What is Podcasting? The word “podcast” is a concatenation of the words iPod and broadcast. The underlying technology used for podcasts, called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is capable of containing any type of media including audio, video, graphics, and more.  

Podcasting is a way of publishing podcasts to the web, allowing people to subscribe to a podcast and receive new “episodes” automatically through an RSS feed. Podcasting consists of publishing XML files which contain references to media (called “enclosures”) to a website. Podcast aggregators (often called “podcatchers”), then read these XML files and download all the linked enclosures.

Unlike terrestrial and Internet radio, podcasts are time-shifted, meaning that listeners have control over when and where they hear their favorite programming. And, the episodes are delivered automatically to a subscriber on iTunes so the latest updates are always readily available with no effort required by the listener.

Podcasts offer iTunes users and iPod owners the same freedom and level of control they are familiar with when listening to their own personal music collections. 

Apple has published a FAQ regarding iTunes and podcasting:

Podcasts in the iTunes Music Store

Q: How does iTunes support podcasts?
A: iTunes 4.9 allows people to subscribe to podcast and automatically download new podcast episodes as they become available. Downloaded podcasts can be played within iTunes on your computer or downloaded to iPod and listened to on the go. iTunes also features a directory of podcasts within the iTunes Music Store. People can browse through thousands of podcasts by category, search, preview podcast episodes, get only specific episodes, or subscribe to future updates of the podcast. Podcasters have the ability to submit their podcast for consideration to be included within the iTunes Music Store.

Q: How much do podcasts cost?
A: All podcasts on the iTunes Music Store are free.

Q: Do I have to have an account at an iTunes Music Store to get podcasts?
A: No. You can preview and subscribe to podcasts without opening a Music Store account. However, to publish a podcast to the Music Store, you will need a Music Store account.

Q: Can I put a podcast into an iMix?
A: Yes, but it will be ignored – only the iTunes songs you select will be published.

Q: Does iTunes 4.9 support the creation of podcasts?
A: iTunes 4.9 does not support the creation of podcasts. Many podcast authors edit audio for their podcast episodes using GarageBand software for the Mac. For more information on using GarageBand to record your podcasts, please refer to http://www.apple.com/support/garageband/podcasts/

Publishing a Podcast to the Music Store

Q: Does iTunes 4.9 support the serving of podcasts?
A: No. The iTunes Music Store podcast directory will only contain references to the RSS feeds available on a podcaster’s website. A podcaster must be running web-server software in order to host their podcast. When a user subscribes to a podcast through the iTunes Music Store, iTunes 4.9 will access the podcaster’s RSS feed and download the enclosed audio files directly from the podcaster’s website.

Q: How do I submit my podcast for possible inclusion on the iTunes Music Store?
A: Clicking the Publish Podcast link on the main page of the Podcast genre page in the Music Store allows you to enter the link for the RSS feed of the podcast you’d like to publish to the Music Store. You will be asked to provide the link (including the http:// tag that precedes it), check over the podcast information as it will appear in the Music Store, and provide additional information not included within the feed. Submitted podcasts do not immediately appear in the Music Store and may be reviewed before being posted.

Q: Will there be any limitations or constraints for podcasters submitting their podcast to the iTunes Music Store?
A: Podcasts are recommended to have a show title, description, artwork, categorization, content language, and whether it contains explicit material. There is no limit on the number of podcasts that may be submitted by a given podcaster. For inclusion in the iTunes Music Store, all podcasts episodes within a podcast must be available as either AAC or MP3 audio enclosures. See the section below on Publishing Your Podcast to the Music Store for more detailed information.

Q: Once a podcast is published, how long will it remain in the iTunes Music Store?
A: Podcasts will remain in the iTunes Music Store as long as the podcaster keeps their podcast RSS feed available unless it violates any of the Music Store Terms and Conditions in which case it will be removed.

Q: Will there be any limitation on how frequently a podcaster may update their podcast?
A: No.

Q: If a podcaster does not update their podcast, will it remain published in the iTunes Music Store?
A: Yes.

Q: What will happen if a podcast includes unauthorized copyrighted material?
A: Apple values copyrights and takes this issue very seriously. Users and copyright holders will have a readily accessible complaint form within the iTunes Music Store to notify Apple of any copyright violations.  Apple will investigate the validity of complaints against a podcast and respond accordingly, removing offending podcasts if necessary.

Enhanced Podcasts

Q: What’s an enhanced podcast?
A: In addition to publishing a podcast, you may create an enhanced podcast, which contains chapters that reference pictures or web links that are displayed within the iTunes song artwork viewer.

Q: How do I create an enhanced podcast?
A: You can download and use “Chapter Tool” to create enhanced podcasts. The Chapter Tool allows you to create chapters within a MPEG4 AAC file created with iTunes 4.9 or better. Chapters, at a minimum, must include a Start Time and one other attribute.

Q: How do I install the Chapter Tool?
A: To install the Chapter Tool, drag the ChapterTool folder into the Music folder inside of your home folder. Check the “About Chapter Tool” documentation included in the download.

Q: What are the System Requirements for the Chapter Tool?
A: Chapter Tool Beta requires Mac OS X version 10.2.8 or later (Mac OS X version 10.4.1 or later is recommended), QuickTime version 6.5.2, or later, and iTunes 4.9 or later.

Q: Where can I find the Chapter Tool?
A: Click here to download the Chapter Tool and documentation: Chapter Tool Beta (16.9MB).

Apple has published a PDF document online that contains the technical specifications for iTunes artwork, RSS Feed info and sample code, and iTunes’ podcast categories here (136KB).

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Analyst: iTunes 4.9 helps Apple by bringing podcasting to the masses – June 28, 2005
Jupiter analysts: New iTunes 4.9 ‘will further cement Apple’s position as king of digital audio’ – June 28, 2005
Apple releases iTunes 4.9 for Mac and Windows with podcasting features – June 28, 2005