anchor app
Credit: Image by Anchor

This article was originally published in July 2017, and has been updated to include the latest update (version 2.15.0), which allows users to record audio with other people.

Podcasting has been growing in popularity since the early noughties as a way to pass the time on a long commute or catch up on an entertaining radio show.

Fortunately, technology has advanced enough that anyone with a smartphone can now produce their own content – a technique often used by professionals, even at larger news organisations with bigger budgets.

Anchor, a free app for iOS and Android, allows journalists to record and share their audio content on the go, all while enabling users to easily publish podcasts to major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

It was initially designed to encourage people to record and play short pieces of audio within the app, but now users can create longer audio packages that can be shared and enjoyed elsewhere.

How it works

Get started by creating a free account with your email address, Twitter or Facebook profile. Your account, which you'll use to collect your streams of audio, will now be known as your station.

On the homepage, you'll see a list of podcast suggestions that you may be interested to listen to, ranging from daily news round-ups to music shows. You can also search for popular stations in the app, which looks for content produced by others users who have made it publicly available.

Instead of liking podcast episodes, users applaud them using the 'hand-clapping' icon, or favourite them to save to their top stations.

To create your own podcast, tap the large red circle at the bottom of the screen.

Screenshots of Anchor. Image by Anchor app

Here, you'll get the opportunity to choose whether you'd like to record an interview with a friend over the phone (US numbers only), record your own audio directly into your phone's microphone, or even invite up to eight friends to record with you – great for doing group podcasts and interviews with people wherever they are in the world.

You’ll be able to invite anyone who has favorited your station, or any of your Facebook or Twitter friends. You can also send an invitation to anyone who’s not yet on Anchor to download the app. They will be able to join the recording instantly without having to set up an account.

To record directly into the app, press and hold the red record button, and slide it up to lock the device. It will then start recording your audio segment, counting up the time to a maximum of five minutes. Once you are done, tap the button to stop, and rename the segment to your liking.

Preview your track, add an optional background tune and a caption, and tap 'done'. This audio recording is called a segment, and will be added to your station. You can also add music from Spotify or Apple Music.

When listeners tune in to your station, they can either select clips to listen to, or play from the beginning and skip through as they wish. Individual clips will stay on your station for 24 hours. Your listeners can even record their own segments about your show, and send them to you to add to your station – great for doing vox pops or getting feedback.

Screenshots of Anchor. Image by Anchor app

You'll no doubt be creating multiple clips about a range of topics, so you might wish to make what's called an episode, which stays on your station permanently. Multiple segments can be joined together to make an episode, also published in you Anchor station – perfect if your listeners want to hear only your reporting about one specific story.

Note that only segments you own can be added to a longer podcast episode, so for example, you can't add the music from Spotify.

Once you've done this, the app will let you turn the episode into a podcast and add a cover photo, description and category. Every time you make an episode after that, it will be added to your own podcast playlist.

If you log into the app on your desktop, you can import pre-existing audio into your station by dragging and dropping it in.

Share your audio as a link, whether it's a segment or podcast episode, or directly to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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