Whats going wrong with Apple and Enhanced Podcasts?


It´s bothering me since month already and I´m trying to figure out what is it with Apple and its careless attempt to neglect Enhanced Podcasts? A pain in the a** for all the persons who are using this technology and trusting in it.

Don´t know what is an enhanced podcast? Wikipedia is describing it this way:

An enhanced podcast can display images synchronized with audio. These can contain chapter markers, hyperlinks, and artwork, all of which is synced to a specific program or device. When an enhanced podcast is played within its specific program or device, all the appropriate information should be displayed at the same time and in the same window, making it easier to display materials.

As many podcasters people like me trying to share something with the world – in my case it is music. A fair way to show good music to other people and helping them to find out more about the artists who produce those songs. My preferred way of doing so is to use an enhanced podcast, using the chapter function to provide details about the title and artist, as well as a purchase link. In this way I can also help out myself a bit by using affiliate links to content for which I get a commission. Two flies with one hand.

So, what is now the problem with this kind of podcasts?

First of all since many years Apple isn´t taking care of their own technology. Since iTunes 11 Apple made it more difficult for users to see this kind of special content, like shown in this post.

Mac users: hold the COMMAND key; Windows users: hold the CTRL key. Holding this key, click the album art in the player at the top middle of the iTunes window. You should now be able to view the slides, images, and chapters for the enhanced podcast. Note: Do not simply double-click the album art without holding the COMMAND or CTRL key. Doing so will only open a mini player displaying the album art and will not show the images in the podcast.

Basically it is still there, but in many cases it just won´t work! The mini players opens up, but most of the time chapter images are not shown correctly, links are missing, and so on.

To create an enhanced podcast you have to use Garage Band – so Mac only! Until now there is no reliable way of creating enhanced podcasts on a windows machine. But even thou you use Garage Band, create the chapters, implement the covers and put some links, in 80% of the case (according to my experience) the content isn´t shown at all, or corrupted.

As you cannot edit all ID3-tags in Garage Band, podcasters need to modify those tags after, for example to change the release date, the comment and artist. What´s the first idea for modifying ID3-tags on a Mac? Mine was iTunes – of course. If you do so, import the enhanced podcast file in iTunes, open it and modify the tags, your file won´t work at all anymore! It seems like iTunes does some damage to the .m4a file which didn´t allowed me, nor other user, to view the “enhanced” content.

Some people did suggest to use VLC player to modify the ID3-tags. For me this wasn´t the solution. My enhanced podcasts still have issues to be displayed correctly. So what´s next Apple?

I spent so many hours in creating those enhanced podcasts and got disappointed everytime. For me I decided to stop doing them and just publish a plain MP3 file – so maybe at the end the interoperability won also non Apple users don´t have issues with playing back those special MP4 files.

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