Podcasts are becoming more and more popular for many reasons – the subscription model being one of the more important ones. Automatic downloads make podcast content easy to access and flexible to use and create an important bond between creators and the audience.
However, to actually subscribe to a podcast has proven to be a confusing and error prone task. No more: because today, we are going to change all this with the introduction of the Podlove Subscribe Button.
The idea is simple: present one simple button that makes selecting a podcast feed and passing it along to your favourite podcast app (either on your computer, mobile phone or in the cloud) a no-brainer. To subscribe, your audience just clicks the Podlove Subscribe Button, selects an app and there is (usually) no step three.
One button to subscribe them all
Okay, so we say it’s simple. Let us walk you through this to prove our point.
On the podcast website, you see the Podlove Subscribe Button somewhere. We use the established term “subscribe” and the well-known generic Podcast logo (once popularised by Apple) to make clear this button is all about subscribing to a podcast and not to be confused with blog subscription which is a totally different thing for the user (although being technically similar).
That’s how the button looks up-close. Please note, the button comes in various sizes to be able to fit various contexts in web sites. We like the big smashy version that combines with podcast cover best:
Once you activate the button by clicking it, it displays a summary of what you are about to do. We do this to ensure you know what you are going to subscribe to. This is how this looks on an iPhone 5:
When you select “choose app” the button automatically detects the OS you are using and presents a list of well-known apps for that particular platform.
In this example, we choose to open the podcast in the Castro app for iOS which brings up the app’s subscription dialog window. Here you can review your decision once more and proceed to actually subscribe to the podcast (or cancel the process). Please note that some apps just go straight to subscribing to the podcast without asking. This depends on the App and can’t be influenced by us.
What if launching failed or if the app is not yet installed? Well, then you get some strange OS-dependent error, but the Podlove Subscribe Button still has you covered: you can retry or just proceed to the primary location to download/install/buy these chosen app (or go back and choose a different one).
Alternatively, you can change to the “Cloud” tab and get a list of web-based services where you can log in with your account and subscribe to the podcast there. This means you can actually subscribe to a podcast even if you are not using your or your primary podcast device.
In the rare case that you use an app that is not yet supported by the Subscribe Button, you can also choose “other app” and copy the usual feed URL that you can then manually transfer to the application. This is somehow still the tedious old way of doing it but at least there is a defined way how to present the URL to the user.
The button has been translated in many languages already and we will provide as many translations as the community is willing to contribute.
The button is hosted by Podlove and will silently be updated to accommodate for new or updated apps and services. Podcasters simply have to set up the button once and they’re set. When new podcasts app surface: we will include it. If new platforms become important: we will support it. When things break and change: we will take care of it.
As of today, the following apps and cloud backends are actively supported by the Podlove Subscribe Button (with more to follow):
- iOS: Castro, Downcast, iCatcher, Instacast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Podcasts, Podcat, RSSRadio
- OS X: Instacast, iTunes, Downcast
- Android: AntennaPod, PlayerFM, Podcast Addict, Podkicker, uPod (coming up: BeyondPod, Pocket Casts)
- Windows Phone: BringCast, Podcast Lounge, Podcast Picker, Podcasts
- Windows: gpodder, iTunes, Podscout
- Cloud: gpodder.net, Instacast Cloud, Player.fm, Pocket Casts
Working with the developers
Behind the scenes we have been reaching out to almost every podcast app developer on every popular computing platform. We have pushed for simple changes to their apps (while many have been compatible from the start) and we have seen many small updates in the recent months to prepare for the launch of the Podlove Subscribe Button.
While we cover most of the current podcast app ecosphere, we are going to add new apps and services as long as they are compatible with the Podlove Subscribe Button. If you are a developer and your app is missing, please review our technical guidelines and contact us.
We provide extensive documentation on how to properly integrate with the Subscribe Button and there is also a fancy testing page to make sure your integration works the way it should.
Loose ends and future plans
Currently, the Podlove Subscribe Button only supports audio podcasts but we will extend it so that you can actually subscribe to video (and even ebook) podcasts as well soon.
We are also thinking about how to support explicit selection of specific formats (like MPEG-4 AAC, MP3, Vorbis, Opus) or feed variants (high and low quality versions etc.). Right now, we automatically choose the right format for you which should serve most customers properly.
There are some issues with new podcast websites that (understandably) go https-only as many podcast apps have problems dealing with podcast feeds via https properly and/or have just trouble subscribing to them once the Subscribe Button presents an actual https URL to them.
We are also working on a solution to make the button blend in more friendly in your web site design so that colours can be easily customised.