Podcasts on Your iPod

What is a podcast? A podcast is a multimedia file that an iPod user can receive through a paid or free subscription over the Internet. The podcast uses syndication feeds or “RSS feeds.” They can be played back on your iPod, mp3 player or personal computer. The podcast has been around since 2000 and by 2003 regular podcasts were being broadcasted across the web.

Podcasting is a version of push technology which allows the subscriber to choose feed channels. The multimedia files are transferred from a server to a client, which pulls XML files containing Internet address of the available media files. These files may contain audio, video, images, text, PDF and other file types.

The content provider then acknowledges the existence of the different files by referring these file through another file known as a “feed.” The feed is the list of URLs where the files may be found. This is generally done through a file published in RSS or Atom format. This format provides information such as the publishing date, titles, text descriptions and possibly even pictures. In general podcasts are one feed from one author, however, multiple authors are able to contribute episodes through a single podcast feed in public podcasting.

These feeds are posted on web servers and should be permanent in their location. The provider makes the feed known to the intended audience. For example, if you were to purchase a subscription to a podcast, the provider would provide you with the podcast feed URL. In order to manage your feeds, you will need a podcatcher or receiver to subscribe to and manage feeds. ITunes allows users to do this through their software. Users are also able to subscribe to free or paid podcasts. Users are then able to transfer their podcasts to their iPod or other mp3 player. Users do not have to have an iPod to receive podcasts.

Podcasts were initially intended for broadcasting radio shows and similar media. The system is so versatile that they have been used for distribution of school lessons, audio tours of museums, conference meeting alerts and updates and even by police departments for public distribution of safety messages. Podcasts are very versatile and unique, which allows them to be used with various different types of media.

There are several other different types of podcasting and distribution networks. There is autocasting, blogcasting, social media, streaming media and user content. Distribution networks include Content Delivery Network, MMS podcast, Mobilecast, Peercasting, VoiceCast and Webcasting. There are also audio podcasting services such as MP3 blog, Phonecasting, Skypecasting, Soundseeing Tour and video image podcasting such as Photofeed, Video Podcast and Screencast.

Podcasting is not related directly to the iPod and Apple did not develop the name of the podcast. Several different media players may download Podcasts and you do not need an iPod to subscribe to one. ITunes does make it easier for the iPod user to have access to podcasts. Podcasts can be very informative or used for entertainment. ITunes allows you to download casts by various artists as well as comedians and other stations. ITunes also offers paid and free subscriptions to podcasts.

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