by Timothy Paul Brown, My Apple Podcast
According to a variety of sources, Podcasts are experiencing a resurgence, and more people are beginning to appreciate the value of this medium. This is largely due to the success of the iPhone, which has helped to increase accessibility to podcasts.
WHAT ARE PODCASTS?
Podcasts are audio and video recordings attached to a web feed that people can subscribe to. Sources like iTunes function as a portal or aggregator for finding podcasts and subscribing to them. And guess what? They are FREE!
FOR YEARS NOW, APPLE HAS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN POPULARIZING PODCASTS
On June 28, 2005, Apple issued a press release titled APPLE TAKES PODCASTING MAINSTREAM to announce iTunes version 4.6 and the introduction of PODCASTS which were featured alongside the music selections in iTunes.
Seven years later, in June 2012, Apple introduced PODCASTS, a standalone app for the iPhone and iPad. The significance of this development was largely due to the success of the iPhone, which has been instrumental in bringing podcasts to the masses.
Podcasts now comes pre-installed on iPhones, so potentially every iPhone user has access to podcasts. If you happen to be one of them, this blog post will help you understand the basic features.
The Podcasts app is a purple icon with the familiar broadcasting symbol on the front. When you open the app you will find a menu of options along the bottom.
Let’s start with the FEATURED tab. Here you can browse through featured podcasts by swiping across with your finger or scrolling up and down. If you want to discover the more popular podcasts, select TOP CHARTS on the bottom menu.
When you find a podcast you like, tap on your selection. You will then come to a page that provides a description of the podcast, REVIEWS, and a tab for RELATED podcasts. When you find something you like, click SUBSCRIBE.
If you want to find a specific podcast that is not available in the FEATURED or TOP CHARTS sections, use the SEARCH tab on the bottom menu. Your search results will appear as PODCASTS or PODCAST EPISODES.
Each recording is called an EPISODE because they are typically offered as part of a sequence. On average, podcasters will update their PODCAST FEED on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis.
If you want to locate the podcasts you have subscribed to, select the tab MY PODCASTS on the bottom menu. Here you will find a list of your subscriptions. The UNPLAYED tab on the far left will display all unplayed episodes associated with your subscriptions.
When you select a podcast, you will find two tabs, one for UNPLAYED episodes and one for the FEED. The UNPLAYED tab will display the most recent episode. The FEED will list all the episodes associated with that podcast.
To play an episode, select the area that comprises the title and description. The podcast will play as an audio or video recording. If you select a video podcast, a video will begin to play at the top half of your screen, with the title and playback controls on the bottom. To the left and right of the PLAY button, you will find two buttons for fast-forwarding or rewinding the recording in 15 second intervals. The 1X to the far left can be selected to change the pace of the recording to 1/2, 1 1/2, and twice the speed level. The MENU icon on the far right will let you see what is currently playing and what is scheduled to play next.
At the bottom left is the familiar SHARE icon that allows you to share the podcast as an EMAIL, TEXT MESSAGE, or to SOCIAL MEDIA. The MOON icon provides a list of options for adding a timer to your listening experience that ranges from 5 minutes to one hour. When the timer ends the podcast will stop playing.
The three dots at the far right will bring up a pop-UP menu that presents the following options: PLAY NEXT, ADD TO UP NEXT, DOWNLOAD EPISODE or alternatively REMOVE DOWNLOAD, MARK AS UNPLAYED, SAVE EPISODE, VIEW FULL DESCRIPTION, AND SHARE EPISODE.
And finally, continuing with playback controls is a scroll bar for controlling the volume level and adjacent to that an airplay icon for mirroring your podcast on an Apple TV.
When you select an audio podcast, the audio will begin to play and you will have two options as a visual reference. The first option will be the minimized version, which will display the podcast as a banner along the bottom of the screen with the title and episode information. When you tap on the banner, the audio podcast will launch full screen, displaying the podcast artwork above and the playback controls below. Tap once on the artwork to reveal the episode description and tap again to return to the artwork.
MANAGING YOUR FEEDS
There are steps you can take to make your podcast listening experience more manageable and enjoyable. Let’s revisit the drop down menu that appears when the three dots are selected. The three dotted icon can be found at the bottom right when the podcast is minimized or launched full screen. It can also be found next to each podcast listing under the feed tab.
PLAY NEXT lets you to select an episode from any podcast and schedule it to play immediately after the current episode. If you change your mind and select another podcast to play, you will receive a pop-up message that will give you the option to KEEP UP NEXT or CLEAR UP NEXT. The other option ADD TO UP NEXT allows you to add additional episodes to the UP NEXT LISTING.
Next is DOWNLOAD EPISODE. With this option, you can download an episode for offline listening. This option does not require Wi-Fi or the use of your cellular network; the files are stored locally on your device. After you have downloaded an episode, you will also have an option to REMOVE DOWNLOAD when selecting the three-dotted icon.
MARK AS UNPLAYED will display a tiny full circle in light blue just to the left of the podcast title. The circle will disappear when podcast is completed or appear as a half-moon when partially completed.
SAVE EPISODE is feature that is similar to DOWNLOAD but serves a slightly different purpose. Like the download option, the file will download for offline viewing, yet this option will also add it to a special SAVED tab which will appear as a third option on the menu bar. You will also notice that a tiny iPhone icon will appear to the left of the Podcast title.
You will also notice a settings icon at the top of each podcast. you will find a SETTINGS tab for sorting episodes, and changing the status for SUBSCRIBED and NOTIFICATIONS.
Under the section, ON THIS IPHONE, you can set how often you want to refresh podcasts, limit the number of episodes you want to appear in the unplayed section, download the most recent episode, or you can choose to turn on the option to delete episodes after twenty-four hours.
Podcasts are streamed using an internet connection, and the use of Wi-Fi or your cellular network. If you want to manage how much data you want to use for podcasts, you can choose the option to listen to podcasts offline. And finally, under the MY PODCASTS TAB, you can select the edit button at the top right to remove podcasts by tapping on the red minus button and you can change the order of your podcasts by tapping the three horizontal bars to the right and moving your selection up and down.
And that’s it for my review of Apple's Podcasts app. You can also find my review on YouTube. Try it out! You may discover a ton of resources right at your finger tips.
Host of My Apple Podcast.