Podcasts have existed in one form or another for about twenty years. But, it’s taken nearly all that time for audio fiction or audio drama podcasts to have their own category in Apple Podcasts. In 2019, Apple finally created a Fiction category, with the sub-categories Sci-fi, Drama, and Comedy. Other directories have followed suit. Unfortunately, no listening app has acknowledged the wide range of entertainment that exists in fiction podcasts. That is, until now. Ladies, gentlemen, and friends beyond the binary, I bring you Apollo, The Fiction Podcast App.
Yes, Another Podcast Listening App
If you have one app for music, and another listening app for podcasts, you might hesitate to add a third. Specificity, though, is what makes Apollo shine.
Apollo is still in open beta testing. The pixellated logo speaks to that. Not only is the app new, but also the team is adding new modules, and adapting to user feedback. In fact, their feedback button takes up as much space on the screen as “discover,” “search,” “library,” and “profile.” They want you to communicate with them.
So, yes, you can listen to fiction podcasts on other apps. Apollo not only makes fiction podcasts the centre of attention but also, draws attention to the wide range of topics and talent in the field.
Categories, Lists, Moods and More
When you want fiction, you want to satisfy an emotional need. Apollo’s Discovery tab has the categories you’d expect at first, such as “New and Noteworthy,” and genres you’d expect to find in most libraries (Adventure, History, Western, and so on). Then, the list criteria become more granular. For example, Apollo makes the distinction between Horror, Supernatural, and Thriller. There are also special lists, to highlight creators or fill listeners’ needs.
So, if you’re “New to Audio Fiction,” looking for “LGBTQIA Podcasts,” or need “Shows for A Good Cry,” there are at least a few lists for you. Right now, Amber Rose (formerly of Bello Collective) assists with curating lists, and Tal Minear of Sidequesting (and more) has helped. In the future Apollo may expand their curation strategy.
Manual Tagging and Filtered Search
Apollo uses The Podcast Index API. And, you can submit your fiction podcast directly to Apollo’s directory. Plus, the team manually tagged every show in their directory with relevant data. They know that a show isn’t a product, like a can of peas, it’s a multi-faceted experience.
If I type “Scottish” into their search engine, the first three podcasts to appear all have “Scottish” in the title or description. Most listening apps would lump these into the same category, forcing the description to do the heavy lifting. There isn’t a whole lot of room on a phone screen, though. Apollo’s tagging system shows me at a glance that one has comic aspects, one features science fiction, and one is a musical.
Tapping the slider symbol at the top shows me all the tags Apollo uses to describe different podcasts. If I want single-voice-narration horror stories from Singapore or a Canadian LGBTQ+ cinematic Western, I can get that in three clicks.
Most importantly, Apollo is a podcast app that understands how most audio fiction works. Most stories are more satisfying when you consume the episodes in a particular order. Some podcast apps will let you listen from the oldest episode to the newest, or vice versa. But, many apps order episodes by publication date, rather than putting the episodes in sequence (unless you create a playlist or queue). Apollo understands that fiction podcast app users need to let the story unfold the way the producer intends.
Libraries, Following and Community
When you set up your account in Apollo, clicking on the bookmark symbol with any podcast title adds it to your library. A node symbol opens your device’s share menu, so you can post the link on social media, paste it into an email, share it however you like. Currently, Apollo is only inviting specific audio drama creators to submit lists for their front page. The good news is that they hope to make a more dynamic home page with user-created lists. In the meantime, you can make playlists in your library and share them wherever you prefer.
Apollo lets you tap a heart emoji to show what you think of each episode.
Apollo’s Mission Is Discovery
Apollo is a good fiction podcast app, and it’s getting better. Again, it’s in an open beta test now. If you enjoy fiction podcasts, try it, and send them feedback. Apollo works so well because of the manual tags and human effort that goes into making ficiton podcasts easy to find, recommend and share. Since there’s a wide variety of audio drama podcasts and creators, it’ll be exciting to see how the variety changes as Apollo includes more users in the process.
One final thing, too – if you’re a fan or creator of fiction podcasts, be sure to subscribe to the Fiction Podcast Weekly newsletter. It’s your one-stop-shop for staying up to date with all things fiction podcasting.