Google decided to drop a surprise by announcing a new podcast app that is aptly named Google Podcasts. It’s only available on Android (sorry iOS fans) and I’ve been wondering why the company took this long to launch this app.
I’m saying this because podcasts are not new really. Podcasts are amazing since they can be made by people in an industry or individuals who are focused on broadcasting content of a specific genre. We’ve been listening to podcasts on iTunes for years, heck even the Sony phones have a podcast option in their music apps.
However, podcast apps are usually not that user friendly, like the Sony one and the void was felt. Enter Pocket Casts, who supplied a paid app that is loved worldwide and I decided to purchase it in 2016. I’ve never regretted that mere $3 purchase since it works well and looks great.
Enter Google where we have seen them taking podcasts seriously. They started with showing podcasts on Search and now we have a whole new app for Android.
The app has a distinctive white background and you might think you’re in Google Now or something. You are shown various categories of podcasts like the top ones, trending and the various genres like comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports and more.
Sadly, the playback screen does not go full screen, which is disappointing, but it has the classic options like the 10 second reverse and forward buttons, speeding up tool, progress bar and play button.
When you tap the ‘i’ button, it shows you more information about the podcast you are listening to and gives you an option to download it later for offline use. By default, episodes that you’ve downloaded and listened to will be removed after 24 hours and unfinished episodes after 30 days.. However under settings, you can change that where you can instruct the app to remove complete episodes after 7 days or not at all and unfinished episodes can be removed also after 90 days or even not at all.
Unlike Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts has a neat trick: Smart recommendations. Google uses AI to offer recommendations based on your habits, which is pretty cool. They’ve also said that this app will be a ‘launchpad’ for building a better podcast listening experience using AI. They would offer features like automatic subtitling for people who are hearing impaired and also thanks to Google Translate, those subtitles could be made available in a wide variety of languages.
Pocket Cast has some neat extra features:
- Pocket Casts has a material design influenced interface which is conspicuously missing from Google Podcasts
- Pocket Casts features sync which is brilliant if you have multiple devices and you will not want a scenario where you have to look for your favourite podcasts again on a new device.
- You can import or export podcasts in P.C.
- PC’s auto download feature is helpful if you forget to download your favourite podcast in time.
- You can change its appearance (light/dark theme, using episode artworks etc)
- You can set where your podcasts should be stored (phone or microSD card)
- Google Play Music can see your downloaded podcasts if you enable a toggle under settings.
- There is a silence feature among the play options that trims silence from podcasts, which is great!
- Also Pocket Casts is available on the Play Store , App Store and even for Windows Phone. Points for the app for multi-platform syncing.
I still believe that Google’s first attempt on a proper podcast app is damn good for a free version and it would be a great alternative to Pocket Casts.