Google today is making it easier for Android users to listen to podcasts, by introducing podcast support right into its Google app for Android. That means you’re able to search for podcasts using Google’s search engine, then click a button to begin listening without having to subscribe or switch over to another app.
The feature also includes standard audio controls at the bottom of the screen, including a Play/Pause button, Rewind and Fast Forward. But what’s even more handy is that you’re able to continue to browse the web or use your phone while you listen. You can even turn off the screen, says Google – the podcast will simply play in the background.
At launch, there are already thousands of podcasts indexed and supported for playing within the Google application, but Google notes that more will be added over time. You’ll definitely have no trouble finding top names, like Serial, Fresh Air, or RadioLab, however.
When you find a podcast you want to hear, the app will display the most recent three episodes in Google’s search results, so you don’t have to click but once to begin listening to the latest show.
Plus, you can use this feature to get caught up on older programs – the search results will display an option to view “More episodes.” This will take you to a longer list of the podcast’s archives. In most cases, this appeared to be the complete back catalog, in fact.
The launch follows Google’s long-awaited debut of podcast support in Google Play Music, which just rolled out yesterday. The inability to search for, discover, subscribe and play podcasts had been a surprising omission to the company’s iTunes competitor. Likely the support for playing podcasts in the Google app is tied to the fact that Google now – at last – maintains an updated catalog of these popular programs on its servers.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Google app’s support for podcasts doesn’t appear to be an effort to promote Google Play Music. The podcasts simply play in the app, and end users aren’t instructed to head over to Google Play to hear more, nor are they linked to the service.
This isn’t the first time Google has introduced support for streaming audio content right within search, of course. Years ago, it began connecting web users to music in the search results, and today it connects mobile users to streaming services and videos when they search for artists and songs. But those features have been more about providing one-off tidbits information, whereas this new podcast support actually works more like an audio streaming app you can use right from your search results page.
Google says the podcasts are available globally, but only in English.