Apple and Google are changing the way you listen to podcasts


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Hello Hot Podgers, Amrita and Ariel! Today we’re bringing you a co-highlighted issue of the newsletter, mostly out of necessity. We’ve got plenty of news to look forward to: Apple takes a big step toward unifying its audio apps, Google Podcasts gets defeated by YouTube Music, and Spotify launches a new AI tool for podcasters .

Google Podcasts is dead, long live YouTube Music

Well, it was predictable. On Tuesday morning, YouTube announced it would be shutting down Google Podcasts as it focuses its efforts on making YouTube Music a podcast destination. The app will be closed next year.

“As part of this process, we’ll help Google Podcasts users move to podcasts in YouTube Music,” the company’s blog post reads. “This matches what listeners and podcasters are already doing: According to Edison, about 23% of weekly podcast users in the U.S. say YouTube is their most-used service, while Google is the only service they use for podcasts. Is 4%.”

Things were already looking difficult for standalone podcast apps in January, when Google Podcast embeds disappeared from search results. When YouTube Podcasts head Kai Chu and Google Podcasts product lead Steve McLendon announced YouTube Music’s move into podcasts at the Hot Pod Summit in February, they claimed the plan was to still keep Google Podcasts.

“YouTube and Google Podcasts… are really different products, and they serve different users,” McLendon said at the summit. “Google Podcasts is a traditional RSS podcaster. YouTube is not that… so Google Podcasts is unchanged.”

But in August, YouTube announced in the podcast movement that it would support RSS by the end of this year. Once that happens, Google Podcasts will virtually become unnecessary. According to the blog post, YouTube will offer a migration tool for Google Podcasts users.

It’s a smart move to consolidate podcast listening, but the figure the company cited in its blog (23 percent of podcast listeners use YouTube versus 4 percent use Google Podcasts) is a bit misleading. Yes, YouTube is the top podcast platform, as study after study has shown. But it is not like YouTube Music. Here’s a strategy to get podcast listeners to YouTube Music, where they can potentially convert into paying customers. (Where have we seen this before?) It’s not a bad strategy, but the company needs to get serious about investing in the product if it wants to keep users from just Googling podcasts and watching regular old ads—supported by YouTube. .

Apple Podcasts wants to be more than just a podcast app

There is a certain type of person who likes to listen to podcasts on their podcast app, meditations on their meditation app, language lessons on their language app, etc. Apple would love to convince that person to start using its Podcasts app for everything: It appears the app is headed toward a future where it’s an all-in-one destination for almost everyone. Premium non-music audio content.

On the heels of the iOS 17 update, a new, refreshed Apple Podcasts was unveiled today that can link third-party subscriptions to a variety of lifestyle and news apps, including bloombergcurio, sleep cycle, economist, and others. Subscribers to Apple Music, Apple News Plus, meditation app Calm, and kids’ education app LingoKids will also be able to listen to their original audio through the Apple Podcasts app.

The end result is an Apple Podcasts that no longer looks like the bare-bones podcast player of 2010 and more like, well, Spotify. Your podcasts are still there – and still front and center – but you may be seeing the beginning of an expanded universe of “audio content.”

Most subscriber content from third-party apps should appear automatically, or users can choose to manually connect their subscriptions on the app’s Channels page on Apple Podcasts. This feature was created when Apple added paid podcast subscriptions to Apple Podcasts in 2021. However, there’s still one big omission: paid audiobooks remain in Apple Books.

“With the ability to connect subscriptions to top apps, Apple Podcasts has become the best way for listeners to access multiple forms of premium audio content – ​​podcasts, news briefs, narrated articles, radio shows with full music, educational Courses, guided meditations, sleep sounds, and much more – all in one place,” the company said in its announcement.

This kind of purposeful shift in other types of audio programming by the company putting the “pod” in “podcast” is a sign that Apple has a different view of podcast consumers than perhaps most people in the industry. While the view supported by survey data is that listeners prefer a standalone app for podcasts, it’s clear that the biggest companies that control this sector either don’t share this view – or they don’t think it matters. keeps.

At the end of the day, the goal of companies like Apple, Amazon, and Spotify is to get consumers to spend as much time as possible on their apps. For a company like Apple, which controls both the hardware and software you use to listen to podcasts, another goal could be for consumers to no longer distinguish between the two. Indeed, customers can access their third-party content from Apple Podcasts on Apple devices outside of their iPhone, including iPad, Mac, HomePod, Apple Watch, and CarPlay. Wherever you are and wherever you go, the audio programming of your choice will be available on demand. Ultimately, the specific method of delivery may be irrelevant to some audiences.

Case in point: During a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas over the weekend, my (male) partner was playing history of rome For me, the 192-episode podcast on the Roman Empire by Mike Duncan. To play the podcast, he chose to switch to car mode on the Audible app on his phone, which is a win for Amazon. The fact that most people think about Audible Now! An audiobook app (it isn’t) doesn’t matter. And yes, he could also play the same podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or many other players with car mode. It has no effect on our listening experience. For Apple and other audio companies, casting as wide a net as possible (rather than sticking to just one type of audio) seems to be a smart way to avoid losing today’s whimsical consumers.

The line between podcasts and other types of audio content has been blurred for some time. The latest overhaul of Apple Podcasts has removed this – for a very specific consumer. When Apple first launched its standalone Podcasts app in 2012, it looked like it would serve as a colorful directory of RSS feeds. The app was a neat home for podcasts that was separate from iTunes and let you listen to your podcasts on the go. But the sheer volume of audio-only programming available to the average consumer has grown exponentially over the past decade – to such an extent that it makes sense to unify them under one roof.

You can read more details about the Apple Podcasts overhaul here the vergeJustin Calma.

Spotify and OpenAI’s new partnership paves the way for podcast voice translation

Spotify is testing a voice translation feature that will reproduce English-language podcasts in Spanish, French, and German, as well as other languages. as i wrote the vergeSpotify has developed a tool that uses OpenAI’s Whisper model, which now includes both speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities:

“The company has partnered with a handful of podcasters to translate their English-language episodes into Spanish with its new tool, and it plans to launch French and German translations in the coming weeks. The initial batch of episodes will come from some big names, including Dax Shepard, Monica Padman, Lex Friedman, Bill Simmons, and Steven Bartlett. Spotify plans to expand the group to include The Repurchaseables From The Ringer and its upcoming show from Trevor Noah.”

Critics are already lashing out at the use of AI to translate podcasts – especially considering that even the most advanced translation software is still capable of making errors. If you’re a Spanish speaker and you’ve had a chance to listen to some of Spotify’s AI-translated episodes, hot pod Want to hear your thoughts!

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