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Using topics to make sense of podcasts

Over the last several years, the podcast space has grown to encompass a wide and varied range of content. On iTunes, there are nearly 300,000 shows; it’s easy for the casual listener to get lost in all the options. Here at Audiosear.ch we’ve made it our mission to chart and map out the world of podcasts by looking at different ways of connecting, organizing, and uncovering good shows.

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Audiosear.ch: powering the future of listening

In 2014, our co-founders — Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith — were very, very busy.

Every day they were commuting from Oakland, CA to 500 Startups’ Mountain View accelerator  as they developed Pop Up Archive, a business then in its infancy. They spent their days learning about speech-to-text software and ways of modeling data for audio, pitching their vision that audio was a medium whose parity with text was becoming inevitable. They talked about developing a product that was like Google for all types of audio. Then the podcast “Serial” was released.

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Innovating new forms of audio storytelling

We’re delighted to share that we’re partnering with BuzzFeed and Stitcher to host Come and Play, a two-day audio storytelling hackathon where artists, storytellers, producers, developers, designers, and others will come together to find new and fun ways to tell stories with audio.

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CastNinja: A desktop alternative to iTunes

Jesse Morris is a big podcast fan. He tries to expose himself to a broad range of topics that interest him, and he’s fascinated by podcasts as a form of unregulated media that can address something as inane as socks or as elaborate as French Revolutionary history.

Jesse is also a software developer, and while he typically uses an app on his phone to listen to podcasts, sometimes he wants to listen on the web to avoid running his battery down. He used to use iTunes, but stopped after he switched to using his Android device for music and podcasts. He found that it was difficult to find a good replacement for desktop listening — so he decided to create his own, CastNinja, using the Audiosear.ch API.

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How I listen: Lucy Carnaghi

Meet Lucy Carnaghi. Lucy is the co-owner of a restaurant in Detroit called Rose’s Fine Food (“The Ultimate Diner”). In her free time, she enjoy foods and entertaining, reading and writing, exercise, horses, and making things. This is how Lucy listens.

When did you start listening to podcasts? Did someone teach you how to subscribe, and have you taught anyone else how to listen?

I started listening about five years ago because I wanted to catch up on This American Life episodes I was missing on regular radio. My interest in other podcasts grew from there. I tried to teach my dad, but I’m not sure if it really stuck for him.

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Which podcast app is right for you?

Podcast discovery has long been limited to recommendations from friends or the hosts of shows listeners already know and love — but podcast apps are starting to integrate smarter discovery features into their offerings. We’re building the Audiosear.ch API to help podcast apps delight listeners with serendipitous discovery — in particular by using our podcast intelligence to surface specific episodes based on content, tone, and quality.

How to sort through all the choices and find the ones you’ll love? Here’s a roundup of how seven popular podcast apps handle discovery.

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Pastime: Streamlining the podcast app

Software engineer Andrew Roper first got the idea to build Pastime — a “rigorously simplistic” audiobook and podcasting app — when a relative was diagnosed with macular degeneration. With its large buttons and straightforward navigation, Pastime was made to suit the needs of visually impaired people. That challenge prompted Andrew to consider broader issues of accessibility.

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Take the Audiosear.ch clipmaker for a spin

Have you ever tried to describe a favorite podcast episode to a friend only to realize it’s more of a “guess you had to be there” situation? Ever wanted to share a zinger of a clip, but feel silly sending a podcast link and timecode? We’re right there with you.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are optimized for text, images, and video — but not audio. How do we make audio content flourish on our feeds just as much as photos, gifs, and videos? Let the words speak for themselves, we say. The Audiosear.ch clipmaker makes it easy for anyone to select a favorite podcast moment and share it on social media as a short auto-playing video.

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Using transcript analysis to fuel podcast discovery

Lots of people get podcast recommendations from friends, social media, newsletters, or websites — which are pretty much the only sources available to them. Today’s podcast listening apps don’t offer much in terms of options for search and discovery.

A few apps have charts that reflect measurements of show popularity, or offer some insight into the listening habits of people who subscribe to the same show you do. But most podcast platforms simply don’t have much information about the podcasts they offer to listeners. There’s a title, maybe a short description, and possibly some listening data gathered by tracking users in the app. But the episodes themselves — their content, the topics they cover, people they feature, moods they strike — are black boxes.

 

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Making podcast search smarter

What if searching for podcasts felt as fun and effortless as browsing on-demand video platforms like Netflix or Hulu?

Using the deep database of podcast metadata we’ve collected at Audiosear.ch, we’re building better ways to discover podcasts. Audiosear.ch provides topic and network filters, discovery categories, and smart show search features to make finding podcasts easier than ever. Give it a try — and tweet at us to tell us what other options you’d like to see.

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