Seemingly under the cover of darkness, Google has released (FINALLY) a podcast app. So your friendly neighborhood tech guy has downloaded it to see what all the fuss is (or could be) about!
Firstly, the design is in line with their Google App for search and what is directly integrated into most Android Phones, or if you use the Google Now Launcher instead of the default launchers provided by other OEMs like Samsung or LG.
Its clean, minimalist, and very reminiscent of an iTunes Store layout combined with Material Design elements.
Once you subscribe to your shows, the app has 2 lines of 5, with the standard Google dots at the bottom of the app to flick through the next slide of shows if you subscribe to any more than 10 (like most podcast Junkies like me).
Inside the show menu, the shows can be downloaded directly, or you can stream them by pressing the play button. This seems like a default option as there isnt any other option I can see to opt for a warning when streaming over 4G Celluar, like PocketCasts does.
The app also does have an smart search option, and being tied into Google, it also allows you to Google Search the podcast if it can’t find the podcast in the app. This is especially handy now for people Googling podcast names as you hear them on other podcasts or on TV/Radio, as I imagine Google will have their smart search show your Podcast, but through their apps.
Speaking of PocketCasts, the app’s simplicity is one of it’s main drawbacks. Being in the early stages, one is to expect not a huge selection of features, but in the side by side comparison video below, you can see there isn’t really much at all against other competitors. I am a PocketCasts user, and I primarily download then playback my podcasts from local storage rather than stream. This option is available to you in Google Podcasts but you have to go through a few extra selection options when tapping on the episode.
Google’s app is overall smooth in use, and has only crashed once on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and nothing (yet…) on my Galaxy Tab S3. Currently it is Android only, with no future plans for an iOS version (which is pretty good, considering the huge lead PocketCasts, Apple Podcasts and Overcast have on the user base already).
PocketCasts (and other apps like Overcast or the Apple Podcast App on iOS) have been around for years and as such have refined their audiences and all have their pros and cons. PocketCasts does have a whole suite of options for those who want to use them, however Google Podcasts does have an excellent syncing engine and a predictive algorithm that does change and alter the “For You” Tab as you listen to podcasts overtime. This is a pretty cool feature, with Google commenting they will add more features soon based around artificial intelligence, as well as plans for closed captions – this would be interesting to see how it is integrated into the app also.
Google overall has creates an interesting competitor in the space, with plenty of room for growth and improvement, but a compelling option for someone wanting a toned down podcast player.