> That’s right: if you host your show with Apple, the only listeners you can have are folks with the Apple Podcasts app. This feels like an absolutely wild choice from a product perspective; it’s the mindset of a company who still thinks that they have dominance over the podcasting world. It’s ludicrous to assume that it’s a good thing for listeners to have to have specific hardware in order to listen to a podcast.
I'm gona keep shouting this from the rooftops and maybe it will eventually sink in for some people:
Apple's end game is vertical integration, it's "lock-in" on steroids. When they own every product or service in the stack, they can tune one product (like podcasts) to serve the purposes of another, even when it appears to hurt a product and it's users individually, because it benefits Apple as a whole.
I get that Apple stuff is generally a nice experience and there is genuinely lots of cool technology, but people need to understand the future they are buying into with Apple. The deeper someone gets, the more painful it's going to be when that table flip moment comes, because that table has the weight of the whole Apple ecosystem holding it down - and so people will unconsciously endure much pain before doing so (lest they lose access to their podcasts); If that table flip moment comes with a competitor for an _individual_ service like this one, it's going to be a tiny inconvenience, and so users will endure less, and the product owner has more market pressure to provide a good service as the friction to change is low.
Those passionate about Apple will argue with individual counter examples, but the core issue is the broader strategy that does not have user interests at heart. It's honestly heartbreaking as someone who grew up with and loved Apple computers, they hung onto the concept of holism from the 80s in making the whole computer and it has produced some excellent machines. But now the same strategy is being twisted into something that actively works against the user instead.
Apple has controlled the podcast industry through the iTunes podcast directory since day one.
They’ve been benevolent and haven’t cracked down on things. They let basically any podcast in for free. They let 3rd party clients use their directory for free.
They ARE the podcast industry. And they’ve been open.
I see this purely as a reaction to Spotify and Google and others trying to grab and control the industry with private “podcasts” that can only be listened to in their custom app.
They’re trying not to be shoved out. And they’re big enough to be able to hold it.
It would be great if 3rd party apps on iOS could access your podcast subscriptions.
But this is way better to me than standing by and letting Spotify or whoever destroy the industry.
(I subscribe to podcasts, but not through Apple since I can’t use my preferred app, Overcast).
> Apple has controlled the podcast industry through the iTunes podcast directory since day one.
> They ARE the podcast industry. And they’ve been open.
Hmmm is this really true? I've been listening to podcasts since 2012ish which puts me fairly early in the adoption curve and I've never used iTunes once (always been PocketCasts on Android).
Anyway, just another f'ing reason to NOT go all-in on Apple. Apple Podcasts kinda sucks? The few times I do use it as a directory to grab a link to send to a iOS-using friend, i just hate it. Search sucks, linking to a specific episode sucks, discoverability sucks.
I love my '22 M1 MBP I get from work, but it's the only Apple device I own. I just cannot stand this type of closed-system tactics, especially when their offering is so much worse than alternatives (don't get me started on iMessage or Safari)
>> They ARE the podcast industry. And they’ve been open. >Hmmm is this really true?
They’ve accounted for the vast majority of podcast listeners since the early iPod days. It’s literally why they are called podcasts. They only dipped below 50% of listeners relatively recently.
That's what I meant but you're right my comment could easily be interpreted differently, thanks.
Netcast seems appropriate
The "pod" in "podcasts" stands for iPod.
They even C&D the original podcast app, because it was named iPodder.
"Apple Takes Podcasting Mainstream" in 2005.
> The "pod" in "podcasts" stands for iPod.
Yes, but it wasn't invented by Apple, but by a BBC Journalist, who had nothing to do with Apple.
As per Wikipedia page:
The term "podcast" predates Apple's addition of podcasting features to the iPod and the iTunes software.
So the charitable interpretation is that they're trying to compete with Spotify's walled garden, by... doing the same thing themselves?
This also doesn't help them compete with Spotify anyway, since they use their own directory and hosting system. The only ones hurt here are third-party clients and end users. The ones you think they're trying to "protect".
If a podcast was only ever going to be available to people who paid, it means people using the Apple podcast app might still be able to get it if they can prevent an exclusivity deal.
If a podcast was available both free and paid, it will still be available for free. And maybe the paid option isn’t exclusive.
In either case, Spotify (or whoever) might not be stealing users and market share they could use to force things in their favor further.
I’m not arguing this is good. I don’t like the trend of “you can only listen to it in $APP”, and I would agree with some others those shouldn’t be called podcasts.
I’m just saying Apple isn’t starting the fight, they’re trying not to be caught flat-footed by all the others who were.
>If a podcast was only ever going to be available to people who paid, it means people using the Apple podcast app might still be able to get it if they can prevent an exclusivity deal.
I don't understand exactly what you are saying, but if you mean that they wanted to offer a way to publish paid content, that doesn't explain or justify why they would add DRM to all content uploaded, which is what the author is upset about.
"They let 3rd party clients use their directory for free."
But all the numerous other free directories, I doubt they are all sourced from Apple. The non-Apple podcast hosting services provide RSS feeds. Self-hosted podcasts usually provide RSS feeds. Anyone can use these feeds, not just Apple.
Personally I think Apple's directory, as accessed via www, is inferior to some of the alternatives. For example, it does not list all episodes, only the most recent ones.
If I want a definitive podcast index, I go to the source of podcasts for the RSS feeds or just .mp3 URLs, not to Apple. (Apple appears to prefer .m4a to .mp3)
Most podcasts are not hosted on Apple servers. Apple is just retrieving XML files from someone else.
I agree with this--however it was largely accidental. Apple supported open podcasting because that is all there was. I also agree that changes to Apple's podcast efforts for the worse are mostly about countering Spotify, which by the way is the real bad actor in closing down podcasts, by a country mile.
It sure would be nice though if instead of just praising podcasts as they have been, if there were open solutions to various problems open podcasts face that are not shared by closed ecosystems: There is still no good way to share a link or a clip for instance, unless the podcast app bakes its own (which will not work with other apps). There should be RSS syncing back-ends not tied to any one app as well.
> They ARE the podcast industry.
Huh. I never knew that Apple invented RSS feeds and hosting an mp3 file at a URL. Because that's all a podcast is.
This is the same set of excuses trotted out for why you can't use Firefox's Gecko engine with uBlock Origin on iOS.
Apple has been basically been providing a public service with their free podcast directory since 2012.
There is nothing comparable in the case of the Safari on iOS situation.
>Apple has been basically been providing a public service with their free podcast directory since 2012.
that benefited them?
> Apple's end game is vertical integration, it's "lock-in" on steroids. When they own every product or service in the stack, they can tune one product (like podcasts) to serve the purposes of another, even when it appears to hurt a product and it's users individually, because it benefits Apple as a whole.
This is demonstrable not true. From the time that iTunes first introduced podcast support in iTunes back in 2004 until today, you host your RSS feed on your own site and iTunes indexes your RSS feed. But you still host your own audio that gets served off of your own site.
Not only that, Apple has had a public documented API that doesn’t need any keys that you can use to basically get any information from the index since 2006.
Third party podcast apps use the API.
If your podcast isn’t listed on iTunes, you can still subscribe to the RSS feed of the podcast directly if you know the url.
If you publish a URL on your website, by default it will open in the podcast app.
This is much different than the podcast in name only monstrosity that Spotify has
On the other hand, the Apple podcast app has always sucked and I use Overcast.
Yes you can pretty easily have paid podcasts outside of Apple .
To the first approximation, no one is dumb enough to use Apple’s paid podcast offering and uses a third party one or roll their own with dedicated urls because they realize the number of third party clients available and they have no relationship with the customer.
This is a great answer/ great reply to the thread. Thank you for sharing
This is exactly why when I picked a file-sync/storage service I have never once considered iCloud (or OneDrive for that matter) and never will.
And in general I've stopped adopting Apple-originated software entirely, weaned myself off of most of that which I had adopted, and have largely rid myself of anything macOS-only even from 3rd parties. iOS is what I'm taking an inventory of next.
I may continue to buy Apple hardware. They've shown up here well enough that I can ignore minor misgivings about cost and upgradability/repairability/recovery. But the software ecosystem just seems like a gilded cage in the best case, and that's ignoring the signals that this is company that trades in digital experiences & economics rather than the old-fashioned bicycles for the mind. We're well beyond the "PCs are trucks" thing and into "we sell the experience of owning a new sedan every 2 years."
> the signals that this is company that trades in digital experiences & economics rather than the old-fashioned bicycles for the mind
Just to screw with their old marketing: The bicycle is now trying to drive the mind - you want to go left but it keeps gradually, imperceptibly, steering you right - for some people as soon as they feel that force feedback through the handlebars it causes an autonomic response, recoiling in fear as the tool they previously trusted seems to have a mind of it's own... Some other hidden force in the machine is competing with your decisions. Yet the majority of people don't seem to have this response, perhaps it's earned, I don't know.
> I get that Apple stuff is generally a nice experience and there is genuinely lots of cool technology, but people need to understand the future they are buying into with Apple.
Can't speak for all Apple users, but the way a lot of my friends talk about their phones - it is crystal clear they think they're better than you if you don't have an iPhone.
I imagine this subset of users would be glad that people without iPhones can't listen to podcasts.
I think they're aware of what they're buying into and like it.
As someone who loves Apple stuff: what kind of people are you hanging out with?
I’ve never heard an adult I interact with express that. My Android using friends don’t care.
I cannot tell you the amount of times my friends mentioned Green Bubble to me as an insult.
And that was basically Apple's strategy to begin with. That user can say he doesn't experience it in his friend group but its been well documented and accepted at this point , especially among teenagers.
Are you the person who made up that insult? Or do you just go along with all the other people who use it?
What is a person beside the sum of their choices?
If having Green Bubbles is a negative connotation. It would seem it's because Blue Bubbles have a positive connotation.
It does not seem like a stretch that someone talking like that feels elitist because they have an iPhone - which they express by your lack of Blue Bubbles.
I think it's local phenomenon. It seems to be the case in the US at least. Where I live (Switzerland), most people are using WhatsApp (or Threema or Signal) anyway, even if they have iPhones.
There are people who get iPhones just for iMessage. They don't want to be the one person who puts the entire group chat into "green bubble" mode. People accuse Apple of doing this intentionally, but you know, it's not their fault SMS is terrible; even Android users tend to use WhatsApp or something for group chats.
I think the SMS fallback makes this fair. Apple saw how bad SMS is, they made it so iPhone-iPhone convos use an upgraded mode or fall back to SMS automatically, and I don't see why it's their job to give the upgraded mode to everyone for free. You can still talk to Android users in the same app.
They even put early effort into making Macs send/receive SMS via the iPhone. Google didn't do something similar until recently, or did they, hard to tell with their chat app naming.
I know it was a thing in middle school, and I'll bet some people never grew out of it. I've never heard an adult directly say that having an iPhone makes you better, but I have seen groups exclude people based essentially on income, and none of those people would be caught holding an Android phone.
It's dumb, I hate smartphones.
Beyond hardware integrations between their own HW, their software/services are odd and don't interoperate with conventional things. I used iphoto or whatever it was called and it had proprietary storage which was a huge turn off for me. Its never clear if a point of sale terminal accepts Apple Pay and where to hold your device so I avoid using it since chances are I have to get out a card anyway. Their podcast app has a concept of "play next" or "play last" and I went looking for a playlist thinking that was a thing where I could re-arrange a list, couldn't find that, maybe its there somewhere? Kinda same with "saved" or "downloaded" I was able to figure these out in Spotify's app. It feels like Apple's app UI always has extra clicks involved or its like key features are buried. Maybe its me and how my brain is wired from many years of Windows? The UI's are consistently odd.
> Its never clear if a point of sale terminal accepts Apple Pay and where to hold your device so I avoid using it since chances are I have to get out a card anyway.
This is actually kind of antithetical to your point. Apple Pay interoperates with all conventional point of sale systems. It's a PCI compliant, certified, contactless EMV payment device. You can use it anywhere you see the contactless EMV logo. There are standards actually about where that logo should be placed on the payment terminal to minimize confusion.
As for how to hold it, you're going to actually have less trouble figuring that out as compared to a passive card since passive cards have to be positioned a lot more accurately within the field - because physics.
There's a lot of examples of what you're describing but this isn't one.
> if a point of sale terminal accepts Apple Pay and where to hold your device
It's pretty obvious, it says "tap to pay" and has the logo on it?
Some of these terminals are oddly designed. Often the screen says "tap to pay," but you tap something above it that's not clearly marked, not the screen. Enough of the others have you tap the screen that you think it's that. Or a part says "Apple Pay," but that's just advertising the feature, and there's some unmarked area to tap.
But even for the ones that are decent, idk why I'd not just use my credit card.
Yeah, but you can also insert the card into the chip reader and not deal with the NFC stuff. Anyway, it's not an Apple-specific complaint.
Yeah I never use Apple Pay, it's useless
You including your Apple Pay gripe in that list is a misattributed laughable Americanism instead of the jab at Apple that you intend it to be.
Yep, same here in Australia. I never leave the house with more than my phone and I expect to tap & pay for absolutely everything. Even have cardless cash thru my bank's atm. and a digital license.
Visiting America feels like travelling back in time in this regard
Something about the shitty metric system I'll bet
I don't use enough tech stuff to care. I have an iPhone and a Mac, and they go together in a few ways like iMessage, but that's not the reason I have both. They're just good products. I would swap one of them out if I didn't like it. The deeper integrations are just toys; why would I even remotely need a Homepod or an Apple Watch? Why would I use the crappy News app on my Mac instead of a web browser?
The scarier thing they have is other users' loyalty on phones. Android has the same. I feel like nobody switches between the two anymore like the older days, and there was a distinct time when they switched from making what the user might want to deciding what the user wants. So both players do anti-consumer stuff in lock-step like removing headphone jacks to sell more accessories. I don't mind holding onto an old phone to avoid that, but there's a limit. AT&T stopped serving my iPhone 5.
What you are noticing is that competition is literally the worst strategy that corporations can adopt with respect to each other. Apple and Samsung probably have the keys to each other's destruction, but destroying the other would be bad because the remaining party would become a "monopoly" which is a loss condition, So the destruction is mutually assured, and intrinsic cooperation is possible. There's more money to be made cooperating, so the result is we lose the headphone jack.
I figured the same, but I'm still a little surprised because there are so many major Android phonemakers who should be competing. It's Samsung, LG, Google (Pixel), etc. Though the software is a duopoly of course.
Destroying the other company would primarily be bad because Apple is a good customer of Samsung ;)
someone will turn this into politics at some point. Someone will promote that reds use Android and Windows PCs, blues use iPhone and Macs. Then you'll need to fall in line or get cancelled.
not looking forward to it.
If computer usage ever became political, I think these companies are smart enough to play both sides.
> but people need to understand the future they are buying into with Apple
When Google or MS or someone else builds a better experience then we can move.
Google shuts things down like there’s no tomorrow. MS can’t release a product beyond 3 countries. No one makes headphones like Apple.
You can argue till you’re blue in the face that all the sound quality of every other brand is better. But I’m so tired of having to re-pair headphones on every device.
Can argue that android phones a better cos of this feature and that feature but the moment you install some apps the battery drains, there’s less consistency, apps want my credit card directly.
I’ve been spending years pushing back against Apple for being overpriced but the overall experience is just better.
I realize that it was just an example but newer bluetooth TWS chipsets can do multi-point pairing just fine. Also, Google's Fast Pair API is currently being expanded beyond just pairing headphones. They aim for more than just surface-level UX.
I doubt apps can stay on the playstore after asking for card details in a form. Google wants their cut too
> newer bluetooth TWS chipsets can do multi-point pairing just fine.
This is great news!
My iPhone 12 Mini had gotten slow and the battery life was becoming mediocre (after only 2 years), so I spent the last couple of months looking at phones. I use Linux primarily, so I was looking at Android phones because of course iPhones don’t talk to Linux or Windows computers. Unfortunately I ended up with an iPhone 14 because without an iPhone: - I can’t use (or update) my Apple Watch - I can’t use/track my AirTags - I can’t use most of the features of my AirPods Pros - I can’t use FaceTime or iMessage with 95% of the people I talk to who also have iPhones - I can’t utilize the free Apple Arcade subscription I get through Verizon (not a big deal obviously but this is why Verizon and Apple have this deal- to sell iPhones).
I’m getting rid of my MacBook because macOS is going down the shitter (another topic entirely). On a related note, I needed a second Mac in order to restore my MacBook, that is, remove the beta version of macOS Ventura I was running awhile ago to go back to a stable (“stable”) version. So yeah, the game is to get everyone to have to buy iPhones every couple of years whether there are any significant improvements or not. What can the iPhone 14 do that the iPhone 12 can’t? Absolutely fucking nothing.
The iPhone 12 mini has an A14 and the iPhone 14 an A15 processor. Geekbench single core performance is 7% better in the newer one. I doubt you're "feeling" the difference in speed between these two phones. The battery life in the 12 mini was not considered good from the start, so it's understandable, that after two years the battery is in not so good shape anymore.
As an owner of the 12 Pro, I can concur that the battery life of the 12 line is not that great compared to the 13/14.
So I have the iPhone 14 Pro Max which looks to be about a 30% improvement.
Only in multi core. Single core performance is up 18%. I once read you need at least 20% higher speed to feel an improvement. Perhaps the 120 Hz display is a much higher factor in the perceived performance in your new phone.
Not disputing your general points, but you could have gotten your iPhone battery replaced for about 70 USD.
I agree that having everything on Apple Podcasts may put more power into Apple and hurt smaller businesses/projects.
But I also totally dislike what is happening now with movie streaming I pay for a couple of platforms, and if I want to watch something, I start opening them one by one and search of that movie. Moreso when a tv series that I started watching on one platform suddenly migrates to another one so I have to follow it between platforms.
I start seeing that with podcasts: some of them launched only on other platforms and now I have to install 4-5 podcast apps on my phone and keep track of all of them when something new appears. From an Apple user perspective, I like that I have on app Podcasts where I go and can listen to the latest episode from my favorite podcasts.
> I agree that having everything on Apple Podcasts may put more power into Apple But I also totally dislike what is happening now with [streaming]...I start seeing that with podcasts: some of them launched only on other platforms and now I have to install 4-5 podcast apps on my phone and keep track of all of them when something new appears
You hate it when you have to use different/specific apps to get access to certain content. Apple is making it so that a bunch of people will be forced to use apple's app to get certain podcasts. It sounds like apple is making the problem you dislike worse for many people, but since it isn't impacting you personally as an apple user you don't mind it?
I don't like the recent development either. With shows it is even worse for podcasts you can usually get an RSS feed that can be used by many apps
Except that you were warned about this, but you still chose to use platforms, hence becoming part of the problem yourself.
I imagine most people believe that legislation will step in in the case that it becomes too uncomfortable for them, as consumers.
It turns out that if you put a from in water and raise the termperature slowly, they jump out exactly when they can no longer maintain homeostasis. Not everything can be manipulated by making change slow enough. Sometimes there are bifurcations.
I was fully in the Apple ecosystem several years ago. I came to the realization you talk about some time in 2019 or so—very glad I got myself out of it.
I think the best time was around 2007 - that was when apple switched from PPC to intel.
All of a sudden their ecosystem opened up. You could run windows on your solid apple hardware. People had more choices and agency.
both Apple and Spotify are dead set on ruining podcasting. look at their podcast sites. they dont believe in RSS, they don't believe in MP3. screw them for ignoring the roots of this movement and trying to build walled gardens around other people's content.
It ain’t 1s or 0s with vertical integration, right now and in the near future it works well and still not restrictive at all on most things. All I can say is that the quality and experience of using apple products has been worth it. You are free to hedge your bets by using both apple and google but that would be a bad experience
True, and it will never be 100% because society and governments have their own way of pushing back eventually. But as I said, the issue is in the broader strategy, a trend has been emerging for some time now. The cost benefit is subjective so people have different tolerances - but some, like me, exited a number of stops back when they saw the track ahead. I'm only here to suggest others might want to pop their head out the window and decide for themselves.
The future is silos.
I hope not.
To wit: you can't use the new hardware 2FA passkeys on iOS unless you opt in to iCloud and all of the surveillance that entails.
Why is that surprising since the keys are specifically for logging into iCloud? Do you complaine your gasoline car doesn’t have a diesel tank?
Passkeys are Apple's branding for using a iOS device as a WebAuthn authenticator, and it is for logging into everything on the web that supports WebAuthn. You can't use it unless you are using iCloud Keychain.
I'm not talking about security key support for iCloud logins.
Passkeys(tm) != security keys
It doesn’t sound like you know what this new feature actually does.
> You could sign up to allow Apple to host your show and its audio (for a cool $20/year). In exchange, you could charge a subscription fee to your listeners... If you host your show with Apple, the only listeners you can have are folks with the Apple Podcasts app... The audio will be protected with DRM.
The author presents this as "audacity" and bad... but doesn't it make perfect sense? If you're charging a subscription fee then it makes sense that the podcast lives in a walled DRM'ed garden. Also, if Apple is hosting it for nearly free ($20/year is nothing), why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps? If you post something on TikTok it doesn't show up on people's Facebook feeds.
Apple isn't taking away self-hosted RSS podcast feeds. It's presenting a separate paid subscription experience within its Podcasts app. No "audacity" about it. If you don't want that as a creator, don't use it.
> If you're charging a subscription fee
The DRM applies even if you charge no fee.
> why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps
Because every single other podcast hosting service does, with the exception of folks that signed a contract with Spotify.
> If you post something on TikTok it doesn't show up on people's Facebook feeds.
It can, actually. You can post a link. If I upload a podcast to Apple, it's physically inaccessible unless you have a Mac or an iOS device.
> Apple isn't taking away self-hosted RSS podcast feeds.
That was never the point, and not my concern. What they're doing is tricking small podcasters into signing up for a cheap service that prevents them from ever leaving.
If you’re paying money, signing an agreement and uploading files, Apple isn’t tricking you: you’re not doing your due diligence OR you just don’t care if anyone outside the Podcasts app can listen (there are podcasters who for reasons—good or not—assume their reach is only about as far as iTunes/Apple Podcasts).
This is crap, but it’s not because the deal Apple is offering to podcasters is crap: $20/year hosting and distribution into the biggest podcast ecosystem that exists with the option to charge a premium and keep 70%; it’s because they’re trying to turn their Podcast app into YouTube for Podcasts with an App Store model which is just on its face total crap. The fix is to find a different hosting provider and decline the services Apple is offering you.
> you’re not doing your due diligence OR you just don’t care if anyone outside the Podcasts app can listen
If you don't know to ask, how would you make an informed choice?
> the biggest podcast ecosystem that exists
That's kind of the thing: people think "I'm going to do it right and host with Apple, they're the OG podcast company" and then find themselves trapped.
I can’t agree that signing an agreement means Apple gets to behave however they want within the confines of the law. A contract should not be something that one hides behind, but something that someone holds up as enshrining a shared, common sense understanding of an agreement.
The fact that an Apple Podcasts user tried to do something that is 1) not unreasonable given other podcasting platforms and 2) not clearly understood to be contractually barred tells me that there is unacceptable deception.
Companies can write all sorts of convoluted (and legally enforceable) contracts but that is not the future we should be striving towards. Having the law on your side does not make it ethical.
> expect only exactly what the service offers in the agreement, and if the terms are not satisfactory, go sign with someone else.
You can't go somewhere else, because going somewhere else means starting over from scratch. That's the whole point of my post: you're locked in. The customer who reached out with this issue has hundreds of episodes and can't reasonably manually reupload them all to another service.
> If you’re going into podcasting as a business, don’t skimp on having a lawyer review the things you’ll be signing up and paying for, and if you skimp on that and get unlucky, expect to be doing the work required to move providers if what you signed up for isn’t satisfactory. It’s really that simple.
There’s a comedic version of this in I Think You Should Leave where a party planner hires an impersonator but fails to read the fine print that says the impersonator can hit anyone he wants to.
The issue is that people who get into podcasting don’t know ahead of time that it will become a business. That’s not “skimping” on hiring a lawyer, that’s just going about life as any reasonable person does. I’m sure even Jesus himself wouldn’t have read all of the terms and conditions for every service he used.
I disagree. To me the “is-should” gap is the only thing worth talking about. Everything else is just a matter of fact. I’m not a lawyer anyways so I don’t feel like my opinion on what the law is will be very helpful.
Apple is going to do what is best for Apple, and when that is contrary to our interests we should talk about it. Laws of Man are not laws of nature, they are a perpetually shifting body of agreements that in a democracy we have some liberty to adjust.
YouTube is very different in that its videos are not DRM protected, but the alternatives are (today at least) much worse in terms of content diversity.
> If I upload a podcast to Apple, it's physically inaccessible unless you have a Mac or an iOS device.
Unless I am misunderstanding your claim, this is not true.
You can listen to Apple Podcasts using iTunes for Windows. You can also listen to them on Android. But dealing with it on Android is indeed annoying, because it requires downloading podcasts in itunes on your desktop, and then manually transferring them to your Android phone after finding the locally stored files.
However, it is easy to sidestep all of that if the podcast creator just uploads to multiple podcast hosting platforms.
> requires downloading podcasts in itunes on your desktop, and then manually transferring them to your Android phone after finding the locally stored files.
TFA says they're DRMed, are they still readable on a random android client just by moving the files ?
Here's an example show, I'm curious if it works for you: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/test-podcast/id1667708...
Wow, this is a great workaround then to the author's issue.
You cannot download these podcast episodes as a file because they are protected with DRM. Seriously, find one of these shows and try getting a file from it
No: this isn't just any random podcast from the iTunes homepage. It only applies to podcasts which are hosted by Apple, not ones which Apple lists in its directory. This is a very small percentage of shows.
Here is an example. Curious if you can get it to work on Windows, because I physically cannot save the audio to a normal file on Mac. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/test-podcast/id1667708...
You can also listen to it on the Apple Podcasts website, e.g. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-daily/id1200361736...
The podcasts in question can't be played in the browser. It always forces you to open Apple Podcasts.
Here's an example: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/test-podcast/id1667708...
> If I upload a podcast to Apple, it's physically inaccessible unless you have a Mac or an iOS device.
I'm curious if this sort of arrangement will remain in place in Europe once the DMA interoperability requirements come into effect.
I look at the DMA and I start to wonder if all Europe is really going to get out of this is “EU editions” of products; and not just from Apple. They’re certainly a lucrative market, probably deserving of their own SKUs.
Maybe. Note that, like most other US companies, and especially ones accused of espionage, Apple has been illegal in the EU since 2015, though enforcement of this has been understandably foot-dragging.
Apple announced they would allow passthrough hosting for premium feeds a few weeks ago. Right now it's only open to handful of big hosting partners, but will probably open up more in the near future. This was likely more about laziness and/or rushing to market that it was a genuine ploy. Apple is still the bulk of our listening (60ish%) and we still get all the first-party download metrics from our hosting service. Premium feeds are rehosted by Apple and it's huge PITA because we have ad-supported public feeds and ad-free premium feeds and need to build them twice. That will hopefully be fixed soon.
> The DRM applies even if you charge no fee.
Thank you. This is important to call out this, as DRM a paid episode seems a practical solution, but DRM free episode is absolutely taking aways reasonable options from creators and audiences.
> Apple isn't taking away self-hosted RSS podcast feeds. It's presenting a separate paid subscription experience within its Podcasts app. No "audacity" about it. If you don't want that as a creator, don't use it.
It sounded to me like the audacious part was that they don't make it clear that, once you sign up for this service, your users cannot get your podcast in any other way than using Apple Podcasts, and you will never be able to change that. The audacious part is this:
> They say that your podcast will be available to listeners on Apple Podcasts, but they don’t explicitly say that your podcast won’t be available to anyone else. When you upload your audio, they say it will have DRM, but they don’t make it clear what the consequences of this are. They tell you your show won’t have an RSS feed, but they don’t tell you what you’re giving up by not having one. This is predatory.
Which, I agree with the author, is a really, really wild thing to do, which few companies could think they'd get away with. You can just imagine a PM saying "ayy, they don't like it? screw 'em, we're Apple!"
> It sounded to me like the audacious part was that they don't make it clear that, once you sign up for this service, your users cannot get your podcast in any other way than using Apple Podcasts…
You definitely can.
What the author said was, "What I learned is that Apple does not produce an RSS feed for podcasts that they host". But this is misplaced outrage on the author's part, since Apple has never produced RSS feeds.
Every other podcast hosting service in existence provides RSS feeds. But unless you've already done your homework and you're starting a podcast, you don't know why not having one is important.
That's not a comparable situation. Spotify sign contracts with successful podcasters who they pay(> $100 million in one case) to produce content for their platform.
The argument here is that by offering a "Click here to start your [not really a]podcast" button, Apple is suckering in people who don't understand how Apple's iDevice-only offering differs from every other podcast hosting service.
It's actually not clear whether Spotify hosts the content or whether they simply pay for exclusivity.
>they say it will have DRM
I confused what possible definition of 'Digital Rights Management' could entail 'anyone can freely rip your files.'
What about "I can freely rip my own files"? Does the definition preclude that also?
Where does the article mention that? The entire discussion is around a 3rd party using public-facing URLs, not logged in users.
How about 'nobody can freely rip my subscriber only files' but free files are free to be ripped? Seems like a reasonable interpretation to me. Even more reasonably, I might expect that I can freely rip my files regardless of DRM.
The original file creator doesn't have an issue with DRM anyway, since he has the original file.
The whole point of DRM is to try to restrict non-creators from making copies.
(An alternative that I might find acceptable is DRM that is removed after a short amount of time, but it would require laws with heavy fines on the violator companies that would "forget" to leave it up, and also not plan for cases like bankruptcy. )
To be clear - the issue is that you can't rip them from the public facing URL, not that a logged in creator can't download their own files...
>If you're charging a subscription fee then it makes sense that the podcast lives in a walled DRM'ed garden
No, it absolutely does not. In the same way it doesn't make any sense to have DRM on music or anything else I pay for. I'm a paying customer, why should my experience and the product I'm paying for literally be worse then the people who pirate it? This thinking is straight out of the 90s/00s RIAA playbook that Apple themselves played a major role in tearing down! Normal podcast systems charge money and make things member-only just fine with normal RSS and standard sound. If someone wants to save one they got while paying to listen to again later so what?
>Also, if Apple is hosting it for nearly free ($20/year is nothing), why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps?
"Nearly" isn't actually free. It's a paid service, and it's for something that's "nearly free" to provide too by that argument. Why shouldn't it just be standard, with a bit of Apple polish in the interface and tooling and some options for users to add Apple as an intermediary for privacy if they want? This is a dumb, good-will burning approach for peanuts. Anything Apple gets from this isn't worth even having a front page story on HN and a few thousand people noticing and getting just a little bit more irritated. It's a symptom of a company that isn't thinking as holistically as it once did, or more charitably this is such an unimportant thing that it didn't actually get any serious attention and they just built it in a proprietary lazy way out of their current defaults I guess.
> In the same way it doesn't make any sense to have DRM on music or anything else I pay for
You're not buying it, you're renting it. A subscription is a monthly payment, you will no longer have paid access once you choose to stop paying for it. It has DRM for the same reason Spotify, Apple Music, et al. use DRM.
In the context of podcasts where there's a regular stream of episodes, it's perfectly reasonable to say that you have DRM free access to any episode that occurred prior to your subscription ending. It's how every single other podcast subscription service works.
(full disclaimer: I run engineering for a competitive podcast subscription service, Supercast)
Totally agree in principle, but that's not really how the model is presented.
So you think Apple should host podcasts for free out of the goodness of their heart? Apple's a business, not a charity/non-profit.
Podcast hosting for $20/year is a huge bargain. Libsyn's cheapest plan is $5/month with limits on storage. Add in the fact that you're published by one of the largest podcast directories on earth and the value is immense.
I personally don't have any trouble with them charging for hosting. I don't even have a problem with them offering paid subscriptions. I have a problem with them restricting consumption to their own Apple Podcasts app, because that makes the results not a podcast at all. Like Spotify, they're creating on-demand audio shows that require their client to listen to.
> published by one of the largest podcast directories on earth
Is there any actual value in this? I was under the impression anyone could add any external podcast to iTunes for free.
This service doesn't give podcast hosts a way to retrieve their own material. It doesn't inform them that they'll be completely locked into Apple's service. If creators were aware of this upfront, then sure, I'd say "just don't use it" too.
I'm a bit out of the loop but wouldn't hosts have the original source material that they uploaded? Similar to how users have the source images/videos to whatever they upload to TikTok and Instagram? I suspect neither offer an export either.
Additionally, the author complains that an Apple Podcast user has to go through the app (and all its restrictions), but again, not that different from Instagram posts. As a user, you must go through Instagram to see photos. These users aren't there just for generic hosting, but also for the network effects. For those that want generic hosting, there are other more appropriate services, like google photos or maybe Flickr (or self hosting).
I'm not arguing the Podcasts/Instagram model is better, just that there is fairly old precedent, so the purported shock value seems pretty low.
It's perfectly reasonable for a user to pay a big company for hosting, and then delete their local copies, since they paid for hosting. And then assume that, because their data is publicly available, that they'll be able to download that information.
Getting your photos off of Instagram is easy, according to the top 10 search results for "Instagram photo downloader". But even then, the distinction that you're not paying Instagram for hosting is notable.
All the podcasters I know of DON'T delete their master versions, because podcast hosts routinely have issues where they have to re-upload files.
Or your computer crashed and you're having to rebuild from a failed backup. Or you're traveling away from your backups and need access. Or you upload from one device and usually download to your archive on another device. There are more scenarios in heaven and earth than I could possibly list here.
> wouldn't hosts have the original source material that they uploaded
As far as I'm aware, Apple never resurfaces the audio after it's uploaded, even in your dashboard. Even if they did, making someone manually download and reupload every asset for potentially hundreds of episodes is sadistic. Moreover, you physically can't leave, because your listeners won't follow you to your new hosting service.
> These users aren't there just for generic hosting, but also for the network effects.
The network effects are limited to an app with only 40% of the market. Outside the US, that number is even smaller.
> just that there is fairly old precedent
Every podcast hosting service ever has allowed you to leave their service.
As I said, this literally doesn't apply to Apple's own service, as they don't use RSS feeds. It works with every other hosting service.
I'm assuming it wasn't anywhere close to 100% though, which a simple 301 redirect would give you.
Every podcast host I'm aware of would be happy to do that for you.
Except that "pod"casts have always been Apple's ecosystem. They've introduced a new product that is less open, but haven't actually stopped supporting the completely open options that have always existed.
In addition to the audio, there's also show specific metadata like episode names, summaries, and show notes, which can get pretty comprehensive. It would maybe be a smart idea to have a copy of those outside of your hosting provider, but that's not common.
The bigger thing though is less about the data and more about your listeners. If you move to another podcast host, it's obviously important that your existing listeners move with you, and every public podcast host I'm aware of will happily redirect your feeds (as mentioned in the article)
With Apple you have to ask people to move, and asking people to take an action is necessarily going to involve a lot of churn and confusion.
Why would there be any expectation that a podcast distribution service should also serve as a private file archive? And why would podcast hosts even need to retrieve their own material?
If there are podcast hosts who don't hold onto their original audio files they had before uploading them, then what are they thinking? That's like sending a project to a client and then deleting your own copy of it.
I understand that the author tries to provide an "import from Apple Podcasts" service for convenience, but that's merely a convenience. It really shouldn't be too hard for a podcaster to just re-upload their original audio files and descriptions to a new service. Nobody's "locked in" to anything here as far as I can tell.
> It really shouldn't be too hard for a podcaster to just re-upload their original audio files and descriptions to a new service. Nobody's "locked in" to anything here as far as I can tell.
If you reupload your audio to a new hosting service, there's no way to have your listeners move to the new service. The listeners need to physically unsubscribe and resubscribe with a new feed. This is a feature of _every single podcast hosting service_ with the exception of Apple.
If I bought a bunch of apps on my Samsung phone, and then I wanted to switch to an LG phone, but I couldn't transfer my apps or data—despite the phone running the same OS—that's lock-in. If "having to start over if you want to leave" isn't lock-in, I'm not sure what is. It's an artificial limitation that Apple deliberately put in place and didn't make clear to their customers.
This doesn't apply to Apple's own hosting, as there is no RSS feed.
> I understand that the author tries to provide an "import from Apple Podcasts" service for convenience, but that's merely a convenience.
When you run a podcast with thousands or tens of thousands of episodes, each with titles, descriptions, tags, and all other sorts of metadata on top of the mp3, it's not "merely a convenience."
There are no podcasts with tens of thousands of episodes.
And there are very few with thousands. And if you're at that level of professionalism and popularity then you know what you're doing and this article doesn't apply.
> Why would there be any expectation that a podcast distribution service should also serve as a private file archive? And why would podcast hosts even need to retrieve their own material?
If it's a podcast distribution service it should be distributing the rss and mp3s. That's what "podcast" means!
What a weird attitude. "Why would you ever expect [Business X] to offer [Feature Y] that you, as a potential customer, would like to see?"
edit: especially since they are an outlier in the podcast hosting space in this regard!
> why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps?
Because you don't want your audience to be captured by Apple, who can extract rents based on their artificially mediating the relationship with them (through their app and network of podcasts)?
This is like asking "why should you expect a superior business relationship?". Corporate network Stockholm syndrome.
If someone posts something to TikTok, it's available within the TikTok app--but also via Chrome or Safari or Firefox, because every TikTok is available via an HTTPS URL. So yes, it can certainly be linked to on Facebook or anywhere else.
The key issue here is that uploading an audio file to Apple Podcasts Subscriptions makes it available within the Apple Podcasts app--but nowhere else. Not Chrome nor Safari nor Firefox, not Overcast nor Google Podcasts nor any other client. So no, these things are not the same, not even close.
Every podcast ever can be listened to in any podcast client ever, with two exceptions: Spotify's on-demand audio shows that they insist on calling "podcasts," and Apple's on-demand audio shows that they call "Apple Podcast Subscriptions." They are the outliers, and deserve to be shamed for it.
Other solutions for subscriber-only and paid podcast subscriptions exist, but Spotify and Apple are doing their own proprietary things which should not then be called podcasts.
> Also, if Apple is hosting it for nearly free ($20/year is nothing), why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps? If you post something on TikTok it doesn't show up on people's Facebook feeds.
The reason is that podcasts are one of the few protocols that are still largely open and decentralized. Yes, I wouldn't expect my Tiktok videos to be available on Facebook or vice versa, and that's a bad thing because what was previously handled by open protocols was captured entirely by a handful of corporations.
Open protocols are a rare thing on the internet these days, particularly ones that work without much fuss like (podcast) RSS, and they're worth protecting.
>why would you expect Apple to make it available to competing podcast apps?
Because a podcast is an rss feed that links to mp3s. It is an open standard where the user is in control of what client app to use. Anything that breaks this contract is no longer a podcast.
You want to monetize? Follow a structure such as relay.fm where you can subscribe to an authenticated rss feed but still listen in whatever app you want. Or name it something else.
: https://www.relay.fm/membership (No affiliation, just using it as an example of monetizing podcasts that still stays true to what a podcast is)
I listen to hours of podcasts each day (dog-walking, walking, running etc) and am fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem, but the Apple Podcast app is a turkey. Shallow feature set, bugs that never get fixed and an environment that doesn't evolve. It's software that can only be developed by a company that hates its user base. Ugh. I've been using and loving iCatcher for years .
 - https://joeisanerd.com
Overcast really destroys everything else I've used for listening to a podcast. Simple and intuitive UI, customizable streaming/download settings, quickly add any podcast - and that's at the free level. I would never go back to Apple or even Spotify.
I rarely get enthusiastic about apps, but it's awesome when one clearly demonstrates a team having gone 'how can we get this right'?
Just so you know, Overcast is not a team. It's one guy.
The sheer productivity and boundless creativity of this guy is exceptional. Thanks for the mention.
One of the heroes who allowed my teenage musings to be published on Tumblr. It's so wild and fascinating to know that the same single is behind one of the top podcast player app. Source: https://marco.org/2013/05/20/one-person-product
The Overcast feature set is great and it's my podcast app but the UX & UI is just atrocious.
Tried all the common choices for iOS like Overcast and Castro, but settled on Pocket Casts. It’s cross platform and open source (client only) and in my opinion has the best UX. Also the only one with a reliable offline Apple Watch experience back when I tested them.
I bought PocketCasts early on and my account got grandfathered into a lifetime subscription. Also have no plans of switching.
i really just wish overcast had:
- listen history (with stats, so i can know what i spent the most time on and tell them/reward them accordingly)
- good history search (that doesnt keep searching podcasts im not subscribed to)
- good to-listen search (that doesnt keep searching podcasts im not subscribed to)
- would be nice: on device transcription
Can’t speak to the rest of it, but Marco has said that he’s working on something on the “listen history” front after tons of request from people asking for something à la Spotify Wrapped.
The trick is that he’s very adamantly (and correctly imo) opposed to user tracking of almost any kind, which I think complicates things here
Oh for sure, I’m not saying it’s not feasible but I think it’s not unreasonable that people would want this feature to work/sync across multiple devices, and that’s where the much higher complexity comes in since syncing that data reliably using CloudKit seems to be frustrating atm (none of this is my domain at all, just pure speculation based on what I’ve read and recall him saying on podcasts so I could be way off)
+1 for Overcast. Easily my most used app, even more than Music.
My favorite part of Apple podcasts is going to Library | Shows and then having all the show icons rearrange themselves every-time I'm about to click the one I want (as they update).
Only been happening for like 5+ years.
I’ve used the Apple podcasts app to pre-download content for offline listening, only to drive out to the middle of nowhere with no data service only to have the app refuse to load.
It would be much less aggravating to have an app which crashes on launch and never gives the appearance of doing anything, whatsoever.
I've had similar issues with downloading podcasts for offline listening before. One I can reliably hit is:
1. listen to podcast in episode its entirety, podcasts marked it as "listened to"
2. (time passes, if it was cached at all it certainly isn't now)
3. I remember episode, would like to listen on plane/bus/train without eating mobile data. Click the "download" button.
4. download completes, little icon appears showing the file is downloaded
If you assume this means it worked, immediately close the app, you're in for a surprise. Because if you watch, the little "downloaded" icon disappears a second or so after the download finishes, I guess the app goes "oh this was listened to, I can delete the data". What I've found is you need to swipe right (??) to mark the episode as unplayed, then download it.
There's so many silly Apple usability bugs that I encounter - sorry I'm on a roll now so I'll quickly describe my favourite one. The iOS "Clock" app's Timer functionality used to fail to play the selected sound if you set a 30 second timer and didn't touch the device. What happened was the screen was also scheduled to shut off after 30 seconds, and some weirdness caused this to interfere with the sound playing (now fixed, thankfully). I discovered this I was exercising and wanted to do a plank for 30 seconds. What was probably 1 minute later I realised and felt like an idiot :)
HBO Max is the worst offender in this regard. I've downloaded entire seasons of shows only for them to refuse to play without a connection -- after I boarded an airplane.
Broken is better than unreliable.
Awful app. I tried using it because you can use it with the Apple Watch to listen to podcasts without a phone. This is essential for me, because I have a wifi Watch and like to run sans phone.
Apple Podcasts for the Watch apparently will not download any podcast over two hours for offline playback. This limit is not documented anywhere on their website or in any forum. I'm not even sure it's two hours. I just noticed episodes under two hours downloaded, and episodes over two hours didn't.
It is a dealbreaking defect that it cannot download long podcasts. It is also user-hostile and absurd they do not document this limit or at least show an error message.
Apple Podcast app is pure garbage, it doesn’t even sync your library correctly between devices (e.g. marking something as played).
Thank you for pointing out this app! I've been looking for a podcasting app that isn't Apple's and doesn't require you to create an account and store stuff in the cloud. (I just want to access publicly available RSS feeds! How hard is that?)
And man, Apple's Podcast app is terrible. I can't believe how buggy it is, nor can I believe how awful the UI is. It's shocking how bad it is when I compare it to other Apple apps that I love (things like Logic and FCP). Even boring apps like Pages and Numbers are really well made. But they completely dropped the ball on Podcasts and Music. It's bizarre.
"Under the hood, Apple stopped having each device request a copy of RSS feeds."
Yes, because this was creating DDoS levels of traffic to podcast hosting providers. Now Apple simply pings madly away at all known podcast RSS feeds and updates clients when there is a new episode. What would be far greener -- and efficient! -- would be for them to get on board with PodPing to not only deliver feed updates much faster but to use a tiny fraction of the resources they are using now to get it done.
> creating DDoS levels of traffic
Author here. This has never been a problem, both in terms of volume and cost. I host ~0.25% (maybe more? I haven't checked recently) of all podcasts listed on Apple and up to a few years ago, I wasn't even using a CDN. Two Heroku dynos at ~$250/mo (25 customer subscriptions today) running a Python back-end with no caching at all was able to keep up without trouble. In fact, the only reason I added a CDN was Heroku's infrastructure having spooky issues with that volume of traffic.
Podcast hosting providers larger than me running on their own hardware should have (had) exactly zero trouble.
The entirety of all the podcasts on iTunes/Apple Podcasts RSS feeds downloaded is around 200-250GB across the 2.5M+ pods. Hosting the RSS feed should be an easy task. Add in caching via ETag and server-side (host the feed as a static file, only re-render when user updates something), and your server load goes down drastically.
It gets a bit complex if your hosting company supports dynamic audio/ad insertion depending on how you accomplish that, but as far as retrieving the RSS XML feed, that has no impact.
Audio insertion is actually straightforward: the audio URLs from the feed can redirect!
I agree with this. We actually dynamically render RSS feeds (we have some personalization options) and while we've had to optimize it here and there, it doesn't even register as a real cost or problem (streaming MP3 files to listeners is the real cost of hosting podcasts).
I'm interested to see this podping service, however given the whole model of RSS is that the end-user is requesting feed updates (I would guess daily on average, but maybe hourly?), I have a hard time thinking this was a problem for podcast providers. I have no knowledge of the implementation at scale, but given the feed is static for the most part, wouldn't podcast hosting providers want their users constantly checking in?
Depends on the podcast and the users. If I know my favorite afternoon commute podcast drops at 4:30 PM local and I don't see it by 4:45 PM, I'm going to be doing the pull-to-refresh thing frequently, hoping it's available to download before I leave the WiFi at work for my drive home. I suppose Podping plus push notification to all app installs subscribed to the podcast that just updated would be another way to do it.
> I'm going to be doing the pull-to-refresh thing frequently
Such refreshs would be using If-Modified-Since, so shouldn’t cause substantial traffic.
Would podcast hosting providers rather get an engineer that knows how to handle that traffic and get all the tracking and ID data of a device that they can communicate to their advertisers or have Apple make their lives easier but their service less valuable?
Apple reality distortion to claim this is positive for them.
Why the hell that stupid thing would need blockchain for?
Yeah. WebSub works great. The only listed reason is that subscriptions only last 15 days which isn't true. There is no hard limit in the protocol, it just depends on the hub and clients limits.
I remember having an iMac with 3TB hard disk on which I stored all my CDs ripped in an lossless format. iTunes had an option to stream the library to local network and since this iMac was on 24/7, this was a perfect solution for me to have an audio-NAS and also kind-of remote streaming when I was connecting via VPN to my home network.
Than there came Tim Cook's "upgrades": OS X was renamed to macOS, iTunes to Music, and Apple blocked LAN-related options which came with purchased devices.
At the same time Apple asked me to pay for the same functionality and their ecosystem's attractiveness started getting shittier. Since then, with similar actions, Tim Cook switched increasingly more of my activities from Apple's increasingly-hostile and toxic ecosystem to almost anywhere else.
I think what you experienced is a shift in philosophy at Apple and rot by low maintenance. In the early 2000s Apple's approach seemed to be having your computer be "the hub" and things could sync or stream from your computer (like your iPod requiring a computer). That seemed to cause problems when you had multiple computers, take your devices away from home, requiring your computer to be on and connected, requiring you to own a computer to use devices, etc. They seemed to abandon that for awhile and later shift to the cloud being the hub...along with ongoing subscriptions.
Apple seem to believe what you’re talking about is supported via Home Sharing . I have attempted to get this to work with a little success but I wonder if it was too little too late for you?
Too late. I have called Apple's support when they did this and they told me that there was no way to still use such functionality without paying for online Apple Music. They would serve me copies of some of my previously LAN-shared music from the internet.
For some reasons, which I don't recall, it was supposed to be some - not all - music from my original CDs, ripped by me under law allowing to have digital copies of owned audio CDs.
Home Sharing covers some of it, but the limitations of requiring everything physically on the same network and logged into the same Apple ID sound way more stringent.
Even for a family for instance, it means they'd all have to share the same ID, which would be a royal PITA, especially if you're setting parental controls for the kids.
You can have multiple people in your family share different things from their devices. When I go to home sharing in the TV.app, I see both my computer and my spouse's.
When I was in college, there were always some people on the network who would leave their iTunes wide open, and that was how I discovered new music to listen to.
The best part is how Apple Podcasts had a 1.x star rating in the App Store so they gamed the system in a way that would get any other app kicked off - they prompted people for reviews making them think they were rating specific podcasts and not the app
> We weren’t able to track down a copy of the prompt ourselves to confirm when and where it appears or what it looks like — which seems important if people are getting confused […]
This is speculation presented as news. The confusion certainly appears to be real, but there's no actual investigative reporting.
It’s not speculation just because they don’t have a photo of the prompt (of which I’ve received personally) - the story is in plain sight in the ratings themselves, go have a look.
Here’s another article from an apple friendly source
EDIT: Actually - found a screenshot mid-podcast: https://i.imgur.com/dnqcAbQ.jpeg
The screenshot you posted is the same format as review prompts for every app I've seen one on. It's literally just "Enjoying <app name>?". Sure, they could go the extra mile to disambiguate for those that aren't familiar, but this is pretty simple stuff.
Is that prompt confusing? It says outright that you're rating the app in the app store.
The fact that some people don't read before clicking isn't something I'm going to hold against Apple. The prompt isn't a block of legalese, and it doesn't claim in any way to be asking to rate the specific podcast.
My delivery tracking app has popped up the same screen asking me to rate it, but I've never figured it was asking me to rate my UPS driver.
This is just the standard alert from the SKStoreReviewController API that any app can use.
Reading this, I get the impression that someone at Apple tried to do the market capture playbook tactics (churn prevention, competitor lockout, first-party-favoritism) in an open world (podcasts). Obviously it doesn’t work, while eroding the underlying ecosystem.
The smart move by Apple is to keep podcasts open, keep being the de facto provider, don’t bother making money from it now, and use it as a foot-in-the-door as the web evolves for future plays.
> keep being the de facto provider,
They are already in the process of losing that.
> Spotify overtook Apple Podcasts as the biggest US podcast platform in 2021, when the Swedish company drew 28.3 million monthly US podcast listeners, about 200,000 more than its rival did.
Spotify, with it's own walled garden podcasts without RSS feeds, that can only be listened to with spotify app.
There is definitely something going on in podcasts, and it's bigger than Apple.
Maybe Apple could resist it by trying to keep podcasts open, like you suggest? Or maybe they'd just go down with the ship? Apple is clearly trying to beat Spotify at the walled garden game though, not try to figure out how to make money from openness. The walled garden game (and the analytics and ad placement you get from having more control of podcasts than just supplying RSS feeds to them) are way more profitable for the central platforms -- if not for the podcast producers, and who even cares about the podcast listeners?
I have produced a weekly podcast about amateur radio since 2011. It was hosted on S3 since I started because it became immediately clear that any other option would put my content under the control of someone who did not have my best interest at heart.
Today it's mirrored across dozens of aggregators, converted to eBooks, converted to Morse Code, uploaded to YouTube, posted on social media, emailed to listeners and included in magazine articles and news broadcasts across the globe. All the content is still under my direct control.
As for making money, not so much. I'd have to check my accounts for an exact number, but $500 over that time is about right.
It highlights to me that someone is making money from podcasting, but that someone is not me and I doubt it's any different for the vast majority of podcast producers.
I think as a society we need to figure out how content creators can be remunerated for their efforts and not perpetuate the current model where "facilitators" in all their varied guises make all the money.
I've thought a lot about this, and I still scratch my head over what might work. The system I think kinda fits is bug bounties. Someone registers a problem, a need, and submits a reward for filling it. Others who have that problem can add to the pot, and eventually someone can claim the pot by filling the request, with the fruits of that labor available to all.
But, there are obvious holes here. Like what constitutes "filling that request". In the context of actual bug bounties, at the minimum the bug goes away. For something like a painting? A podcast?
Honestly I don't know! I want endeavors like yours to be fairly compensated for the value it adds to society, but the core of our society and how we transact is rooted in scarcity. Data isn't scarce. Novelty is. Attention is. But not data.
I need a beautiful sunset" - "Here's this photo of the sun setting that I took outside the safeway" - - "nah." - "Here's this hand crafted lovingly painted canvas I made over the course of 3 weeks" - - "nah. (but I'll just save a copy of that thanks)"
I've noticed Apple is destroying their brand equity in so many ways just to squeeze out as much from their customers as possible. Having advertisements in my iPhone settings just shows how petty they are willing to be. I used to use their TV app but now it's first purpose is an advertisement for Apple TV+.
I stopped using Apple Podcasts because 1) they killed connectivity to my iPod; 2) the app is extremely buggy; and 3) the app is totally unusable.
I only use Apple Podcasts to automatically sync a couple of podcasts onto my Apple Watch. The rest of the time I use Overcast. But that Apple Watch sync feature is a compelling use case.
I primarily listen to Podcasts on my Mac, been using the default Apple one... which works, but it feels very much like a half baked copy from the iPad app.
Sadly no Overcast on Mac, anyone found a good podcast player for Mac? (paid or free)
Edit: Little things like pressing left/right arrows does nothing in the app. (just want to skip around the podcast ads). Buggy UI (as I type this, the volume slider in the app is greyed out.. but still works). Also there doesn't appear to be any timer, to stop the podcast after x minutes. (I sure it used to do this)
There is Overcast on Mac for Apple silicon devices
Yes; you can install most iPhone/iPad software on Apple Silicon devices, since they more or less share the same core.
It's the iPad app but it works well enough on macOS
Spotify podcasts don't have RSS feeds either. And have massively expanded their podcast program over the past few years, such that they know serve more podcast listeners than Apple.
But this is the play several big players are involved in make to try to convert podcasts into walled gardens.
The OP is really sniping around the edges of a major thing that's going on, which Apple is actually playing catch-up on.
Well, the old-timers (such as me) don't really like what Spotify are doing either. A "podcast", in our view, conforms to a de-facto standard, the RSS feed. This is what ensures its openness. You have choices about where to host it. Your listeners have choices of where to consume it.
Of course, I agree, I don't like any of it. And it's going on with or without Apple, they are playing catch-up not driving it.
I am not saying this to "excuse" Apple, I'm interested in no such thing. My point is that stopping Apple wouldn't stop it.
I don't know how to stop it. It's sad.
But I don't listen to spotify podcasts, even when some of my favorites get absorbed by them.
There are ways to get the off files and create your own rss, because their player is sh*t … i Heard ;-)
> Apple is letting people pay $20/year for the privilege of being locked into an ecosystem run by people who think that they’re the best thing since the transistor radio. They make it virtually impossible to leave, even when they offer no meaningful value-add to folks who have outgrown their meager offering.
Sounds like a lot of what Apple does!
> Under the hood, Apple stopped having each device request a copy of RSS feeds. Instead, Apple’s servers would request the feed once, and the Apple Podcasts app on your Mac or iOS device would ping Apple for episode updates. On one hand, you could argue this is a good thing (more anonymous if you trust Apple, significant bandwidth savings for hosting services). On the other hand, it means that you now need to trust that Apple isn’t going to fuck with the podcasts you listen to.
Other podcast clients (like Overcast) started doing this long before Apple. If you want to do timely notifications for new episodes, synchronisation, waste less power on the phone doing useless polling, etc., this is a fairly obvious thing to do.
And if you’re using Apple’s Podcast app, the server-side crawling changes nothing wrt. their ability to “fuck with” podcasts. They could’ve done that client-side too.
> 40% is nothing to shake a stick at. If you entered the podcasting space (like Spotify did) and captured 40% of users, you’d have an amazing product.
Didn't Spotify spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get exclusive rights to podcasts (Joe Rogan comes to mind)? That isn't very innovative, and it actively reduces the choice and competition in the marketplace.
Good for Joe Rogan though (allegedly) getting $200+ million out of Spotify.
Good for Joe. Bad for Spotify users. I would personally much rather they invested in fixing bugs and UI problems with $200 million... than acquiring one (highly controversial, increasingly irrelevant) podcast.
As someone who doesn't particularly like Rogan's work (no offense to anyone who does!), I guess I'm glad Spotify hastened his decline by walling him off in their private garden.
I’m surprised there hasn’t been more public outcry by hosters about this. This is a huge affront to how the podcast ecosystem works.
Well this is going to be a problem for podcastsaver as well.
What s scummy move by Apple, the nice thing about podcasts is that it’s a very open technology — all you needed was RSS.
Syndicate with apple but don’t host your data exclusively there.
I'm sorry but you'd have to be a fool to host your podcast on Apple.... I'm shocked that Apple's podcast hosting ever had an option to export the data. I've never used Apple podcasting services for listening because it always seemed like a huge pain designed to lock you in. There's plenty of free Podcast apps out there. And IMHO -- if it doesn't have an RSS feed it's not a podcast. (Looking at you, Patreon Substack Spotify Rokfin etc)
Patreon and Substack do have RSS feeds available.
It seems bizarre to me that any serious podcast would fail to retain:
- Their own backups of their master audio
- Separate uploads to competing services with significant market share (e.g. Spotify)
It's not really surprising that Apple DRM-locks the audio files pulled from their podcast service. They should have messaged that better, but Apple has DRM locked everything coming from their music services for a very long time.
I think the author's point would be that Apple is doing this to non-serious or not-serious-yet podcasters.
Let he who is without a data loss event cast the first "their own backups" stone.
Given that nobody else DRMs podcast audio, this is deeply surprising.
Without having used their service, does Spotfiy not DRM their podcast audio? It seems weird that they'd have a separate code path to fetch a non-DRM'd file from their server when most (all?) of the music they serve is already DRM'd.
Even if you did retain the audio files, you still can't move your listeners to a new hosting service. You're forced to start over. Making you manually reupload your audio just adds insult to injury.
I was recently on a long drive and, if I had started listening to a podcast, then listened to something else, then tried to resume the podcast, it wouldn’t play. I tried multiple episodes, marking it as played, restarting the app, and restarting the phone and still couldn’t resume.
Funnily enough, the podcast was ATP, wherein Marco Arment frequently discusses his podcast app Overcast.
How does this relate to the thousands of podcasts that are listed in the iTunes podcast directory and that are freely playable on any podcast app on any platform?
Is this for a special set of podcasts that are using Apple's system to manage access to paid subscriptions? If that is the case, then this seems reasonable.
This is unrelated to the vast majority of shows that just use Apple as a directory
This is bad behavior, antithetical to the spirit of podcasting. Offering DRM for paid subscriptions, or as an option, is one thing, but requiring it whether the podcast host wishes it or not is not defensible.
Would love to see the whiteboards at Apple showing all the flow chart strategies to trap people with DRM.
So Apple is offering a podcast hosting service, but it uses some proprietary thing instead of RSS and DRM's the audio so other podcast clients can't play them, and the podcast owner can't easily switch to a different podcast host (including one that this post's author runs). It doesn't tell the podcast owner that. I have never used a podcast, so is this all correct?
If so, I agree this is a deliberately snaky move on Apple's part.
This is pretty clearly Apples attempt to create a Patreon podcast competitor & refers to the “Apple Podcasters Program” . It’s not designed to host regular, free feeds in the traditional RSS style, quite deliberately. When signing up it is made very clear that there is no RSS feed & what the perks/restrictions of joining are.
The DRM, the fact there’s no RSS feed, the initial hosting cost - it all stems from the fact this is a service designed to host paid podcasts that subscribers can pay to access - of course it’s going to be closed off and restricted…
The header on the documentation page reads “Join the Apple Podcasters Program to start selling your subscriptions on Apple Podcasts”.
The article is poorly researched at best and likely thinly disguised marketing for the authors service, knowing most will just take them at their word without digging into the specifics of these ridiculous criticisms.
Each apple product is designed this way. It is designed to lock people in and make people conform to the apple certified way. That's what made me leave the eco system. I'll never buy anything from Apple again. I thought everybody knew by now what apple does.
Weird, I've extracted Podcasts from my iPhone's backup, which I can play on any device.
Also, the Apple Podcast app shows you episodes that are subscription only, and you cannot mark them as 'played', they stay there, on top, taunting you...
The Podcast Index is created to preserve, protect and extend the open, independent podcasting ecosystem: https://podcastindex.org/
To use Doctorow's term: the "enshittification" of Apple Podcasrs
>What I learned is that Apple does not produce an RSS feed for podcasts that they host. That’s right: if you host your show with Apple, the only listeners you can have are folks with the Apple Podcasts app. This feels like an absolutely wild choice from a product perspective; it’s the mindset of a company who still thinks that they have dominance over the podcasting world. It’s ludicrous to assume that it’s a good thing for listeners to have to have specific hardware in order to listen to a podcast.
Spotify is doing the same thing and has been for years. Nobody seemed to care about it then?
>if you host your show with Apple, the only listeners you can have are folks with the Apple Podcasts app. This feels like an absolutely wild choice from a product perspective; it’s the mindset of a company who still thinks that they have dominance over the podcasting world.
I'd guess the opposite, it's the mindset of a company that feels they lost dominance over the podcasting world and are trying to hold on what's left.
> even choosing to download the audio in Apple Podcasts makes it available for offline listening, but doesn’t produce an MP3 or M4A file that you can move around or archive—it retains its DRM.
Can this be solved by use of, e.g. Audio Hijack? (https://rogueamoeba.com/audiohijack/)
I have a Wiim Mini, which is an Airplay receiver (which supports high-bitrate playback) with analog outs (so you can connect it to older stereo equipment). If an all-software solution won't work, you can still rely on the analog hole.
I think some of these issues stem from the paid subscriptions part (especially the lack of an RSS feed). I'm not very familiar with RSS, but is there a solution for authenticated RSS yet?
The authentication could be used to validate that you're a subscriber, and push out subscriber-only content, allowing creators to monetize in more ways while also keeping the platform open.
There are specs. Notably the folks at RadioPublic put one out a few years ago that would standardize the process, but it never panned out. At Pinecast you get a unique feed URL that's tied to a paid subscription, but that's a bit hard to use, unfortunately.
Perhaps there were special deals in place for high profile podcasts?
I’ve never used the Apple Podcast app, and only learned about the Apple only features while listening to John Carreyrou‘s podcast during the Theranos trial. They had member only episodes (paid) which were only accesible using Apple’s app, but they also had a public RSS feed which excluded those members only episodes.
I don't know why anyone is surprised. Apple's entire business model is trapping unwitting potential customers.
Aren't there ways to ummm... "circumvent" Apple's DRM?
Given that the people migrating the podcasts are the actual copyright owners, that should not even be illegal? (But I am not an expert.)
By looking online I see some random software for removing Apple's FairPlay, but it's all commercial.
Is it Apple Podcasts Subscriptions?
I don't use their app (Overcast for iOS is great!), so I wasn't familiar with any of this, but most of their site seems focused on the usual podcast stuff, same as it has been for a long time. When I started digging to find the bad behavior, I eventually came across this page about subscriptions.
Is the idea that people who have an existing podcast and are tired of paying the S3 or OVH bill (or whatever) look into this "Apple Podcasts Subscriptions" service and it says right up top you can offer your podcast for free. So they click through to the pricing page and see that they can sign up for $20/year and keep offering their show for free, and it isn't clear on the publicly-available pages I've linked so far that this is going to break your podcast, making it no longer freely available everywhere.
It's possible that's buried somewhere in the fine print, and given how many lawyers Apple employs, I'd be shocked if it's not. Still, this is BAD behavior, a bait-and-switch.
It's possible to offer podcasts by subscription. Even on their own list of hosting providers they mention Blubrry, Libsyn, Omny, and RSS.com, all of which do that. (Most of them charge more than $20/year for hosting, too.) But critically, all of those still offer a feed so you can listen in the app of your choice. Once you take away the feed and lock it down to only your app, you're not producing a podcast anymore. You're producing an on-demand audio show, like Spotify does.
I get the appeal. Spotify and Apple both can say "using our app, you can listen to any podcast, PLUS a bunch of shows exclusive to us!" But of course, Spotify's exclusives can't be listened to in Apple Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts exclusives can't be listened to in Spotify, because they're not actually podcasts at that point.
Apple should know better. They're usually better than this. Shame on Apple.
> Sure enough, opening the m3u8 playlist, there is Apple Fairplay DRM info.
This is just straight up egregious. They are encoding your freely distributed content with their DRM. Without offering any method of removing it. Surely there is some licencing issue there.
Watch the classic Apple "Rip, Mix, Burn" commercial.
I find it really odd that one would have all their audio in a cloud service, that they use to send out that podcast. I've got mine on my local computer. I upload those, but I keep the masters.
The single reason my podcast Merged is not on Apple yet is because it’s too damn hard to register to Apple Podcasts. Apple missed out on podcasts and left Spotify to make the big numbers and money.
I was interested to read the article and comments here because I am a very happy user of Apple Podcasts, but had not thought about the service from a content creator standpoint.
One question I had is: if you want to make money from a podcast, is it really so bad to just pick one platform like Apple Podcasts, or YouTube, or, etc.?
As a small business, isn’t having one simple to use platform pretty good?
Also, I have experienced ‘free’ access to one Premium podcast, and I never minded that I only got to listen to part of it. That was Sam Harris’s podcast, and I would be surprised if that was an Apple exclusive, so how does that work?
Off topic, but: I love the Apple Podcast service. I only subscribe to about ten podcasts, but that is enough for lots of good content, and I wear an Apple Watch and almost always have my AirPods with me, so the podcasts are always easy to get to.
Author here. I run pinecast.com, which offers paid subscriptions for Podcasters as one of the features. You can do what Apple does without looking yourself to one platform. Pinecast is hardly the only service that offers this, as well.
Without understanding DRM that well, I’m wondering if there are analog workarounds. You can’t encrypt a sound wave between the speaker and the eardrum.
You can absolutely record the sound in realtime, but you're also losing fidelity in that recording. It's obviously not as bad as not having the audio at all, but if you're trying to capture it to upload to another provider then the experience your 2nd-provider audience gets is not as good as the 1st(Apple)-provider.
> Here’s what’s fucked: once you’ve started using Apple for hosting, you’re stuck.
The fundamental misunderstanding is that Apple is not hosting the source RSS feed or media. As someone who operates a podcast hosting service, it's bizarre to me that the author doesn't understand this.
> This customer was pasting their Apple listing URL, but the import tool was not getting a feed back.
Of course, because it's not an RSS feed URL. And again, I'm shocked that this person doesn't understand the difference.
> The fundamental misunderstanding is that Apple is not hosting the source RSS feed or media. As someone who operates a podcast hosting service, it's bizarre to me that the author doesn't understand this.
Please Google the Apple Podcasters Program, launched in 2021. This absolutely exists and is distinct from shows that they only list in their directory. They absolutely host the source material. I signed up for it myself to test!
> Of course, because it's not an RSS feed URL. And again, I'm shocked that this person doesn't understand the difference.
Apple exposes a public API that returns the listing metadata given the podcast ID (extracted from the end of the listing URL). That contains the RSS feed URL. You can test this with a service like getrssfeed.com. Other hosts like Transistor also offer this convenience.
Perhaps you should do a little more keeping up with the podcast industry if you're one of my competitors? ;)
> They absolutely host the source material. I signed up for it myself to test!
Technically you're right, which everyone knows is the best kind — the transcoded and DRM encrypted audio has to live somewhere.
If you want to call that "hosting" that's fine, but "podcast hosting" usually means what you presumably do — RSS feeds pointing to standards-based, unencrypted audio (and even video) files.
What Apple "hosts" is a transformed, proprietary distribution format, which enables the kinds of use cases that Apple Podcasters Program unlocks.
I’m sure they do understand, but it breaks their (clients’) use case of migrating a podcast from Apple to their service by using Apple as the source. Their clients may still have the original media, but it is missing the podcast metadata (episode descriptions etc.) that was presumably entered/authored using Apple’s system, making it difficult to associate that metadata back to the original media in an automated fashion.
They also describe not being able to download the content they uploaded.
That makes me wonder if they aren’t keeping their own original files… that would be strange too.
Wait -- there are podcasts you just can't listen to if you don't have an Apple device? That's beyond absurd.
There are also podcasts you can only listen to on Spotify. Also absurd.
Enough podcasts to listen to that aren't on any of these platforms.
Give me RSS or death.
If it's not primarily available on RSS, it's a not a podcast IMO. I prefer to call Spotify exclusives "Spodcasts."
There’s also a growing number of podcasts you can only listen to if you subscribe to Amazon Music.
Technically you can listen to them using iTunes for Windows, but it's still absurd. It's a closed system, which podcasting should not be.
More great fodder for the antitrust trials.
Would GDPR request under Article 15 work to get your data out?
Apple Podcasts does not have a silence-trimming feature, which is reason enough to not use it.
It would be nice if you could have a single podcast RSS backend with multiple client apps, like you can with text RSS.
Almost every podcast client has OPML export there is no need for a single backend to host that. Such a service would like end up awful, like Feedly
Sure there is. For example if you want to use one client on one platform, another client on another. I want not just my subscriptions to be updated on an ongoing basis between two unrelated clients, but play position and play/unplayed to sync.
That said with RSS I just use NetNewsWire which does local crawling of my feeds, and it updates its state via iCloud. But I'd definitely want a web interface if I needed one to access my feeds on a work computer or something.
I deliberately don't use any of Apple's services, even though I own an iPhone. The only thing I use is the App Store, and even then I'm a minimalist as to what I install. If I want to listen to podcasts, I use the VLC Player app, and grab the podcast from the Podcast's official site, and then use iTunes to transfer the .MP3 to VLC, over USB.
Cause I'm oldskool like that. If the podcast in question doesn't have a site where I can download episodes at my leisure, I send a friendly e-mail to the podcast asking them to provide downloadable MP3s so I can avoid the vendor lock-in of Apple and other companies (who also build a profile of your listening habits, because they chant they need it for 'improvements to our service').
I appreciate the sentiment of not wanting to give into vendor lock-in for convenience but why manually download podcasts and go through the whole process when you can use RSS and ask podcasters to keep supporting RSS feeds?
You get good ergonomics while still keeping the process decentralized and without vendor lock-ins?
I agree-- RSS feeds are wonderful. I just wish more podcasts kept a complete feed. I'm a "completionist" and it turns me off when I have to scrape episode archive pages to get download links for past episodes that have dropped off the RSS feed. That's the biggest barrier for me to start listening to a new podcast.
I own an iPhone but also don't use Apple's built-in functionality unless the feature supports standards-based services can self-host (CalDAV, IMAP, etc).
I pull podcasts into my forked version of tt-rss and use a script to pull down the enclosures onto my local webserver. I play the episodes using Safari (which, admittedly, is a sub-optimal experience) on my iPhone. (In my dreams I'd write an HTML5 front-end to play episodes, mark them to retain after listening, keep bookmarks, etc...)
I feel you. Even though I am more okay with the transience of the feeds.
I have a similar setup but running on my cloud VM and using my custom scripts and apps. I have built a CLI client but not gotten around to mobile apps yet. Hope to finish work on a proper self hosted server and a suite of applications for desktop and mobile for the same and open source it.
You do realize that most podcasts are MP3s that you can download, and that podcasting uses RSS to notify clients? The way you're doing it is worse than the way Stallman reads email...
That is so much work to go through when you could just buy an android instead of an iphone!
I don't see how this could possibly provide you any benefit besides some sort of glib satisfaction. You don't want to support apple but still give them money to use their devices.
Using iTunes to move files is just as much "using Apple services" as just using Apple's podcast app. All you have accomplished is making life harder for yourself.