Apple’s iOS 11 Update Changes for Podcasting

Apple recently released it’s latest iOS 11 update and with that, there were some changes to Apple Podcasts. As podcasters, you’ve probably been advised and noticed some changes in your hosting software to accommodate these changes. With this update, Apple also redesigned their podcast app.

Apple Podcast App Update

The Apple Podcast App is still the most popular podcast consumption app by far so the redesign has been much anticipated. There has been some mixed feedback about it but I thought I’d take this opportunity to quickly explain the changes. The tabs along the bottom have been updated and are now divided into Listen Now, Library, Browse and Search.

  • The Listen Now tab is a combination of the old My Podcasts and Unplayed tabs and displays shows that you’re subscribed to and recently played episodes.
  • The Library tab is divided into a few sections – Shows are the podcasts you are subscribed to; Episodes are the latest episodes from your subscribed shows; and a list of your subscribed podcasts that have been Recently Updated.
  • The Browse tab is similar to that in Apple Music where it lists Featured Shows, the Charts, Categories and Featured Providers.
  • Lastly is the Search tab but that one probably doesn’t need an introduction.

Podcast Specifications

In this latest update, Apple Podcasts (iTunes) have also changed a number of podcast specifications (RSS tags) so your podcasts will present more clearly with Season and Episode numbers. This is where you may have seen some of the changes in your hosting platform. These new specifications will:

– Enable users to provide clear, concise titles (with no need for episode numbers)
– Improve how episodes are ordered and recommended within a season
– Add the ability for new subscribers to receive the full current season to their library
– Add quick play to allow users to pick up listening where they left off.

Following is a list of tags and a brief explanation.

Show Types – Episodic or Serial

Episodic – what you’ve been doing thus far. When your episodes are stand-alone episodes, can listen in any order and when you want your episodes listed newest to oldest.
Serial – when you want your episodes listed oldest to newest (eg narratives, storytelling, thematic and multiple seasons).

Episode Information

Season number – if only 1 season exists then it won’t display – only when there is more than 1. This will display above the title if relevant.
Episode number – use this tags to specify the recommended order for episodes within the season. This will display above the title.
Episode Title – episode title ONLY, not your podcast title, season or episode number
Episode Type – whether the episode is full (normal), trailer or bonus.

Episode Descriptions

Episode Summary – for different show notes in Apple Podcasts App. It was limited to 4000 characters but now they only want it to be 1-2 sentences. This tag will no longer support HTML or other formatting.
Episode Note – containing information or show notes about your episode – can use some HTML and rich text formatting

Apple’s Consumption Analytics

And the most anticipated update is that Apple Podcasts will introduce consumption analytics. These analytics will be available in Podcasts Connect. This is huge news for podcasters! This is specific to play-back data where you’ll be able to see information such as how much of an episode was played after the download/stream; how many people skip ads or segments; when people abandoned the episode and how many people listen to the whole episode; how many of your audience are subscribed; filter data by location and platforms; and some demographic data. These analytics will gather data for all products in the apple ecosystem – which accounts for 60-70% of all listeners.

These analytics will be extremely useful to see how much information your audience is actually consuming. You’ll be able to use this information for sponsorships and to modify your podcast format with informed decision-making. It is anticipated that these new analytics will become available in late 2017.

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