FeedPress Adds Support for New Apple Podcast Tags

Apple Podcast Spec Updates

The week of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced that they have updated their RSS podcast spec to include additional tags for podcast publishers. These tags will provide support for additional functionality inside of their own “Apple Podcasts” app. The tags themselves add features that many podcasters have been looking for, such as the ability to specify an episode as trailer, bonus, or full episode.

Apple Podcast Spec Updates

New Podcast Tags

We have added support for the following podcast tags:

  <itunes:episodeType>full</itunes:episodeType>
  <itunes:episodeType>trailer</itunes:episodeType>
  <itunes:episodeType>bonus</itunes:episodeType>

Customers who use FeedPress’ podcast publishing platform can use the “Episode Type” field to specify an episode as a trailer, bonus episode, or full episode, as illustrated below.

FeedPress Publisher Supports New Apple Podcast RSS Tags

it should be noted that whilst the tags can be included now, we won’t see the changes reflected until Apple releases iOS 11 to the public, which won’t be until September and likely after the release of iPhone 8.

Conclusion

It’s really exciting to see Apple moving the needle on podcasts to improve both the listener’s and publisher’s experience. What do you think of the new podcast tags and the changes to Apple’s podcast app on iOS 11? Leave a comment below to chat with us.

FeedPress Adds Automatic JSON Feed Support

JSONFeed

Beloved Mac developers and long time bloggers, Brent Simmons and Manton Reece have launched JSON Feed. The take away for developers is as follows:

For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.

Why care?

So why should anyone care about this with respect to podcasts when Apple controls the ecosystem? Although its early days for the spec, our opinion is that innovation in a space with an established, albeit old spec is a healthy thing.

RSS is and continues to be a workable transportation method for podcast data, but even RSS–which has been around since 1999–needs enhancement. That’s why open source initiatives like syndicated.media exist to take podcast functionality and RSS to the next level (we’re closely watching this).

What impact does it have?

Does this mean that JSON Feed will make any significant impact? That remains to be seen, but we’re pleased to see people move the needle forward.

Co-creator, Manton Reece wrote about how JSON Feed relates to podcast functionality:

JSON Feed includes an attachments array, which is similar to the enclosure element in RSS that enabled podcasting. We love podcasting and included an example podcast feed in the JSON Feed specification.

How FeedPress supports JSON Feed

Experimental JSON support is live on FeedPress. JSON Feed is generated every time the XML feed is refreshed and is not a replication from the source, it’s a creation. The JSON feed validates and it handles podcasts on RSS and Atom.

Conclusion

There is nothing FeedPress customers need to do in order to get JSON compatible feeds. Simply append the ?format=json parameter to the end of your RSS feed.

Here’s an example URL: https://podcast.hologramradio.org/master?format=json

FeedPress customers are encouraged to test this with compatible RSS readers and Podcast apps. We’d love to hear your feedback.

Update: As of May 31, 2017, the feed_url paramter has been added. As per JSON Feed spec documentation, it’s highly recommended:

Your Podcast Might Be Too Quiet Or Too Loud

Alex Knight at the mixing console, working on sound designing a podcast in Avid Pro Tools.

According to the 2017 edition of Edison Research’s “Infinite Dial” report, 65% of people listen to podcasts on mobile devices. Based on location listened to most often, they further break down that 52% of the sampled audience most listen to podcasts at home, 18% in a vehicle, 12% at work, 3% on public transit, 3% at the gym, and 3% walking around.

The Problem

FeedPress advocates podcast producers pay close attention to loudness compliance with their audio. Irrespective of listening environment, it’s just good practice.

Interest in podcast production techniques and the analysis of podcast audio is a growing trend. Engineers are analyzing many of the top ranking podcasts–including ones repackaged from radio–and are finding they exhibit a multitude of problems. Some of the problems podcasts have include an extended dynamic range, wide ranging degrees of loudness, and even clipped audio.

Why Care?

Overly loud podcasts may contain audible distortion, which can be extremely uncomfortable for listeners. Furthermore, your audience should not be frustrated and have to constantly reach for the volume controls when listening to podcasts. This is why audio engineers advocate that podcast producers aim for a target loudness of -16 Loudness Units relative to Full Scale (LUFS) for stereo files and -19 LUFS for mono files. LUFS is a standard designed to enable normalization of audio levels of broadcast TV, other video, and now podcasts.

There are two reasons why engineers are pushing for audio compliance: maintaining a level of consistency between program audio, and comfort in loud listening environments. Some examples of noisy listening environments include: the morning or afternoon commute by train, car, or walking outside. Working with spoken word requires attention to detail to maximize intelligibility and loudness for mobile device consumption.

Solutions

You are a story teller, editor, and producer and must ensure the quality of your audio matches the high bar set for your content. There are solutions to this complex problem that do not require an audio engineering degree. For example, podcast producers can use tools built into Adobe Audition such as “Match Loudness” to optimize and export their podcasts to recommended compliance targets.

Another solution is to use an online service such as Auphonic, which contains reasonable presets for novices. Note that even though there are tools that can make this job more efficient, you should still understand the fundamentals of why loudness compliance is needed and how it’s achieved.

Audio engineer Paul Figgiani of produceNewMedia blog, and a longtime advocate for loudness compliance, writes:

> I’ve discussed the reasons why there is a need for revised Loudness Standards for Internet and Mobile audio distribution. Problematic (noisy) consumption environments and possible device gain deficiencies justify an elevated Integrated Loudness target resulting in audio that is perceptually louder on average compared to Loudness Normalized audio targeted for Broadcast. Low level, highly dynamic audio complicates matters further. The recommended Integrated Loudness targets for Internet and Mobile audio are -16.0 LUFS for stereo files and -19.0 LUFS for mono. They are perceptually equal.

Conclusion

You now realize the importance of optimizing your podcasts for loudness compliance. To learn more about properly optimizing and mastering podcast audio, please read our in-depth article on loudness compliance.

Apple Silently Adds Support for Let’s Encrypt Certificates on Podcast Feeds

FeedPress has had SSL support for RSS feeds and hosted podcast media since June 2016. Let’s Encrypt is an open source certificate authority that has been adopted by millions and provides easy access for companies like us to issue free SSL certificates to every customer.

An obstacle podcasters have had since Let’s Encrypt’s introduction is that iTunes Podcast Connect would reject feeds using their SSL certificates. The reason for this is because the iTunes Java Root Store was old and didn’t recognize Let’s Encrypt as a valid certificate authority.

This week we were alerted that the folks at iTunes had silently updated their infrastructure to support Let’s Encrypt. FeedPress has tested compatibility and is pleased to confirm that you can now submit podcast feeds to iTunes using Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. As of the publication date of this blog post, Apple has yet to update their FAQ on official support for Let’s Encrypt.

Please refer to our tutorial below to learn how to enable HTTPS on podcast feeds:

http://support.feed.press/article/113-enabling-ssl-on-hosted-feedpress-feeds

Conclusion

Note that although SSL is a feature that is available in FeedPress, it’s not a compatibility requirement for iTunes at the moment. If you don’t feel comfortable turning it on, we recommend leaving it off until Apple provides a cut off date when it must be enabled.

Podcast Publisher: Specify Publish Date And Time in Your Posts

Available today on our Podcast Publishing system, you can specify a publish date and time on posts. This was a requested feature and is something we wanted to get into v1 of the podcast publisher system but didn’t get to.

Customers requested this as it’s an expected feature in a CMS, but also because it’s handy when you migrate from other hosting services and need to re-create your posts and preserve the original publishing date and time.

Selecting a publish date and time

date and time fields

The new date picker

date picker

Updates to File Storage

Several months ago we increased the provisioned file storage from 250MB to 400MB for all customers. Today we made a tweak to File Storage to include a status that reflects whether or not that file is attached to a post. For example, if you have a draft post with an uploaded file, the file will say “Draft.” If you have a post that’s been published, the status of the file will reflect “Published.”

podcast file storage status

Publish your own podcast

You remember that feeling of delight you experienced when you first tried ice cream as a kid. That’s what podcasting on FeedPress feels like. Publish your own podcast today on a 14-day trial and experience delight once again.