Google has long lagged behind Apple when it comes to podcasts. The tech giant was critical in creating podcasts, as they were essentially named after iPods. However, in the years to follow, Google has made up little to no ground when it comes to platform building. Google Listen was pitiful, and when Google Play Music added them a couple of years ago, I got excited. That excitement quickly faded when I realized that it was a half-hearted attempt.
With podcasts becoming more popular than ever, Google had to put some serious skin in the game. This week they did just that and launched Google Podcasts.
I’m not sure, however, that the third time is the charm.
Skin In The Game
The first thing you notice about Google Podcasts is that it’s pretty. The app is very nicely designed and feels good to use. That may be all the juice it’s got though.
The main screen is a white grid of cover art for your subscriptions. Below that is a “for you” tab that lets you know about new shows and the progress you made in them. It also shows you what you’ve downloaded to your device.
Below that is a list of top podcasts based on your listening habits and other shows that might be similar to the ones you listen to.
The functionality is simple. If you tap on the bar at the bottom of the screen, you can see what you’re listening to. There are also controls to speed up or slow down the speed and skip ahead or back at your leisure. These controls aren’t customizable though, so you’re stuck with ten seconds back and thirty seconds forward.
Pretty Isn’t Enough
If you subscribe to multiple shows or are way behind on the shows, you listen to currently, Google Podcasts may not be for you. There’s currently no way to download episodes automatically. When one episode ends, it automatically goes to the next. This might work for folks just dipping a toe into podcasts, but for those that subscribe to multiple shows, it just doesn’t work.
I hope that Google has just released the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) for this app and has plans for significant updates. You can check it out now.
As it stands, I’d recommend PocketCasts over Google Podcasts any day of the week. The interface is beautiful, and the functionality is what Google should aspire to. It’s a paid app but well worth it if you’re into podcasts. I use it daily. Get it here for iPhone and Android.