Apple Podcasts is one of the premier places to find, subscribe, and listen to podcasts. It’s not a perfect app, though. In my quest to find the perfect podcast app (it doesn’t exist), I’ve realized that there are a handful of features from third-party podcast apps that Apple should copy for Apple Podcasts. What new features of Apple Podcasts should be copied from existing third-party podcast apps? As we look ahead to WWDC 2020, we already have some advanced information on what’s coming to Apple Podcasts, but here are my ideas for the future.

Social Listening

In Breaker, you can follow your friends, and they can follow you back. As you listen to episodes, it’s shown on your profile as something you heard. You can also comment on the episode and others can see your comments. I’d love to see Apple build something similar for Apple Podcasts as it would help people find new episodes and build a community around specific shows. There would need to be privacy settings so I could make it where only approved people could follow me, or I could hide a particular show from my listening history.

Breaker

Patreon style donation

Overcast offers an HTML tag that will add a $ icon on the Now Playing screen. I donate directly to a handful of podcasts through their Patreon pages. I wish Apple would add this option right in Apple Podcasts. Creators already have an account with Podcasts Connect, and donations could be facilitated through there. Apple could allow people to make a one-time donation or a recurring donation. Apple would likely take a 30% cut, but it would be great if they would only take 10% or so to cover processing fees. During the show, hosts could say something like, “If you like the show, please support us through Apple Podcasts donation functionality. Using Face ID/Touch ID, listeners could donate through their App Store account. Another way Apple could extend this functionality is to allow users to share their email address with creators for special newsletters, bonus episodes, etc. If your curious, here is how Overcast implements its feature:

Overcast displays a currency-symbol button that opens a payment, membership, donation, Patreon, etc. URL when present in the currently playing episode’s HTML body (“show notes”).

Use the rel=“payment” attribute on a standard HTML link in an episode’s HTML body, e.g.:

Auto Grouping Playlist

Right now, I subscribe to multiple COVID–19 related podcasts. Even for shows that aren’t COVID–19 exclusively, they have had episodes devoted to it. I am reminded a lot of how Castro handles new shows. Instead of all your shows auto-downloading, Castro shows you what’s new, allows you to add the shows that interest you, and archive the rest. I am thinking of some sort of hybrid approach to this functionality. What I envision is that the Listen Now screen would auto group episodes based on genre/event. For example, there might be a WWDC auto group or a college football auto grouping. As our podcast subscription lists continue to grow, we need a new approach to manage them.

Special Premiers

One of the neat features YouTube offers is to “premier” a new video.

YouTube Premieres lets you and your viewers watch and experience a new video together. It’s like a movie or TV show premiere. Premiering your video enables you to schedule a video upload and create buzz around the video with a shareable watch page.

As podcasts become more of a part of our society, letting people listening to something new at the same time would be a great way to build buzz. How this might play into podcasting is how many favorite TV shows have recap episodes. What if a new Apple TV+ show had a live recap scheduled to be released right after the show ended (and it was noted in the Apple Podcasts listing). You could watch the show, listen to the recap right afterward, and using the commenting feature I mentioned above, chat about the episode with other listeners.

Wrap up on new features for Apple Podcasts

Do you have any features from third-party apps that you’d like to see Apple Podcasts implement? The one I most want to see is donation functionality. Overcast has a good start here promoting where you can support the show. Still, I’d love to see Apple take podcast donations to the next level by allowing listeners to support shows directly inside of Apple Podcasts.

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