AmazonPhonestuff

Finding content within a podcast episode is not especially easy, and jumping to the exact moment to hear a specific portion of a conversation is a feature still mostly unavailable. But Amazon Music says its news synchronized transcription feature will solve that conundrum, giving listeners the option to follow along to an episode with a written transcript.

Similar to the popular lyrics feature introduced by Amazon Music in 2013, the new podcast feature allows listeners to follow along or seek ahead in an episode, similar to thumbnail previews when scrubbing videos. While listening, customers can navigate an episode by scrolling through the transcript to find a specific spot, and tap to jump right to it. Playback will resume at the specific sentence they tap on in the transcription, making it easy for listeners to navigate to the part of the podcast they are most interested in.

Listeners can also jump forward and backward while viewing the transcript to find a segment they have missed, or look ahead to quickly know what an episode is about. Amazon says the result is it makes navigation easier than ever. (watch a video demo HERE).

“We are leading the industry by introducing synchronized podcast transcripts for customers, to make it easier than ever for listeners to follow along with their favorite podcasts on Amazon Music,” said Kintan Brahmbhatt, Amazon Music’s Director of Podcasts. “With synchronized transcripts, we are changing the way listeners experience podcasts by making it effortless and simple for everyone.”

One thing that will not be transcribed is advertising. Instead, listeners will see a message that a transcription is not available for that portion of the episode.

Synchronized transcriptions are being rolled out in phases. So far Amazon Music has made them available in the U.S. for recent episodes of select Amazon Original and Wondery podcasts like SmartLess, Dr. Death, and Uncommon Ground With Van Jones, plus popular hit shows My Favorite Murder, Crime Junkie, Modern Love, and This American Life.

Transcripts will also be available for select shows from American Public Media, Audiochuck, Cadence13, The New York Times, Stitcher, and TED.

Podcast transcripts start rolling out for customers in the U.S. today in the latest version of the Amazon Music app on iOS and Android.

Since Amazon Music launched podcasts in 2020, it has also added the feature in Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, and India. It has not yet said whether it plans to add synchronized transcriptions in any of those countries, although the other English-speaking markets are likely to be added first.

“At Amazon, we always start with the customer experience and work backwards from there,” said Brahmbhatt.

Spotify announced in May that it would beta-launch a new auto transcription feature for select Spotify Original and Exclusive podcasts. Rather than episode navigation, Spotify said its aim was to make podcasts more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. Similar to Amazon Music, Spotify’s feature will automatically generate transcripts for the shows, allowing users to read the text of the specific podcasts on their phones either with or without sound. Users will also be able to quickly scroll and navigate through specific episodes and click on any written paragraph to start playing from that point.

“This is just the first step for the podcast transcript experience: Our overall ambition is to enable transcripts across all podcasts on Spotify,” the company said. although that has not yet happened. Spotify said in the spring that it would work with people with disabilities to conduct user research and plan to evaluate and assess its ideas.