I may, or may not, be releasing this today in Podnews; but thought you might find it interesting. There's been a significant change in how the Apple Podcasts app works.

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@jamescridland that's explosive! They are fundamentally transforming the relationship with RSS in the Podcast app exactly as @adam predicted.

I just added my experimental (non iTunes feed) at least the add URL button is still there. I assume that must poll the rss feed (I could look at my logs I guess).

@jamescridland Confirming, I got a lot if complaints after releasing yesterday that the episode wasn't "showing up in the Apple app".

@adam @jamescridland @dave I'm trying to test what happens _now_ when a podcast is removed from AP's catalog. Previously, it wouldn't affect followers, but it might now.

@adam @jamescridland reinstalled Apple’s podcast app to see what would show or not show up. No Agenda up to date. So is Podnews. Podland not the latest ep yet.

@jamescridland God this is a great explanation. Thanks for doing this research James. One question: can you tell if the app is pulling per episode show art from Apple’s cache now vs the origin?

@jamescridland Is this true in all cases? Just checked using Reflections [1] and the app is refreshing the feed from the phone app from my IP, using the Apple Podcasts app user agent.


@jamescridland Verified on the server side, the request is coming from the phone app, not the crawler.

@dave @jamescridland Yep, also was on 14.5 beta when I posted that finding "Apple Podcasts fetches both the feed and each media file directly from the user’s device." in the Reflections post.

But since this podcast doesn't have an iTunes id, I wouldn't be surprised if the AP app fetches it directly in only this case. Would need server logs from other podcasts to verify.

James, I'm also curious: do you see an Apple-looking callback in your websub subscriptions?

@js @dave I don't have any Apple-looking callbacks in my websub subscriptions. Indeed... here they all are!

@jamescridland @dave If Apple are going to rely on centralized polling, seems like it would be imperative for them to subscribe via WebSub.

Or they could trigger a refresh manually whenever Siri sees the AP app is open, and some ExpletivesPerMinute threshold is reached...

@js @jamescridland EPM is how I judge how fast to respond to help desk tickets at the day job. 😊

@js @dave It could be a server switch; it could be that the beta worked differently. But I can absolutely guarantee that is never grabbed by Apple Podcasts iOS 14.5; and Apple confirm that is the app's new behaviour. So I'm quite interested if yours is still calling the RSS feed direct.

@js Apple have since confirmed my story. Your Reflections podcast doesn't appear to be in Apple Podcasts, so are you subscribed direct to the RSS feed? In which case... they haven't really kept the RSS parser in there for that, have they?! Goodness.

@jamescridland @js I have Reflections manually subscribed in my AP also and it works. So it must be local parsing. I can’t think of another way it would work unless Apple have some sort of shadow entries in their API. That seems unlikely though.

Also, of note, is the 14.5 version of AP now apparently reports “Apple Podcasts” instead of AppleCoreMedia when streaming. At least it does for me. Can you confirm this James?

@dave @js Overcast uses its central crawler for all feeds, including private ones. They just never appear in search.

"the 14.5 version of AP now apparently reports “Apple Podcasts” instead of AppleCoreMedia when streaming" - I'm not seeing any user-agent of "Apple Podcasts".

@dave @js The useragents from Apple Podcasts iOS 14.5 are visible at if you search in browser for - you'll also see some browsers here. I don't see any AppleCoreMedia calls from iPhones though.

@dave @js Podclock? Sure - - itunes ID is 1558250051 and I note it currently lists a) 2 episodes (there's only one), and b) no playable episodes. Ha!

@jamescridland excellent explanation. Like we need another reason to use a different app.

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