Apple Podcasts App

Automatic Downloads on Apple Podcasts

About Automatic Downloads

Automatic Downloads make it easy for listeners to play and resume the podcasts they follow from any device — no matter their current device, location, or internet connectivity. On Apple Podcasts, Automatic Downloads are enabled for all shows that listeners follow by default and feature built-in protections to preserve cellular data usage and local storage.

Automatic Downloads work in the background for shows when a device is charged and connected to Wi-Fi. As listeners follow shows, and new episodes are published, those episodes are automatically downloaded in the background. When a listener opens Apple Podcasts, they will see those new episodes in the Up Next queue at the top of the Listen Now tab and in the Library tab. Depending on a device’s settings, or the preferences configured for a specific show, new episodes may begin to download when a listener opens Apple Podcasts instead of downloading in the background. Listeners can see which episodes have been downloaded by looking for the download icon to the right of an episode.

Episodic vs. serialized shows

When a listener follows a show, Apple Podcasts will begin automatically downloading between one and three episodes, depending on the podcast’s “show type.” Automatic Downloads have specific behaviors for the different types of shows to help listeners start from the best place.

Episodic shows

When a listener follows a show categorized by the creator as “episodic,” the latest episode is automatically downloaded for instant offline playback. Episodic shows often feature news briefs, interviews, and conversations among hosts. That means they do not need to be listened to in a specific order, though listeners tend to start or resume from the latest episode, if not a recent episode. New shows are categorized as episodic if a creator does not specify a show type.

Serialized shows

When a listener follows a show categorized by the creator as “serialized,” the first three episodes are automatically downloaded for instant offline playback. Serialized shows are often those where listeners want to start from the beginning, such as documentaries, investigative reports, or fictionalized narratives. 

Multiple seasons

If a serialized show is also segmented into multiple seasons, the first three episodes from the latest season are automatically downloaded.

Complete series

If a serialized show is identified as a “complete series,” meaning all episodes have been published and no additional episodes are expected, the first three episodes from the first season are automatically downloaded.

Bonus episodes and trailers

Episodes categorized as “bonus” are treated the same as episodes categorized as “full,” meaning they are also automatically downloaded. When a listener follows an episodic show where a bonus episode is the latest published episode, that bonus episode is automatically downloaded. Similarly, when a listener follows a serialized show, and a bonus episode is among the first three episodes, that bonus episode is automatically downloaded. This also applies to shows with multiple seasons or categorized as a complete series.

If a show only contains a trailer, then it will be automatically downloaded. Otherwise, trailers are not automatically downloaded.

These behaviors may change from time to time as new features are introduced.

For listeners on iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS 11.3 or later, the Smart Play button located at the top of each show page automatically presents a show’s trailer, if available. Otherwise, the Smart Play button will present the latest episode for episodic shows and the first episode for serialized shows.

Creators can view and adjust their show type, add season and episode numbers, and mark shows as “complete series” in Apple Podcasts Connect or through a third-party hosting provider. Learn more about submitting and managing your show.

Low Power Mode

Low Power Mode reduces the amount of power that your device uses when the battery gets low so that it lasts longer before you need to charge it. When a listener’s device is set to Low Power Mode, Automatic Downloads in the background are paused. When listeners open Apple Podcasts, they will see any new episodes that have been published by shows they follow, which will be automatically downloaded while the app remains open.

Automatic Downloads with Apple Watch

Listeners use Apple Watch to enjoy podcasts on the go. To help them stay up to date on the shows they follow, Apple Watch will add one episode from each of the top 10 shows available in Up Next from the paired iPhone by default. As new episodes appear in Up Next on iPhone, they are also downloaded to Apple Watch while Apple Watch is connected to power, and played episodes are removed from Apple Watch to preserve local storage.

On iPhone, listeners can adjust episode download preferences to Apple Watch to download episodes from specific shows.

Listeners can adjust how episodes are added to Apple Watch from the “Podcasts” section of the Watch app on the paired iPhone. After selecting “Custom,” listeners can choose to add Saved episodes, episodes included in a custom Station, and episodes from specific shows. If listeners select a custom Station, Apple Watch will download as many unplayed episodes as possible with available storage. If listeners select specific shows, Apple Watch will download the latest three unplayed episodes for episodic shows or the first three episodes of the latest season for serialized shows. Downloaded episodes are refreshed when Apple Watch is connected to power.

Episodes dowloaded to Apple Watch are available even when out of range of iPhone and cellular connectivity. Apple Watch does not use cellular to download episodes.

When Automatic Downloads are paused

If a listener hasn’t played a show that they follow for more than 15 days, and hasn’t played the latest five episodes, Apple Podcasts pauses Automatic Downloads for that show to preserve local storage. With iOS 14.5 and later, this change in behavior is communicated to listeners with a pause button icon on the follow icon located at the top of the show page.

If a listener resumes playing that show, or changes the download preferences for that show, Apple Podcasts will resume downloading new episodes for instant offline playback. Automatic Downloads will be paused again if the listener does not play a show they follow for more than 15 days and hasn’t played the latest five episodes. Automatic Downloads are unaffected if a show does not publish a new episode for 15 days or more. 

Also, when listeners unfollow and re-follow a show, Apple Podcasts recognizes that the latest episode was already automatically downloaded, so it will not be automatically downloaded again. Instead, if the listener continues to the follow the show, only new episodes will be automatically downloaded.  Automatic Downloads are paused when a device is out of available storage and will resume when more storage is made available.

A pause icon appears in the top right corner of the Podcasts app on iPhone to indicate that the automatic downloads of episodes from a show are paused.

Turn off Automatic Downloads

Listeners can turn off Automatic Downloads for specific shows from the corresponding show pages. They can also disable Automatic Downloads when following a show from Settings > Podcasts on iOS and iPadOS or Podcasts > Preferences on macOS. Automatic Downloads are not available on Apple TV, HomePod and HomePod mini, CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and other smart speakers and car systems. Episodes played through these devices are streamed when listeners play.

Configure downloads over cellular

Automatic Downloads will not use cellular data by default. Listeners may choose to enable Cellular Downloads for instances where they may not have a Wi-Fi connection but would like to save episodes for offline playback, such as when commuting or traveling. Listeners can enable Cellular Downloads from Settings on iOS and iPadOS and can select whether the system should “Always Allow,” “Ask If Over 200 MB,” or “Always Ask.” Listeners can also choose to Block Downloads Over Cellular, which will prevent Automatic Downloads and Manual Downloads from beginning while a listener is not connected to Wi-Fi.

Remove downloads

Listeners can remove downloads for episodes from their devices. On iOS and iPadOS, listeners can press on a show or episode and select “Remove Download,” tap on the “...” button and select “Remove Download,” or swipe to the left on an episode in a list and select “Remove Download.” On macOS, listeners can right click on a show or episode and select “Remove Download.”

Measure podcast performance

The Analytics tab in Apple Podcasts Connect displays key metrics and charts about a show's performance, including listeners, plays, and the top countries and regions for the audience.

Automatic Downloads provide a seamless experience for listeners. They are not designed to measure listener engagement and may provide an incomplete view of this behavior. Analytics in Apple Podcasts Connect offers a robust set of insights and visualization tools to help creators understand how listeners are engaging with their shows and episodes. Explore new analytics features and understand your analytics.