On the web, people just love those audio and video netcasts.
Also called podcasts, Google as the giant of the web, is trying to make things even easier for them. First announced on its 2019 I/O Developer Conference, Google said that it would start including podcasts in search results so that users can listen to them right away, without the need for a standalone podcast app.
At the time. CEO Sundar Pichai said about a “Podcasts about this story” feature for Google Search that indexes podcasts to surface relevant episodes by content instead of just title.
On the weekend, this feature has gone live across both desktop and mobile web.
Here, when searching for a relevant podcast on Google, the search giant can surface a card that shows the most recent three episodes.
Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Google Podcasts' head of product, tweeted a demonstration of this Google Search functionality:
Rolling out this week you'll be able to search for and play podcasts directly in Google Search across Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, a step toward making audio a first-class citizen across Google. pic.twitter.com/29ohC7W9z8
— Zack Reneau-Wedeen (@ZackRW) May 9, 2019
Google originally incorporated podcasts into its music streaming service Google Play Music back in 2016. It also had a podcast player for Android as early as 2009 in the form of Google Listen, an experimental app which failed to get traction.
In 2018, Google first introduced Podcasts, but was only specifically for Android and Google Assistant devices, like Home speakers.
And this time in 2019, Google Podcasts becomes the company's third attempt in creating a podcast service, by bringing the service to Search for the desktop and mobile web.
The podcasts can be played right there by clicking on the ‘play’ button.
This would bring up a basic audio player, with rewind/forward controls, as well the ability to adjust playback speed. Tapping on the links on the other hand, will take users to podcasts.google.com, there they can see a feed of all available episodes.
The Podcasts feature can be experienced even without signing in to Google. But by signing in, users can sync their playback status across all of their devices.
The feature should also benefit users of Apple devices, and those who use Google Assistant from the platform, as Google is yet to launch a dedicated Podcasts app for iOS.
While this is indeed convenient, however, there is no dedicated page to view all subscriptions. The only way to access subscribed podcasts, at least initially, is through the Google Search search bar.
Another limitation is that, users can only browse episodes from a single podcast, meaning that they can’t browse different podcasts from the site.
In short, Google Podcasts does give users another option for listening to their favorite shows, but it's initially nowhere near as feature-rich as a lot of other competing services.
Like a lot of early-stage Google products, Podcasts has a lot to go before it catches up. But nevertheless, it's at least clean, streamlined, and actually stripped some complicated features of the usual podcast apps by making it more focused and less cluttered.
Previously, Apple too has updated its web interface for Podcasts to enable it to play episodes directly.