Google Podcast app rumored to be in the works

Google appears to be preparing for a launch of its own internal podcast app. 9to5Google found a hint of what’s in store in the code for version 8.7 of the Google app, which includes a prompt asking users to “Get the Google Podcasts app.” The website anticipates that the in-development Podcasts app will serve as a gateway to access the podcast functionality that has been in development at Google, and which already exists as an unpackaged product.

Confusing? Let’s unpack it:

  • Google phones lag way behind Apple phones in collecting and distributing podcasts.
  • However, Google does have podcasting functionality that allows searching, finding, and playing podcast shows within the “Google app.”
  • The Google app is basically Android. Chrome does not exist by name in Android — the phone’s ability to search is powered by Chrome. Within that encompassing “Google app,” you can play podcasts and enjoy automatic bookmarking across devices.
  • There is some need for a formal, distinct podcast app which complements existing podcast discovery/play functions. For example, you cannot download podcasts with the play function in the big Google app. Streaming is great, but downloading is good for offline listening. (Think plane trips.)
  • To be fair, many indie podcast apps exist for Android. But Android itself does not have a branded podcast collection and management app that it bolted into the home screen, comparable to Apple’s Podcasts app.

The past few months have seen several indicators that Google is looking to put more of a focus on podcasts in its digital space. The tech company laid out its vision in the spring, setting the goal of doubling its podcast audience in a couple of years. Google isn’t really close to touching the dominance Apple has had in this space, so while the move to improve its podcast capabilities is a good one, there’s still a long road ahead.

Anna Washenko