For journalists and technology fans alike, every summer a unique tradition repeats itself. In recent years, the faithful fans of Apple have been descending upon San Jose, California for Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). This event has become a forum for all things Apple, with the company typically making a point of saving its best and brightest developments for WWDC.
WWDC 2019 was no different, with exciting announcements ranging from a new iOS flavor for iPads to the release of new tools for software developers saturating the world of technology news. However, buried among the headlines is an important change for podcasters.
Specifically, during WWDC 2019 Apple announced that it was breaking up iTunes. Rather than killing off iTunes completely, Apple is transferring the content found throughout iTunes to three new applications for macOS. Dubbed Music, Podcasts, and TV, these self-explanatory software additions will be rolled out with masOS Catalina later this year.
This seemingly drastic shift begs for questions like “Is this the death of iTunes?” and “What does this mean for podcasters?” to be asked. These questions have been getting a lot of attention within the podcasting world.
The Death of iTunes?
As Mark Twain once reportedly said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” While this may just be another funny quip, this quote applies to the breakup of iTunes better than you may think. Many in the tech community are reporting that iTunes is effectively dead in the wake of Apple’s WWDC 2019 announcements.
However, the fact of the matter is that this restructuring represents a refocusing of the way that Apple assists creators in delivering digital content. When iTunes only housed music, it was fairly easy to find exactly what you were looking for, whether it be a pop hit or classic album. Once movies, TV, podcasts, and even college lectures got thrown into the mix, it became significantly harder to discover content.
Apple’s new approach, with separate apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV, will be more effective at guiding users to the content they’re interested in. This has the potential to offer a huge upside for podcast creators, as listeners will now be able to discover great podcasts via a streamlined interface easily.
While iTunes may be dead in a way, it appears to have gone the way of the Phoenix, rising from its so-called ashes to provide a better content delivery experience for every user, regardless of whether they’re into music, podcasts, or television shows.
It’s important to note that with these changes announced for macOS, the separate apps have already been functioning on iOS devices for some time, with apps for Podcasts, Music, Books, etc.
How Do These Changes Affect Podcasters?
Apple has offered us some guidance with the release of a detailed briefing that outlines just what podcasters can expect from Podcasts. Some of the biggest takeaways include:
Improved Search Features:
When the Apple Podcasts app is rolled out later this year, it will feature more intuitive search capabilities. Listeners will be able to discover shows based on topics, people, and (most impressively) the content of audio transcripts. Better yet, podcast listings will now be able to feature pictures of hosts and guests prominently, so listeners know exactly what they’re selecting.
Apple has outlined new top-level categories that are in the works, including categories for topics ranging from Fiction to True Crime. These newly redefined categories should make it easier for listeners to find shows that interest them, which in turn may lead to larger audiences for some podcasters.
Revised and discontinued subcategories pair with new top-level options to provide a more intuitive user experience. These changes may affect some podcasters but will largely allow creators to find their audience niche more easily when Apple Podcasts goes live later this summer.
As we have seen, there are a number of exciting changes coming both to the world of podcasting and to Apple in general. While we’ve mentioned some of the biggest changes to come as iTunes splits, there’s one important topic we’ve missed so far.
When iTunes splits, users will keep all their data and content, which will be split amongst these new apps. This means that your current subscribers will be here to stay – giving you the freedom and confidence to focus on growing your audience with the new and powerful tools provided by Apple Podcasts.
As podcasting continues to grow and dominate the media landscape, seeing prominent companies like Apple make updates to help users enjoy podcast content is a sure sign of their confidence that the podcast medium is here to stay.