Google details how it plans to improve the Android podcast listening experience

Icon of Google's web-based podcast app

In the coming months, Google plans to make it easier for Android users to consume and discover new podcasts.

In an interview with Pacific Content, Zack Reneau-Wedeen, a product manager at the search giant, said “Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple years.” Reneau-Wedeen went on to detail how Google plans to achieve that lofty goal.

To start, the company promises its search engine will treat podcasts as “first-class citizens” moving forward. In practice, this means Google will generate rich snippets for popular podcasts. These snippets will allow Search users to listen to podcasts directly inside of the company’s search engine. They’ll also be able to subscribe, as well as browse recent episodes and recommendations, all without leaving Google.

At the moment, this feature is hit-and-miss. For some even extremely popular podcasts like the New York Times‘ The Daily podcast, Google doesn’t generate a dashboard.

Additionally, the company plans to make it easier to continue playback between devices. At the end of April, Pacific Content published a report that said Google had updated Assistant to allow it to keep track of playback between devices. In the future, Pacific Content says the company plans to add this functionality across “every surface” users interact with Google    

Lastly, Google plans to launch new features that leverage the company’s speech and language expertise. Pacific Content says it will detail those enhancements in the coming days.

If there’s one takeaway from the interview, it’s that Android will likely include a first-party podcasts app at some point in the future.

Despite its larger userbase, the majority of frequent podcast listeners use an iPhone to listen to their favourite podcasts. Reneau-Wedeen attributes some of that imbalance to the fact that iOS ships with a first-party podcast app, which helps make it easier for new users to start enjoying the medium.

“The fact that when you open up an iPhone, it has a podcast app and your iPhone-having friends probably have been listening to podcasts plays a big role,” said Reneau-Wedeen. “So we want to create an environment on Android where it’s just as easy to get started, and it’s actually the best experience possible for discovering and listening to podcasts.”

The interesting thing here is that Google already has something of native podcast app. Using Search, Android users can create a shortcut to a web app that allows them to manage their podcast subscriptions, as well as a discover new podcasts. It’s likely we’ll see Google build out this web app into a fully featured Android app.

Source: Pacific Content