Apple revamps Podcast app, adds subscriptions

The whole app isn't behind a paywall, but rather creators can charge for extra features

Apple is revamping its Podcasts app to make podcasts easier to listen to and to allow creators to offer subscriptions.

While Apple CEO Tim Cook only briefly touched on the tech giant’s Podcasts app during the keynote, he mentioned a new look is coming to the app. The new design appears to make the app more browsable and similar to the App Store, ideally making it easier for users to find new shows.

One of the coolest upgrades is the new pages for each show that use larger artwork to offer a more immersive listening experience.

The more interesting Podcasts announcement relates to Apple’s new podcasts subscription platform. This allows podcast creators to hide specific features like ad-free listening, exclusive content and early access shows, behind a paywall. This is a growing practice in the podcast space, though it’s usually tied to a platform like Patreon. Apple will take a 30 percent cut from podcast subscriptions for the user’s first year and 15 percent every year after that.

This is an interesting approach from Apple. Unlike Spotify, which is just buying popular podcasting networks and making them exclusive, Apple is banking popular shows will want to be on Apple Podcasts since they can now make money off of their listeners in a more straightforward way. Podcast creators get to set the monthly and yearly price of their subscriptions, and through ‘Family Sharing,’ six people can utilize the same subscription.

Another new feature coming to the Podcasts app is ‘Podcasts Channels.’ Some of these will be free and others are paid and include more features. However, Apple hasn’t shared what those might be, beyond the three examples of paid podcasts featured in the photo above. At first glance, this seems like playlists for Podcasts, but we’ll have more information on the service when it launches sometime in May.

Apple podcasts app

If you’re a podcast creator, Apple has also launched a new website called ‘Apple Podcasts for Creators’ to help people learn about the industry and manage their podcasts on the tech giant’s platform. The company is also updating the ‘Apple Podcasts Connect’ dashboard to make it easier to schedule shows, edit metadata, track analytics and more.

If you want to sign up for the Apple Podcasts Creator program it costs $24.99 per year. The updated Podcasts app is part of iOS 14.5, which also brings App Tracking Transparency to iOS.

Image credit: Apple