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Hello Hot Podders, this is Amrita and Ariel! Today we bring you a co-authored issue of the newsletter, mainly out of necessity. We’ve got a ton of news to dive into: Apple takes a big step toward integrating its audio apps, Google Podcasts gets beaten by YouTube Music, and Spotify launches a new AI tool for podcasters.
Google Podcasts is dead, long live YouTube Music
Well, this was predictable. On Tuesday morning, YouTube announced that it is shutting down Google Podcasts as it increases its focus on making YouTube Music a podcast destination. The app will no longer be available next year.
“As part of this process, we will help Google Podcasts users move to Podcasts on 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 US say YouTube is their most used service, compared to just 4% of “Google Podcasts.”
Things already looked complicated for the standalone podcast app back in January, when Google Podcasts was added. disappeared from search results. When YouTube Podcasts Lead Kai Chuk and Google Podcasts Product Lead Steve McLendon announced YouTube Music’s move into podcasts at the Hot Pod Summit in February, they said the plan was still to keep Google Podcasts .
“YouTube and Google Podcasts… are really different products and serve different users,” McLendon said at the summit. “Google Podcasts is largely a traditional RSS podcast grabber. YouTube is not that… So Google Podcasts has not changed.”
But in August, YouTube announced on Podcast Movement that it would support RSS later this year. Once that happens, Google Podcasts will truly be redundant. According to the blog post, YouTube will introduce a migration tool for Google Podcasts users.
It’s a smart move to consolidate podcast listening, but the figure the company cites on its blog (23 percent of podcast listeners using YouTube versus 4 percent on Google Podcasts) is a bit misleading. Yes, YouTube is the main podcast platform, as study after the study has shown it. But that’s not the same as YouTube Music. Here’s a strategy to attract podcast listeners to YouTube Music, where they can potentially become paying subscribers. (Where have we seen that before?) It’s not a bad strategy, but the company will have to get serious about investing in the product if it wants to prevent users from simply Googling a podcast and ending up in old, regular ads. Compatible with YouTube.
Apple Podcasts wants to be more than just a podcast app
There is a certain type of person who prefers 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 podcast app for everything — the app seems headed toward a future where it will be an all-in-one destination for almost everyone. non-musical premium audio content.
Hot on the heels of the iOS 17 update, a new updated Apple Podcasts was introduced today that can link third-party subscriptions to a variety of news and lifestyle apps, including Bloombergcuriosities, sleep cycle, The Economist, and others. Subscribers to Apple Music, Apple News Plus, meditation app Calm, and children’s 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 basic podcast player from the 2010s and is more like Spotify. Their podcasts are still there, and still front and center, but you can see the beginning of an expanding universe of “audio content.”
Much of the content from third-party app subscribers should appear automatically, or users can choose to manually connect their subscriptions on the app’s channel page in Apple Podcasts. The feature builds on Apple’s addition of 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 becomes the best way for listeners to access many forms of premium audio content: podcasts, news briefs, narrated articles, full-length music radio shows, educational courses, guided meditations, sounds for sleep. and much more, all in one place,” the company stated in its advertisement.
Such a determined shift toward other types of audio programming by the company that put “pod” in “podcast” is a sign that Apple has a different view of podcast consumers than perhaps most of the industry itself. While the view supported by the survey data is that listeners prefer a standalone app for podcasts, it’s clear that the larger companies that control the space either don’t share this view or don’t think it matters.
After all, the goal of companies like Apple, Amazon and Spotify is for consumers to spend as much time as possible on their apps. For a company like Apple, which controls both the hardware and software used to listen to the podcast, another goal may be that consumers no longer distinguish between the two. In fact, subscribers can access their third-party content from Apple Podcasts on Apple devices outside of their iPhone, including iPad, Mac, HomePod, Apple Watch, and CarPlay. The audio programming of your choice will be available on demand wherever you are and wherever you go. Over time, the specific mode of delivery may become irrelevant to some listeners.
Case in point: While on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas over the weekend, my (male) partner played The history of Rome for me, a 192-episode podcast about the Roman Empire by Mike Duncan. To play the podcast, he chose to turn on Auto Mode on the Audible app on his phone, which is a win on Amazon’s part. The fact that most people think of Audible as fair an audiobook app (it’s not) didn’t matter. And yes, you could have also played the exact same podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or various other players with car mode. It would have had no impact on our listening experience. For Apple and other audio companies, casting as wide a net as possible (rather than just sticking to one type of audio) seems like a smart way to avoid losing today’s fickle consumers.
The line between podcasts and other types of audio content has been blurred for a while. The latest overhaul of Apple Podcasts, for a very specific consumer, may have all but eliminated it. When Apple first introduced its standalone podcast app in 2012, it seemed to serve simply as a colorful directory of RSS feeds. The app was a clean and tidy home for podcasts that was separate from iTunes and allowed you to listen to your podcasts on the go. But the sheer amount of audio programming available to the average consumer has multiplied exponentially over the last decade, to the point where bringing them together under one roof makes sense.
You can read more details about the Apple Podcasts review at The edgeIt’s Justine Calma.
New Spotify and OpenAI partnership paves the way for podcast voice translation
Spotify is testing a voice translation feature that will play English podcasts in Spanish, French and German, along with other languages in the future. As I wrote for The edgeSpotify has developed a tool that uses OpenAI’s Whisper model, which now includes speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities:
“The company has partnered with a handful of podcasters to translate their English episodes into Spanish with its new tool, and plans to roll out 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 Fridman, Bill Simmons, and Steven Bartlett. Spotify plans to expand the group to include The rewatchables from The Ringer and his upcoming Trevor Noah show.”
Critics are already irritated by the use of AI to translate podcasts, especially considering that even the most advanced translation software is still capable of making mistakes. If you are a Spanish speaker who has had the opportunity to hear to some of Spotify’s AI-translated episodes, hot pod wants to hear your thoughts!