In our guide “How to build an education app?”, we noted how people are now primarily relying on their smartphones for content. This is also true for podcasts.
The market for podcasts is growing, so is the market for podcast apps. As a result, many entrepreneurs are eyeing the lucrative market of podcast streaming apps.
Are you such an entrepreneur who is planning to launch such an app? In that case, this guide on how to build a podcast streaming app like Pocket Casts is exactly what you need.
What is a podcast
The term “podcast” emerged as a result of combining the words iPod and broadcast. Podcasts refer to digital audio files, which are available on the Internet for you to download.
You can download podcasts to both computers and smartphones, and these are normally available as a series. If users subscribe to a podcast series, then they can receive the new episodes in the series automatically.
Podcasts can be audio recordings of any content. You can search for them and download, subsequently, you can listen to them at a convenient time. Read more about podcasts in “What is a podcast and how do they work?”.
The global market for podcasts
Experts believe that the market for podcasts will grow significantly. There are billions of Android and iOS smartphone users, and when they have more awareness of podcasts, this market will grow. Obviously, they need apps to access podcasts. Read more about this observation in “13 predictions for podcasting in 2019”.
The podcast industry had clocked $479.1 million in revenue in 2018. This industry will likely create $1 billion in annual revenue by 2021, according to this report from The Verge.
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Pocket Casts: An example of a podcast app
Let’s review Pocket Casts, an example of a podcast app. This innovative podcast app has a free version, moreover, there is a premium version. It offers the following features:
- The app has a user-friendly user interface (UI), and it shows subscribed podcasts in a tile format.
- App users can tap on a tile to see the episodes, and this also shows them the various download options.
- Pocket Casts is available both on Android as well as iOS.
- This app has a playlist feature that helps users to sort and categorize their downloaded content.
- Pocket Casts supports video podcasts, moreover, it has an auto-download feature.
- It helps to save storage space by automatically cleaning up downloaded episodes.
- Pocket Casts has several useful playback features, e.g., forward and back buttons, configurable time intervals, etc.
- This app offers in-app purchases.
There are other examples of popular podcast apps, and you can find them in “Best podcast apps”.
Building a podcast streaming app like Pocket Casts
How do you build a podcast streaming app? I will now explain the steps required for this, which are as follows:
1. Scope definition for the project
As the first step, you need to hire a project manager (PM), an IT architect, and business analysts. This team should conduct discussions with the business stakeholders and collect business requirements.
I recommend that you define the following scope for this project:
- Offer an Android and an iOS app for the English-speaking audience.
- Include podcast-related features like Pocket Casts.
- The app should offer in-app purchases.
You should also build a website for the online marketing of your app.
2. Prepare for including other language support in future
While creating the app for the English-speaking audience now, you should prepare to support more languages in the future. This requires you to follow several best practices, e.g., you should keep your content separate from the code.
These best practices fall within the ambit of app internationalization. You can learn more about this in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
3. Select an appropriate SDLC model for the project
You can launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) with the scope I have recommended above. Subsequently, you can gather feedback from the market and enhance the app.
You will find Agile as the right SDLC model for such projects. This model supports iterative development, and you can learn more about it in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.
4. Agree on a development approach
Your PM and IT architect should devise an appropriate development approach, and I recommend the following:
- Use WordPress, the popular open-source content management system (CMS) to build the proposed website.
- Develop native Android and iOS apps since native apps deliver the best user experience and performance.
- Use managed cloud services platforms like Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) to expedite the project. This helps you to focus on development since you don’t need to manage IT infrastructure.
- Utilize application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to implement core features since this expedites the project.
- Improve your test coverage with the help of a test automation aid.
I have earlier explained the value of such an approach in “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?”.
5. Form the complete development team
At this point, you need to form the rest of the project team. You need the following roles:
- UI designers;
- Android developers with Java skill;
- iOS developers with Objective-C skill;
- DevOps engineers.
Are you planning to hire freelancers? I suggest that you hire a field expert development team instead, given the coding effort involved in this project. Read “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” for more insights.
6. Acquire a project management tool
Project planning and execution are keys to the success of this project, therefore, you need an effective PM tool. However, let’s first discuss how you should manage this project.
You should consider using the “Scrum” technique in this project since it helps to manage Agile projects. I have explained this technique in “How to build a Scrum development team?”, and it has the following characteristics:
- The PM should form a “Scrum team”, which is a cross-functional team where developers and testers work together. A scrum team is led by a “Scrum master”, and the PM performs this role.
- A “Product Owner” provides the business requirements in a document named the “Product Backlog”.
- The team estimates the requirements and schedules them in “Sprints”, i.e., iterations.
- A scrum team conducts “Daily stand-up meetings” to discuss the project status.
- The business stakeholders review the app in a “Sprint review meeting” and approve it provided the app meets the requirements.
- The scrum team also conducts a lessons-learned exercise named the “Sprint retrospective meeting” after each sprint.
I recommend that you use Asana in this project, which is a robust tool for managing Agile projects.
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7. Sign-up for an MBaaS platform
You need an MBaaS platform to expedite the development of the mobile app. As I had explained in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”, MBaaS providers offer several advantages, e.g.:
- MBaaS providers handle cloud infrastructure, persistent storage, etc. This eliminates the time-consuming tasks of building and managing the mobile backend, therefore, you can focus on the front-end.
- Using an MBaaS platform makes it easy to secure your mobile app, moreover, you will find it easy to implement features like user management and push notifications.
- You can easily integrate 3rd party APIs when you use an MBaaS platform.
- MBaaS providers help you to scale your mobile app.
I recommend that you use AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS offering from AWS.
You can also use the same AWS account to host your proposed WordPress website. Amazon Lightsail is the appropriate AWS offering for this since it enables secure and reliable WordPress hosting. Lightsail allows you to host your WordPress site on a virtual private server (VPS).
8. Find a suitable WordPress theme for the proposed website
Procuring a suitable WordPress theme will help you to create a website with a professional look & feel. I recommend “Megaphone – Audio podcast WordPress theme” for this purpose since it’s suitable for Podcasting businesses.
It’s a fully responsive theme that offers excellent layouts and templates. Megaphone has excellent documentation, and you can find it on its website.
Use WooCommerce, which has a powerful plugin for implementing eCommerce on your WordPress sites. It’s easy to configure, thanks to its comprehensive documentation available on its website.
9. Get an API solution for searching podcasts
Users of your proposed podcast app will need to find podcasts of their choice, subsequently, they will download and listen to them. While your development team needs to code the download and playback functions using the device features, you need the capability to search for podcasts.
Your app will be able to access its vast podcast database with over 700,000 podcasts and millions of episodes. “Listen API” is fast and scalable, moreover, you can get reliable customer support.
10. Procure an eCommerce API solution
You need an eCommerce API solution for quickly implementing the in-app purchase feature, therefore, I recommend that you use BigCommerce. The BigCommerce API solution will help you to implement all key features like cart, catalog, etc.
BigCommerce provides extensive learning resources for its APIs, and you can access them on the BigCommerce Help Center. Read the BigCommerce pricing FAQs page to study its pricing plans and billing options.
11. Find a payment gateway API solution
Your app needs a payment gateway integration, therefore, I suggest that you use Stripe. It has a robust API/SDK solution, and you can consult the following resources to use it:
- Stripe documentation;
- Its “Payments overview” webpage;
- The “API reference” page on the Stripe website;
- Its iOS SDK documentation on the “Stripe on iOS” webpage;
- The “Stripe on Android” SDK guide.
Read “Pricing built for businesses of all sizes” to understand the pricing plans of Stripe.
12. Get a bulk SMS API solution
A podcast app needs the “push notifications” feature to engage its users, and you should consider using a bulk SMS solution to implement this feature. Twilio has the right API solution for this, and that’s its “Programmable SMS” offering.
13. Find a mobile device lab on the cloud for test automation
The mobile apps need to work on all devices, therefore, it’s important that you test them against a wide range of mobile devices. You need a mobile device lab on the cloud for this, and Experitest offers just that.
14. Designing the website and the mobile app UI
This step involves the following:
- The UI design team should follow the WordPress theme documentation to design the website.
- They need to consult the “Human Interface Guidelines” to design the UI for the iOS app.
- The team needs to follow the “Material design” guidelines to design the Android app UI.
15. Developing the Android app
You should code the Android app using Java, moreover, you should use Android Studio, the popular IDE for Android development. This involves the following:
- Integrate the SDKs/APIs from Stripe, BigCommerce, Twilio, and “Listen API” in your code.
- Use Espresso and the Experitest mobile device lab to test the app.
- Publish the app to Google Play, by following the instructions in “Publish your app”.
16. iOS app development
The next step is to develop the proposed iOS app, and this involves the following:
- Code the app using Objective-C, and use Xcode as your IDE.
- Integrate the above-mentioned SDKs/APIs in your app.
- Test the app using XCTest and the Experitest mobile device lab.
- Read “Submit your apps to the App Store”, and publish the app to the Apple App Store by following the relevant instructions.
Planning to build that great podcast app?
You can expedite your project with the help of this guide, platforms, tools, and frameworks. However, developing a podcast app requires a good deal of coding, and I recommend that you engage a well-established software development company for such a project. Read “How to find the best software development company?” before you select such a development partner.
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I love all things blockchain and related to app development. What time I have when I am not busy writing for the DevTeam.Space blog of over 350 articles, I spend sitting around wondering what the future will look like 50 years from now.
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