Brendan, our Community Advocate and I have been cooking up something rather interesting which we talked about in this week’s Platform.

podTo is a campaign we’re running to convince app developers and those who facilitate podcasts - hosting companies, theme designers, plugin developers and so on - to adopt a standard URI scheme for opening up podcasts in users’ favourite apps.

“A URI whatnow?” you say?

A URI scheme is basically a string of text that goes before another string of text. mailto for example is a URI scheme that instructs the user’s operating system to open a link in the user’s email app. So when you click or tap on an email address on a website, your computer’s operating system asks “are there any apps here that support mailto links?” To which your default mail app responds “yes, it’s me!” and the two exchange details and your email client opens a new window with the address pre-filled.

We want app developers to adopt the same approach, so when you click or tap a single “Subscribe” button on a website, the default podcast client on your computer or device pipes up and shows you the podcast you’re looking at, so you can subscribe directly from your app.

Why is this important? Well, right now, in order to subscribe to a podcast, you have to know what podcasting app you use, and that’s a bigger barrier-to-entry than you might think, because not everyone knows what podcasts are, in the same way that most normal people don’t really know how email works… it just, sort of, does.

We want to present the same ease-of-use for users, and break out of the system of having lots of different subscribe buttons for different apps. If you don’t already have an app on your phone that responds to the podto URI scheme, we’ll hatch a plan to show a helpful page that lists compatible apps for your operating system, in a random order so we don’t play favourites.

You can read more about the plan on the podTo campaign website, where you’ll also find a link to get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

In other news, I hope to have mitigated the problem of RSS feeds getting incorrectly read by Apple Podcasts. It may not be completely fixed, but I’m hoping it should happen much less often. This is done by more aggressively caching the podcast feeds at our CDN (our content delivery network), instead of having to constantly go back to our file host, which might be busy at the time.

Screenshot of player showing unavailable episode

If you’d like to know more about how I came to build Podiant, you can hear me on Packaged, a show all about subscription services.

And that’ll do it, for another busy week at Podiant. Until next time, the happiest of podcastings to you!