Apple Podcasts Subscriptions take aim at Spotify — everything you need to know

Apple Podcasts subscriptions
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple announced its new premium podcasts subscription service at its Spring Loaded event this week, along with a revamped app for iOS 14.5 listeners. The news has proven the rumors that were floating around earlier this year true, with the tech giant looking to take the fight to Spotify.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions goes live next month, with the format appealing to both creators and avid fans alike. The idea is that listeners can sign up for benefits, like an ad-free experience, additional content, and early (or exclusive) access to episodes. Apple CEO Tim Cook describes it as “the biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut.”

Next month will also see the rollout of channels, which will make it a lot easier to find content from your favorite creators. Channels is Apple's name for "groups of shows curated by creators with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork." You'll find a combination of free and paid content here, so you can peruse what's on offer and decide if you want to sign up for a subscription.

If you're listening on iOS 14.5 (due next week), the redesigned Apple Podcasts app will sport new pages for shows and episodes. The Search tab has also been improved, giving quick access to categories and Top Charts. 

Managing your library and active podcasts should be significantly easier with the introduction of the Smart Play button. For episodic shows, Smart Play will automatically play the latest episode. For serialized content, Smart Play will start at the beginning of each series. 

For those of you with patchy internet access or limited data, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will allow you to save episodes which are downloaded to listen to offline.

Podcast creators can set pricing and availability, so there's no blanket subscription cost. The changes should give the app a much-needed refresh and offer more intuitive options for listeners. The revamp rolls out in May, so there's only a couple weeks left to wait before you can dive in.  

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Shabana Arif

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, she's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies.