Is this the decade of the podcast invasion? I’m starting to think so, and I’ve begun to fall subject to its charms. As an Android user I recognize and admit that Apple has had the advantage in this category for a long time. Google tried and failed to offer a standalone podcasts app that could compete with iOS. It almost seemed they had given up. Now they have released Google Podcasts in hopes of contending once again.
In its early stages a lot is missing in this app, and it probably will not lure faithful users of third-party apps to the Google Side. But, if you are interested in trying it out for size, here are some hints for how to use it.
First, download the app from the Play Store. You also need to have the most current version of Google and Google Assistant for everything to work together.
When you open Google Podcast, you will notice it seems minimalist. There is nothing more on the screen than what is required for you to run the program.
After the first time you use it, you will see a section titled “For You.” There are three tabs in this section: a list of the new episodes of podcasts you already subscribe to, episodes that you are listening to but haven’t finished yet, and your downloads.
After the “For You” section, scroll down to see a list of recommendations based on the top podcasts overall and those that are trending.
Lastly, the app has podcasts from categories like comedy, news and politics, society and culture, religion and spirituality, arts, and sports.
Playing a podcast
When you click on a podcast, you can scroll through the episodes and see a recommendation for another similar podcast you may want to check out.
To play an episode, click on the arrow in a circle next to the episode’s title.
When you play a podcast, it shows at the bottom of the screen, and you can minimize it to take only a small amount of space. From that pane you can stop, pause, rewind, skip ahead, or change the playback speed. Google Podcasts offers sixteen different speeds from 0.5x to 2x to listen to your episodes.
You can control the playback with the voice commands “stop,” “pause,” and “resume.” When you are ready to resume, make sure to say, “Okay Google, continue listening to Stuff You Should Know.” This guarantees you get the proper result.
Search for a podcast, and the app will display two podcasts with a list of recent episodes to explore.
There’s also a swipeable list of other possible matches. If you searched for a specific person or group and didn’t see the results you want, you can click “Search on the Web” and locate the podcast there. You also have the option to add that podcast to the app.
Getting back to your show
If you have shows you access regularly, “Add to Home Screen” creates an icon on your home screen for that show. To go directly to the podcast, just tap the icon. Find this option in the menu choices in the top-right corner of the show’s page.
Google Podcasts integrates with Google assistant and any other Google-powered device. This connection allows you to stop listening to the podcast on one device and pick up where you left off on another of device.
The present vs. the future
This technology from Google seems to be in its infancy. We can safely guess that it won’t stay there long, though. Drawbacks of the current app include the inability to rate the episodes or series, and you cannot create playlists. For some reason Podcasts doesn’t support casting yet. Additionally, there are many other bells and whistles that other casting apps have that serious podcast fans would miss.
In the future Google will be integrating more of its AI capabilities into the Podcasts app. Artificial intelligence technology will enable the app to display closed captioning and transcribe in real-time into a language you choose. These features will open up podcasting to those who are hearing-impaired and allow us to listen to shows from all over the world.
When you first open the app, the suggestions are initially extremely generic, recommending podcasts that are already popular. As it is used, Google promises that the recommendations will become more and more specific to your needs and tastes. And as users from all over begin to use it and refine their choices, that data will help everyone. Apple’s podcasts app generally promotes the most popular podcasts. Google plans to use its app to get everyone, including the little guy, into successful podcasting.