Google Podcasts might not be everyone's first choice in podcast apps, but it's become a pretty popular service with Android users nevertheless. Throughout the last couple of years, it's gained a proper playback panel and support for custom RSS feeds, making it feel a lot more complete than its initial barebones launch. A new design is now arriving on Android devices, providing some minor but notable tweaks to Google's podcast player.
Google's Podcasts client is surprisingly good. It's a nice alternative to the more established options, especially if you're looking for something simple and straightforward. Podcasts is available either on the web via desktop browsers, or as a dedicated mobile app on Android and iOS, with your audio subscriptions and progress saved in both. But before now, the saved playlist of episodes available on the app wasn't visible on the web. Now it is. Neat.
We've heard it all along, Android Auto is designed around keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. While that doesn't always work out in practice, many of the changes to the Auto interface are at least intended to streamline your interactions with the screen. It looks like Google may have identified people were spending too much time browsing for music and podcasts, because a new shortcut now provides automatic suggestions that can get you listening without a lot of tapping.
The audio-only discussion/public forum platform Clubhouse is the hottest social media trend of the year, and Facebook doesn't want to be left out. In April, the social network announced a slew of new audio formats for its platform like podcasts, a "Soundbites" audio creation tool for short audio content, and "Live Audio Rooms" for joining Clubhouse-like talks. And starting today, these features are rolling out in the US.
Over the last few months, Spotify has been redesigning and improving its app to make it easier to find the music you're looking for. These improvements are continuing as the company announces changes to the way music and podcasts are shared.
During its first 2021 event yesterday, Apple announced "the next chapter of podcasting" with its Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. It's a new platform for podcasters that allows them to monetize their shows using subscription fees — conveniently only available to consumers through the Apple Podcasts app. Apple positions the new monetization method as separate premium products in addition to existing free or ad-supported podcasts, and there are already tons of studios and independent podcasters lining up to become part of the service.
The move is just part of a larger trend in the podcasting world, mostly kicked off by Spotify. The music streaming service is picking up more and more exclusives, holding some of our favorite content hostage with its terrible app in the process.
When it comes to listening to podcasts in 2021, the options are limitless. From dedicated software like Pocket Casts or Podcast Addict to Spotify's endless pursuit to make you listen to its exclusives (whether by accident or by force), you probably have three different methods for listening to podcasts on your phone right now. Placed alongside every other app fighting for your attention is Google Podcasts, the free and feature-limited experience built to sync your library between Android, smart speakers, and any web-connected device. Less than five months after hitting 50 million installs, the app has hit a new milestone: 100 million installs since its launch in 2018.
Podcasts have been the "next big thing" in content for a while now, with every tech, media, and venture capital firm looking to get involved. Given how many apps Samsung includes pre-installed on its phones, it's always been surprising that a podcast app wasn't among them. With a new update to its entertainment-focused Free app (previously Samsung Daily), the company's flagship devices will now natively support podcasts out of the box.