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Apple is, indeed, spinning out a desktop Podcast App

Mmm, Marzipan.

On Tuesday, I linked to a theory that’s been floating around from an iOS developer named Steve Troughton-Smith that Apple has plans to break up iTunes and spin out Music, Podcasts, and Books as separate desktop apps.

Yesterday, we seem to get confirmation of that move. Here’s 9to5 Mac:

During the “It’s show time” event in late March, Apple announced that the TV app would be coming to the Mac soon. This naturally sparked discussions about whether Apple would be bringing its other media apps to the Mac, finally splitting up iTunes into distinct applications…

… I’ve been able to independently confirm that this is true. On top of that, I’ve been able to confirm with sources familiar with the development of the next major version of macOS – likely 10.15 – that the system will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, but it will also include a major redesign of the Books app. We also got an exclusive look at the icons for the new Podcasts and TV apps on macOS.

The report went on to note that the new Music, Podcasts, and TV apps will be made using something called Marzipan, a development tool that lets app makers create applications that can be easily transposed between iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

So, two things:

(1) How does this development matter for podcast-land? In my mind, it depends on the extent to which listeners actually use desktop for podcast consumption. Which is to say: it probably might very not matter much at all given the decreasing use of desktop to consume podcasts over time, per this slide from the Podcast Consumer 2018 report by Edison Research:

(By the way, the latest version of that report drops this afternoon, so expect a few data point pull-outs in tomorrow’s newsletter.)

Then again, who knows. A possible future is one where the default appearance of a standalone Podcast app on Macbooks everywhere could facilitate more people to consume podcasting off their laptops because it’s easier to pull up relative to digging around iTunes. After all, that’s what happened when the Podcast app was spun out as a standalone thing on the iPhone, no?

(2) Of course, the thing that a lot of Podcast People mostly care about is the actual design and UX of the standalone Podcast app. In case you didn’t know, the app as we currently know it… not particularly popular, or liked. (I share some of the critiques, frankly, though I think I’m more blase about this issue than most. I guess I’m just the sort of person who assumes that the world isn’t designed for me.)

The two key questions here are: how will the Podcast app look on desktop? — will it look the same, but more awkwardly transposed? and so on — and will there be any specific design changes whatsoever? (I doubt it.)

Anyway, RIP iTunes, you were a trooper.