A podcast is an episodic series of digital media files which a user can set up so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer or portable media player.
The word arose as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast.” The files thus distributed are typically audio or video, but may sometimes include other file formats such as PDF or ePub.
The distributor of a podcast maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that can be accessed through the Internet. The listener or viewer uses special client application software on a computer or media player, known as a podcatcher, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically, which may seem to the user as though new episodes are broadcast or “pushed” to them. Files are stored locally on the user’s device, ready for offline use. Podcasting contrasts with webcasting or streaming which do not allow for offline listening, although most podcasts may also be streamed on demand as an alternative to download. Many podcast players (apps as well as dedicated devices) nowadays allow adjusting the playback speed.
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