Yesterday, Apple began adding transcripts to Apple Podcasts, detailing the change on the Apple Podcast for Creators site and making them available for in iOS 17.4 developer beta 1.
This change is a huge win for accessibility, will surely improve searching in the Podcasts app, and makes quoting your favorite podcast an easy task by letting you copy and paste the text out – something I’ll definitely have to turn into a shortcut soon.
All these benefits are great in their own way and will make podcasts more shareable as a whole, allowing us to unlock so many people’s great ideas that are currently stored within hours of audio files and obscured behind URLs that point only to the show or episode as a whole.
However, I think Apple needs to go one step further in their next step and add timestamps to Apple Podcasts, a long-overdue feature that’d enable users to share links to individual moments within a podcast, directly to a specific point in the transcript.
Similar to what’s already now available for Transcripts, listeners could tap on a paragraph, seek to the beginning of a sentence, and the use the Share sheet to not only “Copy” the text, but “Copy link at timestamp” – something I’m surprised didn’t come along with this feature.
Apple Music has a similar implementation on the Lyrics page, which lets you select one or more lines – and the Copy Link at Timestamp feature is already available in the Apple Developer app as well.
Other podcasts apps like Overcast have already created their own implementation, letting you open an Overcast link into a podcast at a specific moment – developer Marco Arment uses a timestamp function appended to the URLs to create the deeplink to a specific moment that reads like this:
Apps like YouTube instead use the total seconds progressed in a video, a perhaps more-functional version for implementation (but less user-friendly to type out manually, if need be) – their URLs end in ?t=181 to represent 3 minutes and 1 second, like this:
Whichever method they decide on, I propose Apple adopt a timestamp protocol for Apple Podcasts, append the information the URL, and make a new system that lets anyone link to a specific moment in a podcast, share that with others, and let that new listener enjoy the same moment in their Podcasts app.
I’ve filed this to Apple in their Feedback app as FB13561512 (Add timestamps to Apple Podcasts to allow linking to specific moments) – if you think this is a good idea, send a duplicate of my feedback and mention my # in your report to Apple; or, share this online if you agree.
Maybe we can get timestamp links added too!