Print, meet your cool new friend: the iPod. Starting today, we at Slate are making one of our most popular features available in a brand-new format. We call it a “textcast,” a podcast in which the main thing being delivered to your iPod is text rather than audio.
The idea is simple: Subscribe to our new Today’s Papers textcast feed just as you would to any other podcast. Every morning, we’ll deliver to your iPod a small file containing the full text of that day’s summary of the top stories from the nation’s best newspapers. You can then read the text right on your iPod’s screen. (Note: At the moment, this service works only with iTunes and relatively recent iPods with screens.)
As I wrote back in February, the iPod is not currently configured as a text reader, so we’ve done our best to work around the device’s limitations. (Here’s hoping Apple will make its cash cow more text-friendly in future releases.) That said, I’ve been testing the TP textcast for several weeks now, and I find it very easy to use. Plus, I love that Today’s Papers just shows up in my iPod automatically each day.
Here’s a little more detail on how the textcast works: The text is actually contained in a 15-minute audio file. (It’s 15 minutes of silence, which is how we make the file so small.) Play the file as you would any other podcast, and then hit the iPod’s center button two or three times until you reach the description field, which contains the full TP text. You can scroll through the text using the iPod’s scroll wheel.
Subscribers to Slate’s Explainer podcast know we’ve been including the full text of each day’s “Explainer” as a companion to the audio version for several months now. The Today’s Papers textcast is our first text-only offering. (In fact, we believe it’s the first of its kind from any major media company.) We think of it as a great way to increase the number of Slate features available as podcasts without making me and June Thomas hoarse from too much reading aloud.
We welcome you to give the TP textcast a spin and send us your feedback. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to subscribe to our audio offerings: the Slate daily podcast and the Slate Explainer podcast.