Updating Apple Podcast graphics
A Blog from Mike Irving, Software Developer
By Mike Irving - Published: 26/6/2020
A good friend of mine hosts a regular podcast, and I help out on the tech and promotion side. We re-branded it well over a year ago, yet the Apple Podcasts app never seemed to update, visually, to the new branding.
This has caused both of us a lot of frustration. It looks bad if you click through from one set of branding, such as on a Website or Facebook page, to then see what you though you'd be expecting is actually branded as something else, causing confusion and possibly meaning people don't bother with it.
The Podcast Recordings are actually uploaded to SoundCloud, and pushed out to other services from there.
When we did the re-branding, we updated the name, description, and graphics, both for the Podcast itself, and for past episodes.
Our other outlet services, including Sticher and Spotify, picked up very quickly.
Apple's Podcasts App, on iOS or Mac, didn't follow suit, and the iTunes web preview didn't either.
We dug around looking for guidance about the SoundCloud RSS feed, which the other services pull from.
We updated all graphics to a minimum 1400 Pixels Square, which is apparently what Apple likes.
Caching is obviously a thing. We knew that, like Google Search Crawls, Apple would likely crawl highly popular podcasts first, and we'd have to wait.
Days, Weeks went by.
We checked the RSS Feed manually, pulling out each Image URL, downloading the image, and checking the dimensions. Seemingly all good, but still no update.
We knew Apple reads the feed, as it had updated the text content, and regularly pulled new episodes just fine.
Looking further, I suspected the podcast must have been pushed to Apple at some point historically. They won't want to list any old rubbish, so there must have been a process.
I then found out about Podcasts Connect, part of iTunes Connect, similar to the App Store Connect service I use for app submissions.
My friend dug out his old Apple ID, and we logged in.. the podcast was listed!
Interestingly, the old imagery was shown, but the last refresh date was yesterday. Confusing.
There was a mention of the 1400 pixel requirement in an RSS 2.0 Spec Feed.. again we checked that, and it was fine.
I then went into the settings, simply the feed URL, and noticed the SoundCloud feed URL was an old http:// one.. so I simply changed it to https:// and clicked update. An on-screen message said the update may take up to 24 hours.
Refreshing my browser about a minute later, the new (by now over a year old) graphics appeared on the listing page.. and about 5 minutes later it appeared in the root page of Podcasts Connect too.
Within the hour, my iPhone Podcasts App had the new graphics, as did the Web Preview.
We have messed around with various things to resolve this for some time, and it's good to have a solution.
It's likely you can change the RSS Feed in any way, to kick off this update mechanism, so simply adding some dummy QueryString Data to the end of the URL would be a good idea.. ?v=2 .. then if you need to do it again down the line, change ot ?v=3 etc.
Anyhow, not my usual topic of blog post, but something I thought was worth sharing!
If you are stuck in a similar predicament, I hope the above helps.
For anyone intrigued as to the Podcast in question, check out Bane of My Life.
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