When Google announced it would be bringing podcasts to its Google Play Music app, many hailed this as the arrival of podcasting in the Googlesphere (including the Android and Google Home operating systems), likening it to the support Apple has provided for podcasting thru its desktop iTunes application and iOS Podcasts app. At the time, it felt like Google’s aversion to supporting podcasts had truly come to an end, and that having podcasts available thru the Google Play Music app would cause a massive stream of new listeners to come flooding into the podcasting space. But podcasting’s entry into Google Play Music came off with more of a whimper than a bang. Since then, very little has happened with podcasting and Google.
A recent teardown of the APK (Android application package) for the beta version of Google app 7.3 uncovered code within the app that appears to provide one-click style subscriptions to users of the app:
Last year, Google took a (half-hearted) stab at supporting podcasts with the Play Music app. The same day, in a much less expected move, it also became possible to listen to individual episodes right from a Google search. Fast forward several months and Google Assistant also gained the ability to play podcasts, which turned out to be a fairly natural feature for Google Home.
While Play Music allows users to subscribe to podcasts, listening to one through Google Search or Assistant meant asking for shows by name, and may also require a specific episode number if you want to hear anything but the most recent recording. Now it looks like Google is going to close that gap with built-in podcast subscriptions.
By all appearances, podcast subscriptions will be accessible in Google Assistant settings and will likely be treated much like subscriptions to news sources. The one obvious difference is that Google will track which episodes have been played so you won’t miss any or have to listen to repeats.
It’s unclear if this new functionality will automatically sync with users’ current Google Play Music libraries, or if it’ll be completely separate from that service. Regardless, it’s good to see some progress being made by Google in terms of podcast consumption.