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Why Apple’s Podcasts App Is About to Get a Lot Better

Don Reisinger

Apple’s Podcasts app hasn’t been a favorite of many iPhone users over the years. But a recent acquisition suggests it might get some important updates.

The tech giant has acquired a small audio file organization company named Pop Up Archive, Nicholas Quah at Nieman Lab is reporting, citing sources. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and neither Apple nor Pop Up Archive publicly confirmed the deal. However, Pop Up Archive has been taken offline, and a note on its site says that it “shut down operations and ended support on November 28, 2017.”

Pop Up Archive offered tools to users to transcribe and organize audio files, according to Nieman Lab. But its most useful tool was the podcast search engine Audiosear.ch, which made it easier for users to find content amid the maze of programming available in the growing podcasting world. While Apple hasn’t confirmed its next move with Pop Up Archive’s technology, Quah, who knows the startup’s CEO Anne Wootton personally, suggests Audiosear.ch sorting and searching features will be coming to Apple’s Podcasts app.

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Apple’s Podcasts app comes built into the company’s mobile operating system iOS. It’s also available in its tvOS platform for Apple TV. The service provides users access to podcasts, as well as a tool for actually playing those podcasts in the app. Users can subscribe to podcasts from the app or simply access certain episodes of different programs.

The Podcasts app has been roundly criticized for years by pundits and critics who say Apple’s app makes it too hard to find content. Many of those people have turned to third-party podcasting apps, like Overcast, Pocket Casts, and others. Those apps generally have better interfaces and do a better job of surfacing content.

Now armed with Audiosear.ch technology, Apple could use that service’s podcast-searching tool, which was generally well-received among users, to enhance the Podcasts app. But when, or if, that might happen, is unknown.

In a statement to Nieman Lab, Apple offered up its canned response when news of an acquisition leaks, saying that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” The company added that it would “not discuss our purpose or plans.”

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