What Is Google Podcasts?

The standalone podcast app for Android

Screenshots of Google Podcasts app, showing a list of podcasts, and a list of episodes
Free podcasts; free recommendations.

Google Podcasts is Google's first take on a standalone app for podcasts, and it's integrated with both Google Assistant and Google Home. The free app is fairly minimalist, sporting an uncluttered interface and a handful of features, though the company already has more features the works.

Google Podcasts isn't ready to compete with the plethora of third-party podcast apps for Android, but it has great potential. One of Google's goals is to eventually use artificial intelligence to improve the listening experience.

How Google Podcasts Works

The Google Podcasts home screen displays available podcasts sorted into categories, such as trending, comedy, news & politics, and business. Once you start subscribing and listening to podcasts, your home page changes to show more targeted recommendations based on your listening activity. Currently, there's no rating system or any way to rate podcasts.

Android screenshot of Google Podcasts home screen
Lots of information in an uncluttered space.

From the home screen, tap any podcast to learn more and see recent episodes, then tap Subscribe if you like what you see. Some podcasts, such as those from NPR, also have a Donate button. Podcasts you're subscribed to are listed at the top of your home screen; below you can find podcasts with new episodes, podcasts you're currently listening to, and podcasts you're currently downloading. To unsubscribe from a podcast, go to the podcast's page, tap Subscribed, then tap Unsubscribe on the pop-up asking if you're sure.

From the episode description page, you can also download the episode or mark it as played.

Android screenshot of Google Podcasts app with playback controls
Google Podcast's playback controls.

When you hit play, you'll see a small module at the bottom of your screen with the podcast logo, episode name, and a pause or play button. Swipe up to see more controls for playback speed, rewinding 10 seconds, and forwarding 30 seconds; tap and move the playback slider left or right to fast-forward and rewind quickly.

Android screenshot of Google Podcasts with playback speed controls
Increase or decrease the playback speed of podcasts you're listening to.

There's also a button to change the playback speed from 0.5x to 2.0x, and 14 options in between and to trim silence from podcasts.

Google Podcasts Features

The Google Podcasts app has several useful features, including downloading an episode for offline listening and syncing podcasts across devices so you can quickly resume an episode. Unfortunately, there is no web or desktop version yet.

Due to its integration with Google Assistant, you can also use voice commands to control the app; say something like "Play This American Life" or "Listen to the latest episode of The Sporkful" to begin listening to those podcasts. Other commands include "next episode," "pause," and "what's playing?"

If you're listening to a podcast while commuting and you've still got an episode to finish when you get home, you can transfer the audio to your Google Home. Just say "Hey Google, play This American Life," and it will respond before resuming the episode from where you left off.

Google is also working on a speech-to-text transcription tool to add closed captioning for those with hearing loss and aims to translate that into multiple languages. Furthermore, since only about a quarter of podcasts at the top of the charts are hosted by women, and even fewer by people of color, Google is also working with the podcast industry to pave the way for underrepresented voices, via the Google Podcasts creator program.