Transcript-centric podcast app Transcript-centric podcast app

For many years, I moaned and groaned about the lack of easily accessible transcripts in podcasting. Apps like Descript tempted me to scratch my own itch, but I shelved my idle designs when faced with the economic realities of high-quality transcription. In 2021, I realized that the stars were finally aligning to make an app like this viable. So I set out to design a first-class podcast transcript experience.

What does first-class transcript support look like?

As I designed the app, I was heavily inspired by the transcript editing experience in Descript, a transcript-based audio/video editor. I did my best to give listeners a similarly magical experience.


One of the major components of that is word-by-word timestamps. That fidelity is necessary to unlock the most delightful features in transcripts. At the time, I don’t believe any other podcast app was taking advantage of the JSON transcript format to provide “karaoke-style” word highlights alongside the audio.

Reading the transcript while listening to the audio was simple enough, but supporting video podcasts introduced some additional complexity. I eventually landed on a Picture-in-Picture solution allowing the user to resize and reposition the video to suit their needs.

Transcripts also serve as the foundation for a number of other features including keyword search, bookmarking highlights, clipping audiograms, and sharing timestamped links.

Uploading Transcripts

Generating transcripts myself would have been unsustainable. In 2021, podcasters started adopting the <podcast:transcript> tag so they could supply transcripts to podcast apps. However, this feature wasn’t available across all hosting providers.

To help encourage increased adoption of podcast transcripts, I devised a solution for podcasters to upload their transcript to the app.

Final Thoughts

At it’s peak, reached 4500 monthly active users, and I’m grateful to everyone who sent me thoughtful feedback and kind words along the way. Ultimately, I accomplished what I set out to do: a proof-of-concept for first-class podcast transcripts, and eventually, Apple Podcasts released their own take on transcripts that validated my approach by making many similar design choices.

Launching my own podcast app was an enormously rewarding experience. I thought I knew all the ins-and-outs of the nature of podcasting, but taught me so much more and connected me to so many industry icons along the way. I’m glad to have played any small part in advancing the adoption of the <podcast:transcript> tag, and I’m look forward to whatever comes next for this industry.