- Google launched a new podcast app named for Android. The Google Podcasts app uses the search giant's recommendation algorithms to suggest podcasts based on a user's listening history and preferences, according to a company blog post.
- After downloading the app, users can subscribe and listen to any podcast for free, and they can adjust playback speed or skip over prolonged silences. Google Podcasts syncs across multiple Google devices, meaning users can pick up where their podcast left off on another device.
- The company said Google Podcasts will be a launchpad for building an "even better podcast listening experience" using artificial intelligence. As speech-to-text technology continues to improve, it will be able to provide features like automatic subtitling, for example.
Google Podcasts promises to give users the chance to listen to spoken audio about almost every topic imaginable, but the company appears to recognize that the app is still a work in progress. Beside some tech-driven recommendations and a few charts, Google Podcasts doesn't allow for easy discovery of its catalog. The app relies on users to find the shows they want on their own, or to search the web for shows not yet indexed by Google and add them to the app. At the same time, there is not yet an integration with Chromecast, preventing listening on a Chromecast-equipped speaker or TV.
Google plans to add AI-powered features in the coming months, including the ability to read transcripts of podcasts in multiple languages, per Engadget. This feature will let listeners jump ahead to the topic of their choice. The app will also offer proactive suggestions for material related to a given episode to dive deeper into a subject, which could enhance engagement with listeners and compel them to return.
It appears that Google wants its podcast platform to resemble YouTube in offering a service for a wide variety of content creators and influencers. The company started a program to help grow "diversity and perspectives" in podcasts with an independent advisory board as its guide. That may mean there will be more shows from underrepresented groups and fresh ideas that bolster the podcasting business, according to Engadget.
This announcement comes as marketers are recognizing the power of podcasts in reaching a growing number of largely on-the-go consumers, with IAB research showing that podcast ad revenue grew 86% in 2017 to hit $314 million.