Apple Confirms HomePod’s Supported Audio Sources in Tech Specs

Apple today updated its HomePod tech specs page with a new Audio Sources section that lists all of the ways in which the speaker can stream audio, setting the record straight on some conflicting information.

Apple Music: HomePod users can ask Siri to play any of over 45 million songs available on Apple Music. A subscription is required.

iTunes Music: HomePod users can ask Siri to play any songs, albums, or audiobooks purchased from the iTunes Store.

iCloud Music Library: HomePod users can ask Siri to play any songs uploaded to a user's iCloud Music Library, including songs imported from other sources such as CDs, with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription.

Beats 1: HomePod users can ask Siri to play Apple's official radio station.

Podcasts: HomePod users can ask Siri to play any podcast episodes from the iTunes podcast directory.

AirPlay: HomePod users can use AirPlay to play other audio from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac. AirPlay 2, coming later this year, is only required to stream audio from these sources to multiple HomePods.

Earlier this week, iMore's Serenity Caldwell put together a useful breakdown with more detailed information about how the HomePod works with Apple Music, iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library, AirPlay, and more.

HomePod orders began last week ahead of the speaker's official launch on February 9 in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Related Roundup: HomePod

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Apple Launches New Podcast Analytics Beta for Podcasters

Apple in June promised to introduce new analytics features for podcasters, providing in-episode analytics options for tracking people listening, where in a podcast listeners stop and skip content, whether ads are skipped, and how long people generally listen for.

Starting today, Apple's podcast analytics feature is rolling out in a beta capacity, reports TechCrunch.

In recent years, podcasts have been growing in popularity, which is what led Apple to finally introduce dedicated analytics tools. Apple also redesigned the Podcasts app entirely in iOS 11, implementing a much improved end user experience with better linearity for podcast episodes.

Apple's new podcasts analytics feature uses anonymized data to make sure user privacy is preserved while also allowing developers access to data that will improve their podcast performance. Data is available from iOS 11 and iTunes 12.7 users.

Podcasters can access the new analytics options for free starting today in iTunes Connect.

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Apple Acquires Podcast Search Startup ‘Pop Up Archive’

Apple has acquired podcast search startup Pop Up Archive, according to Harvard University's Nieman Lab via AppleInsider.

Apple more or less confirmed the report by issuing its standard statement about acquisitions: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Pop Up Archive was an Oakland-based online platform focused on building tools to transcribe, organize, and search audio files, including a podcast search engine, according to the report.
Pop Up Archive was founded in 2012, and has since grown off an extended series of seed investments and grants from sources like Bloomberg Beta, 500 Startups, and the Knight Foundation, among others. The company also has a close relationship with PRX; in 2012, the two organizations partnered up to build PRX’s original web-based archive system.
Both the Pop Up Archive and websites state that operations shut down on November 28, 2017, presumably around the time Apple acquired the startup. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

While no other details about the acquisition were shared, it can be assumed that Pop Up Archive's search tools could be used to improve podcast search and discovery in Apple's official Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad.

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Spotify ‘Coming After’ Apple With Strong Push Into Podcasts

Spotify is experimenting with a new podcast initiative that's said to be aimed at gaining ground on the current leader in the field, Apple, as a way to convince Spotify users on iOS to stick around in the Spotify app, and not migrate over to Apple Podcasts. As of now, the podcast initiative is described as a "test," with Spotify launching a few original podcasts and running promotions for the shows to see how users respond (via Bloomberg).

Currently, podcasts on Spotify sit within the Browse tab of the iOS app and lack any highlighted featured section on the Home screen. Spotify's new initiative seeks a way to change that and begin showcasing podcasts for users in the same way that the service curates music. Earlier this year, Spotify commissioned original podcasts focused on music, premiering first on Spotify before expanding to other services.

Next, more original shows will continue the podcast test over the coming months.
Spotify will fund a new batch of original podcasts in the coming months, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing the private plans.

“Spotify has the potential to do a lot for podcasting,” Quah said. “They have a large user base, and all it takes is a few tweaks here and there to put podcasting in the foreground for the daily listeners.”
The initiative is also expanding into advertising fields, with Spotify agreeing to promote specific podcasts within the app and on mobile transportation, in return for these podcast hosts "talking up" Spotify on social media and throughout their shows. Right now, the podcasts in agreement with Spotify include "Reply All," "Pod Save America," and "The Bill Simmons Podcast."

At WWDC this year, Apple announced major features for both users and podcast creators coming to the overhauled Podcasts app in iOS 11. Although the recently rebranded "Apple Podcasts" holds the majority share of the podcast market (around 55 percent, according to weekly podcast newsletter author Nick Quah), Spotify's stance as the largest streaming service in the world presents it with "an opportunity to steal share from Apple."

Due to the surge in popularity of podcasts over recent years, Apple in 2016 even met with leading podcasters to discuss their grievances over iTunes and its podcasts section.

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Overhauled Podcast App in iOS 11 to Bring Richer User Experience and Listener Analytics

In a Friday session at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed some major updates to is native Podcasts app that will be coming in iOS 11. Some of the changes will affect podcast listeners, while others should make it easier for podcasters to learn more about their audience's listening habits.

As mentioned at Apple's WWDC Keynote earlier this week, the Podcasts app is getting an overhaul in iOS 11. Along with a new interface and better title handling, changes to the way Apple's podcast feed works should make for an improved experience for the end user, as Six Colors' Jason Snell explained in a blog post on Friday:
New extensions to Apple's podcast feed specification will allow podcasts to define individual seasons and explain whether an episode is a teaser, a full episode, or bonus content. These extensions will be read by the Podcast app and used to present a podcast in a richer way than the current, more linear, approach. (Since podcast feeds are just text, other podcast apps will be free to follow Apple's lead and also alter how they display podcasts based on these tags.)
Thanks to the new extensions, users will be able to download full seasons, and the Podcasts app will know if a podcast is supposed to be listened to in chronological order or if the most recent downloaded episode is the most relevant to the listener.

The other updates revealed on Friday are more relevant to podcasters. Notably, Apple is launching in-episode analytics, which will enable podcasters to discover how many people are listening to their episodes and where in the app listeners are stopping and skipping. The analytics will use anonymized data to ensure user privacy while allowing podcasters to know more about listening habits, like how many people skip ads, or how long a podcast runs before listeners lose interest.

The redesigned Podcasts app will come will iOS 11, which Apple is releasing in the fall. A public beta of the operating system is expected later this month.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: Podcasts

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Apple Rebrands iTunes Podcasts as ‘Apple Podcasts’

Apple today has rebranded iTunes Podcasts to be called "Apple Podcasts," and updated its marketing website for podcasters to learn how the new branding can help promote their shows. Apple Podcasts promo materials now include a new "Listen on Apple Podcasts" badge, while most of the pre-existing graphics standards and podcast identity guidelines remain unchanged.

The rebranding also stretches to the company's Twitter account, where iTunes Podcasts has now turned into @ApplePodcasts so users can get up-to-date recommendations on the newest and best podcasts right from their Twitter feed. The functionality and look of the official Podcasts iOS app appears to have remained the same for now.

The new name falls in line with Apple's recent decision to place the company's name in front of the service or product in question -- like Apple Music and Apple Pencil -- and further distances itself from iTunes. During the Code Media Conference this past February, Eddy Cue admitted that Podcasts are seeing a "huge resurgence," and that Apple will "absolutely" do more with the medium in the future.

Today's rebranding could be the first step in that direction for the company.

Tag: Podcasts

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Why you should reread ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’


We have a long running joke on the MashReads Podcast: Can our co-host Aliza Weinberger reference to To Kill A Mockingbird, her favorite book, in every episode that we record?

Given that joke, we are happy to say, this week on the MashReads Podcast, we finally took the plunge and read Harper Lee’s classic.

Join us as we discuss To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s portrayal of racism in the south, if Atticus is actually the hero we all say he is and why you should reread this book.

Then, inspired by our revisit of To Kill A Mockingbird, we discuss books that change when you reread them. Read more…

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