost’s loudness analysis. I haven’t noticed a difference here, but shows I listen to regularly don’t have a lot of background noise.

Overcast has added the ability to skip a show's intro and outro from its settings.

Overcast has added the ability to skip a show’s intro and outro from its settings.

Overcast also includes a couple of other smaller features in this release too. First, you can set a number of seconds to skip at the beginning and end of an episode on a per-podcast basis, which allows you to skip a show’s intro and outro. The period can be set in five-second increments and is a nice addition for shows with long intros and outros that you’ve heard over and over and would prefer to skip, though it’s not a feature I expect to use personally.

Second, clip sharing and starring episodes are now available for private podcast feeds. I haven’t tried this feature because I don’t subscribe to any private feeds, but it’s good to see those features added to private feeds too.

The most significant changes to Overcast in this update are completely invisible to the user but have a considerable impact on how podcasts are enjoyed. With Voice Boost 2 and AirPlay 2 support, Overcast makes your favorite shows sound better, and they are easier to enjoy on more devices, which is a significant improvement for anyone who listens to podcasts in a lot of different environments and contexts.

Overcast 2020.1 is available on the App Store as a free update.


Apple Podcasts Now Available on Amazon Alexa Devices

Amazon today has announced a new partnership with Apple that brings the full Apple Podcasts catalog to all Alexa-enabled devices in the U.S.:

Beginning today, Alexa customers in the U.S. will be able to listen to more than 800,000 podcasts available through Apple Podcasts on their Alexa-enabled device.

Whether you’re listening at home or on the go, you don’t need to worry about losing your spot. Link your account in the Alexa app using your Apple ID, and you can seamlessly pick up where you left off listening on the Apple Podcasts App or your Alexa device. Pause the subscribed episode you’re listening to in the Apple Podcasts app on your commute, and continue listening with your Alexa device at home by asking Alexa to resume the podcast.

When you first start using Apple Podcasts on an Alexa device, you’ll need to specify “on Apple Podcasts” in your command; for example, “Alexa, play The Daily from yesterday on Apple Podcasts.” However, you can remove that requirement by setting Apple as your default podcast provider.

If you’d like to make Apple Podcasts your preferred podcast provider with Alexa, you can set Apple Podcasts as your default podcast provider in the Alexa app. To do so, open the Alexa app, go to Settings, select Music & Podcasts, and link/manage new services. Then, each time you request a podcast, we’ll prioritize playing it from Apple Podcasts if it’s available.

This announcement marks a major expansion of Apple Podcasts and the latest evidence of Apple’s multi-platform services strategy. Just last year, Apple Music arrived on Alexa devices, and earlier this fall the Apple TV app debuted on Amazon Fire TV. Those two moves were in some ways less surprising than this one though, since they both involved granting access to Apple’s paid services, Music and TV+. Apple Podcasts, on the other hand, is entirely free, at least at the moment. Rumors have indicated Apple may be funding some exclusive new podcast content, but it’s unknown whether that will be part of a forthcoming paid subscription service, or simply an added perk of using Apple Podcasts.

Spotify this past year has made significant moves in the podcasting space, and it’s likely that their efforts, which have developed real momentum in the market, are propelling Apple to invest more heavily in its own podcast ecosystem – great news for users.


Spotify Announces New ‘Your Daily Podcasts’ Algorithmic Playlist

Spotify aims to do for podcasts what it’s done for music recommendations with today’s announcement of a new algorithmic podcast playlist.

One of the music streaming service’s greatest strengths is the analysis it does of users’ listening habits, which it uses to recommend new tracks through playlists like Discover Weekly and Daily Mix. According to Spotify, its new ‘Your Daily Podcasts’ playlist will analyze recent episodes you’ve streamed and the shows you follow to make recommendations tailored to the type of shows that match your interests. For example, for story-based sequential shows that you haven’t tried before, Spotify will offer the trailer or first episode of a show, while for daily, news-based podcasts, the playlist may include a recent, topical episode.

The addition of ‘Your Daily Podcasts’ is not surprising given remarks by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek when the company acquired Gimlet Media and Anchor. At the time, Ek said Spotify would offer improved ‘curation and customization’ for users and ‘better discovery, data, and monetization to creators.’

Podcast discovery remains an area that a number of companies are working to improve. As Spotify’s share of the podcast listener market increases, its ability to anticipate the podcasts and individual episodes that subscribers will enjoy has the potential to rival what has already made it such an attractive service for many music fans. Given its dominance of podcasting, it will also be interesting to see if Apple counters by enhancing its own discovery tools in the future.

Spotify says that the new playlist is available to subscribers in the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand who have listened to at least four podcasts in the past 90 days.


How I Edit Podcasts on the iPad Using Ferrite

This has been a year of new creative projects for me. In addition to some personal endeavors that have yet to see the light of day, I joined Federico as the co-host of Adapt, a new iPad-focused podcast on Relay FM. Learning the art of expressing my Apple takes in speech rather than text has been an adventure in itself, but I’ve also grown to cultivate a very different skill: audio editing.

When I was charged with editing this iPad-focused podcast, I naturally turned to an iPad-based editing tool: every episode of Adapt has been edited in Ferrite Recording Studio, and I’ve never even tried using another app. Most podcasters I’m familiar with edit in Logic, but my Mac mini is purposely utilized as little as possible, so I knew when I dove into podcasting that I wanted an iPad-based solution if at all possible. On multiple occasions I’ve heard and read Jason Snell extol the virtues of Ferrite, so that was the app I turned to.

Getting started with podcast editing, even with an app like Ferrite that’s built for it, can be extremely intimidating. There are lots of settings, and unless you have previous experience working with audio, you likely have no idea what any of them do. I learned a lot from Ferrite’s user guide in the early days, and the aforementioned Jason Snell articles on Six Colors. And before long, I found an editing setup that worked well for me. Now, I want to share it with you.

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Dialog Season 1, Episode 3: A Conversation with John Gruber (Part 2)

Today, we published the second part of our Dialog interview with John Gruber of Daring Fireball. You can find the episode here or listen in the Dialog web player below.

Like Federico, John Gruber was one of the first people I thought of when we began planning this first season of Dialog about writers and writing. Daring Fireball was an inspiration for me too, but in a slightly different way.

I first met Gruber in 2012 at the first Úll conference in Dublin, Ireland, where he was a surprise speaker. That was before I built my first iOS app or was writing or podcasting. I went to Úll on a lark to get a closer look at the iOS developer community I’d been following as I started to teach myself Objective-C. By the end of three days chatting with Gruber and other writers and developers at Úll, I knew I wanted to be part of that scene, creating my own apps. It would be almost three years before I launched Blink, my first app that drew any attention, and five before I could quit my old job, but that’s precisely why this second part of our interview with Gruber resonated with me.

Daring Fireball started like many indie businesses: as a labor of love that Gruber wrote on the side while working another job. The site didn’t earn enough to make it a full-time job at first, but over time it grew, and Gruber was faced with a choice. Daring Fireball had reached a point where it had a shot at supporting him and his family, but not unless he quit his day job, which he did.

In the latest installment of Dialog, we continue our conversation about the difficulty of making it as an indie writer online today. Gruber discusses how his priorities have shaped Daring Fireball, the audience for whom he writes, and maintaining the site’s relevance long-term.

Of course, no interview with Gruber would be complete without talking about Markdown. Although we nearly forgot to ask about it, I’m glad we did because it’s not easy to remember that Markdown, which debuted 15 years ago, took a while to catch on. Markdown’s human-readable syntax may not have clicked with writers on the web in 2004, but as more people who didn’t have experience with HTML started their own websites, Markdown gained momentum. Today, it’s used on all sorts of platforms and in text editors, blogging tools, and even Apple’s own Xcode IDE.

As we conclude our first Dialog interview, I want to thank John Gruber for taking the time to be our first guest on Dialog. Next week, we’ll begin a two-part interview with singer-songwriter Frank Turner, who we caught up with as he passed through Madison, Wisconsin on tour last month. I’m excited to share those episodes for a couple of reasons. First, it was a personal thrill to interview Turner, whose music I love. Second, while the conversation is a departure from what you likely hear on a lot of your favorite tech podcasts, there are fascinating parallels between John Gruber’s writing on Daring Fireball and Turner’s songwriting, which is precisely what we’d hoped for when we began this season.

Finally, thanks for listening. If you missed the first part of our interview with John Gruber you can listen to it here, and you can subscribe to the podcast here. Also, if you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment to rate it in iTunes or recommend it in Overcast to help others discover it.


WWDC Podcasts: A Roundup of Episodes with Apple Special Guests

If you enjoy podcasts and Apple, your queue of episodes to check out has likely been bursting full since WWDC kicked off last Monday. So many great shows have been published with analysis and impressions of Apple’s announcements, but one thing that’s been particularly special is the number of podcasts that have featured guests from Apple over the last week. Here’s a roundup of episodes with Apple employees that you shouldn’t miss out on.

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