Apple acquires interesting AI podcast as radio startup, ScoutFM
Apple has acquired ScoutFM, a startup that was working to make listening to podcasts more like listening to radio stations.
It’s just the latest in a sequence of steps taken by the iPhone maker a it reportedly works to improve its podcasting services.
What did ScoutFM make?
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, the company was founded in 2017 by Cara Meverden, Saul Carlin, and Dan McCartney.
ScoutFM hand-curated channels of podcasts in radio like feeds for playback. Their Crunchbase listing said:
“They create talk radio stations with the latest, highest quality radio shows, and podcasts, and then personalize these stations for each listener.”
ScoutFM feeds were made to reflect a person’s interests, so a cricket fan would end up with arguably the most boring podcast channel in the world, while fans of the excellent Novara Media may end up with something more interesting.
The service figured out interests using a person’s listening history, preferences and AI-driven suggestions. The app was shut down soon after the acquisition.
What is Apple doing?
Apple seems to be working to improve its offer around podcasting. The company recruited former National Geographic director of Podcasts, Emily Ochsenslager in 2019, and is thought to be developing its own series of podcasts in support of its Apple TV+ shows at this time.
The Podcast app currently lets you search for feeds you already know about and browse for more using an iTunes-like interface.
The idea here must surely be to improve the suggested shows the service offers to users while also providing an Apple Music-like immersive listening experience. Will it rely on human editors?
In a discussion with TechCrunch, founder Cara Meverden said:
“We want to take podcast listening mainstream. We thinkthe key to that is making podcasts as easy to listen to as the radio – and we think that’s even more critically important, as we enter thesmart speaker era.”
With Apple set to make news with new services, TV+ and anticipated new HomePod and Apple TV hardware in the coming weeks, might it have fresh podcasting plans up its sleeve? It seems plausible.
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