PodLP running on a Cloud Phone

Beyond the smartphone: PodLP launches on Cloud Phone

Listen · · 5.5 minutes to read
  • Cloud Phone is a new more affordable mobile operating system for the billions of people who cannot afford a smartphone: and it now has a podcast player with the launch of PodLP on CloudPhone. Celebrating its fourth birthday this month, PodLP has now been installed more than ten million times on KaiOS and the JioPhone, other smartphone alternatives: the app supports a number of new podcast features including transcripts.

  • The transcription feature in Apple Podcasts gets a full-feature article in The Guardian: better name recognition is on the way, the article says, also adding that Spotify has “failed to deliver”.

  • In Australia, the Digital News Report: Australia 2024 has been released, showing growth in podcast listening (especially with Gen Z women). 40% of all Australians now listen, the data says. It’s part of a wider survey.

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A saving bandwidth special!

  • Spotted by Tom Rossi of Buzzsprout, Spotify has implemented “conditional GET requests” for RSS feeds using Etags. According to Tom Rossi of Buzzsprout, this has already resulted in 87% less RSS bandwidth being consumed for Spotify and Buzzsprout.

    • Many podcast hosts support an Etag in RSS headers, which only changes when the file itself has changed. In our RSS feed, it’s worked out using the last update time. Spotify sends the last Etag it saw in an if-none-match request; if it’s the same as the current Etag we see, we just give them a “304” code (“not modified”) in return, and do not generate and send the whole RSS feed. This saves processing power for both of us, as well as significant bandwidth: we get 206 checks a day from Spotify to our 32KB RSS feed, but only publish once a day. This change will result in savings for us of 99.5% of the 6.5MB RSS bandwidth we use to Spotify alone. (That’s just for one show!)
    • Not every podcast directory supports if-none-match. AntennaPod, PodcastRepublic, Gaana, Amazon, Slack, PodcastAddict and many others don’t send that header, resulting in significantly more bandwidth for us (and for them). We’re thankful for Spotify for turning it on.
  • Another way to save bandwidth on RSS feeds is to ensure they use gzip or brotli compression. RSS feeds are highly compressible, and compressing our podcast feeds should save 89% of our RSS bandwidth bill. Surprisingly, not every podcast host supports compression; but most do. If you’re a podcast host, you can test over here with the URL of one of your RSS feeds.

    • Podnews wasn’t supporting Gzip for our RSS feed (a mistake); it was accounting for 3.86GB of data per day. We turned it on last week; our bandwidth bill for our RSS feed has more than halved, and is now 1.22GB. We also now fetch feeds with gzip where we can.
    • Brotli is better than Gzip. As of today, Podnews supports both Brotli and Gzip compression. Cloudfront supports both.
  • A third way to save bandwidth is to use the alternateEnclosure in Podcasting 2.0 RSS feeds to offer a lower-bitrate version of audio to podcast players that support it. PodLP does; by default, it uses the Opus version of our audio (762KB) rather than our mp3 (7.1MB). That means we (and listeners in developing countries) get an 89% saving in audio bandwidth, unless they choose to get the MP3 version.

    • You’ll need to generate the additional low-bitrate version, of course. We do that automatically on publishing.
  • Elsewhere - if you’re a podcast hosting company, to measure plays on Cloud Phone correctly, you need to use the X-Forwarded-For header, and (for PodLP) watch for PodLP/1.0 in the user-agent. If you’re not using the X-Forwarded-For header as the originating IP address, you’ll likely discard a number of valid downloads.

  • Want to get an OPML feed from your Apple Podcasts subscriptions? Maybe you want to give another podcast app a go? While an OPML export isn’t built-in to Apple Podcasts, this shortcut will add that functionality.

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Companies mentioned above:
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Podcast data for Jun 17

#1 in Apple Podcasts
US flag The Weekly Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
JP flag 安住紳一郎の日曜天国 (TBS RADIO)

#1 in Spotify
US flag The Joe Rogan Experience (Joe Rogan)
JP flag 霜降り明星のオールナイトニッポン (ニッポン放送)

Over the last week, 196,209 podcasts published at least one new episode (down 0.9%). source

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