Apple released iOS 11 on September 19 for iPhones and iPads. It brings many new features to support podcasting and improve podcast consumption! Here's what I think you should love.
Improvements for consuming podcasts
Most of Apple's improvements to the Podcasts app in iOS 11 are designed to improve the experience for users. And I think we should all be advocates for making things easier for the audience.
The new seasons and serial features make it easy for someone to enjoy a podcast in the right order and not miss anything. The new bonus and trailer episode types make it easier to preview a podcast and enjoy extra content. And the app leverages new and existing tags to enhance the browsing and listening experience by displaying episode types, episode numbers, teaser text, full show notes, and an option to visit the episode's webpage.
As a podcaster, you don't have to update all your old episodes to use the new features, but doing so could make your podcast appear a lot nicer in the app. If you have a seasonal show, I definitely recommend assigning at least the most recent one or two seasons.
New and upcoming Siri integrations
Siri's default English voice sounds more natural in iOS 11, but she can do more, too! Try saying, “Hey, Siri. Subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast.” She'll find the top podcast match, read the title and author to you, and ask you whether you want to subscribe. (You can also say, “Play the latest episode of The Audacity to Podcast,” and she'll do it, but that was available before iOS 11.)
Now that Apple supports an episode number tag in the RSS feed, I expect you'll eventually be able to ask Siri to play a specific episode or season of a podcast.
iOS 11 also opened more support for developers to integrate with Siri. For example, you can tell Siri to make a new note in Evernote. I'm sure other podcast-app developers will work to integrate Siri into their systems, too.
Easier rating and reviewing
Before iOS 11, rating and reviewing a podcast on a mobile device was a huge pain. Even though I recommended pointing people to your iTunes URL (I hope with a friendly /itunes URL on your domain), that might behave weirdly:
- If they weren't already subscribed to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, your iTunes link would take them to your podcast in the Apple Podcasts catalog and they could find the area to rate or review.
- If they were already subscribed to the podcast in Apple Podcasts, your iTunes link would take them to your podcast in their subscription library in Apple Podcasts. But there was no way to rate or review from there!
Thus, the only ways you could ensure they would get to an area to rate and review would be to use a complicated URL hack or to tell them to find your podcast with a search in the Podcasts app!
But in iOS 11, existing ratings and reviews along with the ability to rate and review appear with the podcast in both the catalog and in your subscription library! So even though your iTunes URL still takes them to your podcast in their subscription library, they can swipe to below your episodes and easily tap to rate and review!
Apple will still show only the reviews from your country, but that's where My Podcast Reviews will help by automatically collecting and sending your latest reviews from all 155 iTunes stores. With that, you can save time and better engage your audience. Remember that ratings and reviews don't affect your ranking, but they are good for a lot more!
“Podcast discovery” is a mythical problem. Yes, podcasters think there's a problem with their shows being discovered, but discovery isn't a problem for the consumers. Ironically, nearly everyone trying to solve this mythical “podcast discovery” problem is making an app or website that has to be discovered!
Discovery isn't the problem. Relevant recommendations might be.
For years, Apple has suggested other relevant podcasts on your podcast's catalog entry. But the most common time someone would see that is when they're finding the podcast for the first time! After that, those recommendations were relegated to stay in the podcast catalog and never be seen again.
But in iOS 11, those recommendations are now displayed with the podcast inside the subscription library! Thus, simply swipe all the up and you'll see a “You might also like” section. Looking at my own listing for The Audacity to Podcast, all but one of the recommended podcasts are about podcasting! And the top two are School of Podcasting and The Podcaster's Studio!
As a podcaster, don't rely on this boosting your numbers a whole lot. Word of mouth from personal recommendations will still be the most powerful way people find new podcasts.
Analytics for podcasters
If you launched the Podcasts app on iOS 11, you may have noticed it has its own terms and conditions you must accept before using the app. That's because the Podcasts app in iOS 11 is now tracking actual consumption of episodes! This means when Apple opens the data to podcasters in late 2017, you'll be able to log into your Podcasts Connect account and see how people consumed your episodes! You'll see where they skipped, where they abandoned the episode, how quickly your episodes reach download or completion thresholds, and more!
Seeing this deeper data may hurt your pride a little at first, but it can be a great way for you to know how engaging your episodes are. For example, you could learn:
- How much of your audience skips any part of your episode: opening, closing, ads, or other calls to action
- How much of your audience listens to all (or almost all) of your episode
- Whether a particular section of your podcast inspires your audience to abandon it
What this data probably won't confirm is the ideal length of a podcast episode, because there really isn't one! I expect we'll see a lot of public-radio podcasters claim their data shows shorter episodes might be better, but that data can only apply to their shows. So maybe their shows should be shorter!
I look forward to learning what kind of retention long podcasts like Dan Carlin's Hardcore History or No Agenda get!
Listen to Podcasters' Roundtable round 101 for some more conversation about stats, including what's coming from Apple.
And yes, the email you may see from Chel Torres is truly from Apple and it shows they're working to fix “Apple IDpocolypse” so you'll eventually have access to the new analytics even if the Apple ID stuff is messed up for your podcast.
Better tools for creators
iOS 11 brings a lot of other updates that allow developers to make better apps.
For example, iPad users can now drag and drop stuff between apps. That can make creating content much easier when you don't have a computer!
And I think somewhat surprisingly, Apple added a QR Code scanner to the native camera app. That makes QR Codes cool again! (Imagine all the sarcasm you want for that statement.)
What other things do you think make iOS 11 great for podcasts and podcasting?
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- DarkCrystal34, from the USA, wrote in Apple Podcasts, “… His information on The Audacity to Podcast and other podcast sites/shows is informative, clear, very to the point, and always unique in that he strikes the perfect balance of nerding out with nuanced detail, but keeping the broad level important points in place, in a way that's organized and easily digestible. Kudos for this podcast production information! Folks may also want to check out Podcasters' Roundtable, which includes Daniel with other podcast show guests having round-robin conversations about all things in the podcast production world.” Read the full review.
- Mark Paul, from the USA and host of Overtime Hockey Talk, wrote in Apple Podcasts, “… I have started my own podcast and his advice has saved me from making mistakes early on that may have otherwise railroaded me and got me off track. …” Read the full review.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.