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Apple is making a small but notable change to the way listeners can sign up to get updates on new podcast content, with the company changing the word "Subscribe" to "Follow" in the Podcasts app in iOS 14.5.

ios-14-5-podcasts.jpg

The wording shift in the Podcasts app was highlighted by podnews, with the site pointing out that the word "Subscribe" could have misled Podcasts users into thinking that the podcasts cost money to listen to.

In the current iOS 14.5 beta, tapping on the three dot menu item when viewing a podcast allows users to opt to "Follow" a podcast rather than to "Subscribe" to a podcast. The large "Subscribe" button has also been eliminated in a design changes introduced to the Podcasts app in the iOS 14.5 update, in favor of a "Latest Episode" button.

podcast-app-ios-14-4.jpg
Podcast app interface in iOS 14.4​

When you tap on "Latest Episode," the app now alerts you that you have "Followed" a podcast instead of "Subscribed" to it.

podcast-app-ios-14-5.jpg
Podcast app interface in iOS 14.5​

Other apps like Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music, and Stitcher also use "Follow" wording instead of "Subscribe." Edison Research's Tom Webster told podnews that Apple's shift from subscribe to follow could have an impact on the rest of the podcast industry.
"Today, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube are the three most widely used services to play podcasts, and now the word Subscribe means 'automatically download for free' in exactly none of them. Podcasters will have no choice but to adapt their language accordingly or risk confusing listeners."
Right now, the Podcasts app is free and Apple has no paid podcast content, but rumors have suggested that Apple is working on a paid podcast subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts.

With a paid subscription service, Apple could potentially lure high-profile creators with the promise of more money, stealing them away from other platforms like Spotify. The change in language facilitates the later introduction of a podcasting subscription service and will prevent confusion in the future.

Apple has made small wording changes in the past to clarify how purchases and downloads work. In the App Store, for example, the "Free" label was replaced with "Get" in 2014 to make it clear that apps with no-upfront purchase costs could have in-app purchase options.

Article Link: Apple Podcasts App Lets Users 'Follow' New Content Instead of 'Subscribe' in iOS 14.5
 

whsbuss

macrumors 68040
May 4, 2010
3,929
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SE Penna.
What they need to do is fix episode notifications. Check out the many threads complaining about notifications coming hours late.
 
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Jamalien

macrumors regular
Oct 29, 2014
159
402
There's no difference between this. Subscribers and followers are synonyms. So there is really no point to this.
Podcast’s ‘subscribe’ in this new world of subscriptions can be misconstrued to mean payment. ‘Follow’ is universally known as the generic social media term, which usually doesn’t incur payment.

It’s a logical change
 

Baritone_Guy

macrumors member
Feb 12, 2021
55
64
I think Apple would be doing themselves a favor by removing these apps from the core iOS and instead making them more like regular apps. Features, bug fixes etc could all be more flexible. Similar as to what Android has done. They could still make them uninstallable if they wanted.
 

DerHexer

macrumors newbie
Oct 29, 2007
19
26
As dumb as this change may sound for us tech-people. We are not the only users and I have to clarify for my grandma multiple times when she was afraid about the „subscribe“-buttons in apps like YouTube when following certain channels on her iPad. She is indeed afraid that it could cost money. This naming of subscribe has a totally different meaning for older people then us - and I am not only talking bout grandmother-old!
So makes sense for podcast as well to change this naming.
 

BugHunter

macrumors member
Mar 18, 2007
54
72
not the only users and I have to clarify for my grandma multiple times when she was afraid about the „subscribe“-buttons in apps like YouTube when following certain channels on her iPad. She is indeed afraid that it could cost money. This naming of subscribe has a totally different meaning for older people then us - and I am not only talking bout grandmother-old!
Exact same scenario for my mother.
It's probably good practise to standardise on wording, so I'm happy about this change.
 
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jimthing

macrumors 68000
Apr 6, 2011
1,773
955
London, UK (Europe, Earth, Space)
Paid podcasts. No thanks.

Any podcast that requires a paid subscription is an instant un-follow!

(what's the antonym of "Follow"? "Subscribe" has "Unsubscribe". But "Unfollow"...?)

EDIT: Dictionary says yes, "Unfollow" is a word apparently. Who knew. ?
 
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amartinez1660

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2014
1,317
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I find interesting that they are trying to NOT confuse people with the wording, the example with Get <-> Free for apps says it best. Because every seller in this world is trying to sneak in selling stuff behind the word free(*)
*tons of tiny lettered paragraphs of things to buy and pay tied to the supposedly free thing here. Including your data for some.
 
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johnmacward

macrumors regular
Jul 12, 2011
231
94
I hope they fix more than just that, such as a the overall navigation of the app which I find to be a nightmare. Trying to re-listen to an already heard episode means an enormous scroll to the bottom of the podcast list to both “Previously Played” and “See All Episodes” - why is this so hidden and far away?

Secondly, searching in the podcasts app is a travesty. Keywords are clearly in the description or title and STILL the search engine doesn’t show the correct results.

Podcasts needs a major upgrade.
 

MrCrowbar

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
2,136
368
Subscribe, Follow or get out of the way! :cool:

But yeah, I guess "subscribe" implies "costs money" nowadays whereas "follow" is free.
 

femike

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2011
814
1,452
Makes sense considering in today world.
But this change in wording is more about the preparation in transistioning to offer paid podcasts.
 

tobefirst ⚽️

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,472
2,034
St. Louis, MO
There are several podcasts that I don't subscribe to, but will occasionally check in on to see if there are any episodes I do want to listen to. Now, if I want to listen to the most recent episode, I click the "▶ Latest Episode" button and I'm...subscribed? Shouldn't a "▶ Latest Episode" button play the latest episode, and a "Follow" button subscribe me to the podcast?
 

tobefirst ⚽️

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,472
2,034
St. Louis, MO
"Today, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube are the three most widely used services to play podcasts, and now the word Subscribe means 'automatically download for free' in exactly none of them. Podcasters will have no choice but to adapt their language accordingly or risk confusing listeners."

YouTube still uses "Subscribe," or is this guy talking about something else?
 
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