Android fans listen up: Google Podcasts is finally here

Amelia Heathman
Google Podcasts uses AI to suggest new series to try out: Google

After years of waiting, Android smartphones now have their own dedicated podcast app: Google Podcasts.

Now when you’re searching podcast on Google Play, there is a dedicated app for all your Android podcasting needs.

Announcing the new app this week, Google said: “We couldn’t be more excited to help people around the world discover podcasts they’ll love, and this is just the beginning.”

That’s not to say Android users have been underserved when it comes to podcasts. There are apps such as Sticher and Acast that have been making up for the lack of a Google own app.

But, there are elements that Google can bring to its own podcast app that will make the listening experience better.

For instance, if you’re a podcast fan already, you’ll surely have lots of favourite shows you listen to. Beyond these shows, Google Podcasts will use artificial intelligence (AI) to offer recommendations, so if you really like true crime shows like Serial, it will serve up more series like this.

As well, the app will seamlessly sync with the Google Assistant. Google says that if you’re listening to a podcast on your phone on the way home from work, then you pick up when you arrive on your Google Home.

You can now listen to podcasts on the Google Home (Google)

As part of the launch, Google is launching a new initiative to promote inclusive storytelling in podcasting. In the past, podcasting has been criticised for promoting only white, male voices in the top charts whereas only a quarter of the most popular podcasts tend to be hosted by women, and even fewer by people of colour.

The podcasting company Gimlet dedicated an episode of the StartUp series to addressing its own diversity issues.

As a result, Google is developing a program with the podcast industry to increase the diversity of voices and remove barriers to the medium. Currently a work in progress, with more details to come this summer, Google says the program will be guided by a global advisory board, with the primary goal of enabling skills development and experimentation from underrepresented voices.

It’s not just about giving those voices a platform, but also supporting them as they grow. Emma Gannon, host of the popular Ctrl Alt Delete podcast, regularly speaks out on the abuse she receives as a female podcast host, particularly with men writing negative reviews online.

“All of the negative comments are from old men who think what you’re saying is total drivel because it’s almost like you have the audacity to post a 40-minute conversation about women’s stuff,” Gannon told the Standard.

If Google is serious about promoting underrepresented voices, it needs to ensure it can offer ways to help people deal with this kind of abuse, too.

You can download Google Podcasts now on the Google Play Store