Automatic transcripts of shows in the Apple Podcasts app on iPhone is a new feature in iOS 17.4 that provides an experience similar to time-synced lyrics on Apple Music.

Apple Podcasts on iPhone displaying tooltip about episode transcript availability
Hit this icon to show transcription | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

The convenient feature works in the Apple Podcasts app on iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4, currently in testing. The app is also available on the Mac, but Apple has not yet launched a new beta cycle for Sonoma so it’s currently unavailable in macOS. Not to worry though as podcast transcripts will come to the Mac in a future update.

MacStories contributor Niléane first discovered this feature and shared it on Mastodon. We’ve also consulted Apple’s documentation to bring you the nitty-gritty.

iOS 17.4 brings live transcripts of podcast shows

When listening to a podcast episode, hit the mini-player at the bottom to show fullscreen controls. If there’s transcription available for this show, you’ll see an icon in the bottom-left resembling the live lyrics icon on Apple Music.

Transcript for an Arnold's Pump Club episode on Apple Podcasts on iPhone
Introducing transcripts on Apple Podcasts | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

A tooltip informs you that you can read along, search the episode for a specific word or phrase and quickly skip to key moments. As mentioned, the whole experience is strikingly similar to time-synced lyrics on Apple Music, where lines scroll as the music plays, and you can touch any verse to jump to that point.

How to navigate transcripts on Apple Podcasts

With podcast transcripts, you hit the text to play from that point in the episode. Transcribed words are highlighted as you listen, making it easy to follow along. You can touch and hold a specific passage in the transcript to copy or share text, etc.
Contextual menu in show transcription on Apple Podcasts on iPhone If you prefer static text, choose View Transcript from the ellipsis menu. This is especially useful if you want to precisely select and copy a piece of raw text.
Viewing episode transcription as raw text in Apple Podcasts on iPhone To scrub through the transcript with the timestamp, grab the scroll bar.
Scrubbing through show transcription in Apple Podcasts on iPhoneTo search the episode for a specific word or phrase, touch the Search button at the bottom of the transcript. This interface is similar to searching within a page in Safari.
Transcript for an Arnold's Pump Club episode on Apple Podcasts on iPhoneA panel appears at the bottom where you can see the number of search term occurrences and hit the up or down arrow to jump to other mentions.

Availability of transcripts on Apple Podcasts

Podcast transcripts can be accessed in over 170 countries and regions, according to the Apple Podcasts for Creators page on Apple’s website.

Episode transcript settings on Apple Podcasts Connect
Creators can upload their own transcripts | Image: Apple screenshot

Apple explains that transcripts are available with iOS 17.4 for English, French, German and Spanish podcasts, with back catalog episodes being added over time.

Apple automatically generates transcripts after a new episode is published. Your episode will be available for listening right away, and the transcript will be available shortly afterwards. There will be a short delay while we process your transcript. If portions of your episode change with dynamically inserted audio, Apple Podcasts will not display the segments of the audio that have changed since the original transcription. Music lyrics are also not displayed in the transcripts.

Creators can also choose to upload their own transcripts via Apple Podcasts Connect. The feature has a privacy component baked in—  explicit episodes won’t show transcripts if the user has turned on content restrictions.

How is this possible?

When you update your iPhone to iOS 17.4, all podcast shows in your library should display automatically-generated transcription.

The feature is currently in beta, so there are a few rough edges. For example, transcripts don’t seem to be available for shows added from external sources via URL. This is a result of Apple’s ongoing investment in machine learning.

As an example of what’s already possible, iOS 17 transcribes voice messages and lets you see a real-time transcription as the other party speaks.

Your iPhone, iPad and Mac can also generate live captions of audio or spoken dialogue on the fly, including in apps like FaceTime.

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