If you want to find a stranger to record a podcast with, Anchor has you covered. Less than two months after the the DIY podcasting app Anchor underwent a major revision, the service is ready to announce another notable new feature: Cohosts. As the name implies, Cohosts lets Anchor users quickly match up with others who want to talk about similar topics -- ideally, this will help facilitate group discussions, rather than forcing a podcaster to forge ahead on their own. Anchor was originally built as a community of users sharing audio, so letting those users get together to host a show fits with the app's social audio roots. To use the Cohosts feature, you start by either picking a topic from Anchor's home screen or by adding your own custom topic, which can be as broad or specific as you want. Once the app finds you a match, Anchor basically puts both users into a shared call and gives you a scant 30 seconds to chat before a recording automatically starts. That recording is capped to 15 minutes, and bother users get a copy of the recording once it is finished -- it can be published directly to a new podcast or add as part of a bigger episode later. If you happen to hit it off with your Anchor match, the app will let you record with them again using a "record with friends" feature. That feature removes the 15-minute time limit that comes with a first match. Of course, people act horrible on the internet, so Anchor is putting some protections in place to help avoid abuse. According to TechCrunch, Anchor asks you to rate your cohost with a simple thumbs-up or down once you're done recording. If you choose thumbs-down, the app will prompt you to tell it why so Anchor can investigate; if someone has abusive or otherwise troublesome on the platform, Anchor will ban them. Anchor says that Cohosts is available today in its Android and iOS apps, and it's free, like the rest of Anchor's features.
Fresh off its relaunch as an app offering a suite of tools for podcasters, Anchor today is rolling a new feature that will make it easier for people to find someone to podcast with: Cohosts. As the name implies, the app will now connect you – sometimes immediately, if people are available – with another person whos interested in discussing the topic youve chosen. The result is a more engaging podcast where a conversation is taking place between two people, rather than a monologue. We give people the ability to choose a topic that they want to talk about on their podcasts, and the product will get to work trying to match you up with someone who wants to talk about the exact thing, explains Anchor CEO Mike Mignano. At first, Anchor will try to match you with someone whos also currently in the app, he says. If its not able to do that, then it will notify you when it finds a match through an alert on your phone. Weve developed an intelligent matching system to make sure theres a high likelihood that you get matched up with someone that wants to talk at the same time, Mignano notes. The topics users select can be either broad – like politics – or narrow and hyper-specific, the company says. One youve been offered a connection to a cohost, you have 30 seconds to meet in the app and decide how you want to get started. The recording will then start automatically, and will continue for up to 15 minutes. Both users will receive a copy of the recording and can choose to publish it to their own podcast right away, or save it for later. After the recording, podcasters rate each other with a simple thumbs up or down. (If down, youll need to select a reason in case Anchor needs to step in and review bad behavior. Bad actors will no longer be permitted to use the service.) If both give each other a thumbs up, though, theyll automatically be favorited on each others account, so they can find each other again. Next time they want to record, theyll have the option to team up through Anchors Record with Friends feature, where theres no time limit. Those who are highly rated will also get better ranked in the matching algorithm, Anchor notes. If a podcaster has a particular topic in mind – like wanting to discuss Stephen King novels, for example – Mignano continues, theyre very likely to return to the app when they get a match, the team found during testing. The Cohosts feature was beta tested with a small subset of users prior to todays launch, but the company declines to share how many users tested it or how many people are currently using the app to create podcasts. However, the apps big makeover which took place in February basically turned Anchor into a different kind of app – so its still establishing a new user base. While before, the app was focused on recording audio, Anchor 3.0 is meant to be a podcasting suite in your pocket. The new version includes recording features with no time limits, a built-in library of transition sounds, tools for adding music, support for voice messages (a call-in like feature), free hosting, and a push button experience for publishing to share your podcast to all the top platforms. Matching cohosts in teams of two may just be the start. Mignano hints that a future version of Anchor may include more flexibility on the number of cohosts. You can imagine us doing something like, if the user specifies the topic, they can indicate how many people they want to have a conversation with, he teases. The new feature recalls Anchors roots as a platform for social audio. Its something weve been thinking about for a while, says Mignano. If you think back to Anchor 2.0 – and 3.0, as well – weve always wanted to make Anchor a little more interactive than a standard podcasting platform. To us, democratizing audio doesnt just mean making it easier to create. It also means modernizing the format by making it more shareable, easier to interact with, short form, etc. , he says. The Cohosts feature is rolling out today in Anchors app.