In April, Apple Podcasts was poised to revolutionize the industry. It announced in-app subscriptions, as well as an entirely new backend, representing one of the most monumental changes to the app since its launch. The hype was easy to understand: the biggest name in podcast apps legitimizing subscriptions could usher in a new podcasting era, one in which ad revenue plays a less essential role and more people could potentially support themselves off their work.
But in the months since Apple Podcasts’ announcement, podcasters say the platform has failed them in various ways. For a company that prides itself on functionality, design, and ease of use, the new backend’s bungled launch is a mess. Podcasters say Apple Podcasts Connect, which they’re required to use in order to take advantage of subscriptions, has a confusing interface that often leads to user error scenarios that have them pinging Apple at all hours of the day in a panic — one podcaster’s entire show was seemingly archived until Apple stepped in to help and explain what happened.
The updated app’s been buggy since launch. Earlier this summer, an auto-download bug caused a reported 31 percent drop in downloads, according to Podtrac. People who relied on Apple to download new episodes for them might have missed them entirely. (The company issued an update last month that reportedly fixed it, but that solution hinges on people actually updating their app.) Listeners also complained about problems with the app update in April — some say podcasts they had already heard flooded their libraries, and they also had problems syncing their podcasts across devices. It culminated in a slightly delayed launch of the subscription product, pushing it from May to June, some updates, and no public word from Apple on why everything went so wrong.