Apple’s latest update, iOS 17.4, has introduced an innovative feature that significantly enhances the podcast listening experience for users of the Apple Podcasts app. This update includes the provision of auto-generated transcripts for podcasts in English, French, German, and Spanish, with a rollout covering over 170 countries and regions.
This feature functions similarly to the real-time lyric feature in Apple Music, where listeners can read a synchronized text version of the podcast episode as they listen, with the spoken words being highlighted in real time. This not only makes it easier to follow along but also allows listeners to jump to a particular section of the episode by simply tapping on the corresponding text snippet. To access this feature, users are directed to click on a newly added "quote" icon found at the bottom of the Now Playing interface. Additionally, users can view the transcript independently of the audio by pressing long on the episode's detail page and choosing the "View Transcript" feature.
When podcast creators publish a new episode, Apple's system automatically generates a transcript, although there might be a brief period of processing time before the transcript becomes available. The transcribing of episodes from creators' back catalogs is set to be implemented gradually.
Podcast creators who wish to provide their own transcripts have the option to do so through the Apple Podcasts Connect by modifying the settings in the Availability tab. Nevertheless, creators must ensure their transcripts are free of spelling and grammatical errors, as Apple requires adherence to certain standards. For instance, transcripts containing such errors will not be displayed.
Episodes featuring simultaneous speech from multiple individuals may pose challenges, resulting in a lower transcription quality. Moreover, the transcripts feature has content limitations and will not provide explicit episode transcriptions for users who have content restrictions enabled. Additionally, the transcribing service will exclude music lyrics.
Beyond the podcast transcription service, iOS 17.4 introduces a set of changes with special implications for developers in the European Union. This includes a new fee structure, fresh frameworks and APIs tailored for alternative browser engines, and the ability for developers to distribute iOS apps via third-party app stores. The beta version of iOS 17.4 is currently available, and its public release is anticipated in March.