Google is quite late to this party.
I am a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to many, and a podcast app is always one of the first apps which I install on a device. Podcasts are by no means a new format, which is why it seems so odd that Google was so late in introducing a player. Google did integrate podcasts into it’s Google Play Music app some time ago, however most options that are standard on most podcatcher apps were missing from Google Play Music. Now, Google has introduced Google Podcasts, a standalone podcatcher app.
Of course, upon hearing the news, I had to download the app myself. Would this be the latest and greatest or another disappointment like Google Play Music. Upon opening the app for the first time you are presented with a library of podcasts to browse. Click on a podcast, and you are given the ability to listen to episodes or subscribe. Besides the all white background of the app, which I believe is a very poor decision, it’s what you would expect.
The only settings you have from the main screen is the time frame with which to delete completed or unfinished episodes. While playing a podcast you can move forward by 30 seconds, or back by 10 seconds. I can’t seem to find a way to change these times, which is a standard for most podcast apps I’ve used. You also have the ability to change the playback speed, which I see as a necessity for podcast apps. That is essentially all the good that I can find in the app.
Now the bad, the design is really unattractive. The all white background as I said before is a poor choice, will be blinding if you’re like me and listen to podcasts while attempting to sleep. The settings are extremely limited. I can find no settings for if you wish to download via mobile data or WiFi, which should be another basic necessity for a podcast app. There is also no way to change where your podcasts are saved. The last thing I want to do is save hours and hours of podcasts within my phones internal memory. That is why I have a memory card, and the Google app doesn’t even give you the option.
So how about discovery? It may just be the worst iteration of discovery I’ve ever seen. Sure, the top podcasts are there, but if you’re like me, and listen to some smaller known podcasts, good luck with that. If you search and it doesn’t automatically find it, it will search the web, and it essentially opens a browser within the app. There is no way to add RSS feeds, which again, is a necessity for any podcast app. It strangely doesn’t seem to use the same library as Google Play Music either. For instance, our own UTB Blogcast can be found easily within Google Play Music, but it is nowhere to be found within the Google Podcast app.
This is obviously a first run at a podcast app, and it really feels like it. It is missing so much, it doesn’t even feel half baked, and I’m honestly surprised that Google would release it in such a format. I would hope that their standalone podcast app would at least be as capable as Google Play Music before they would release it to the public, but it does not.
If you’re looking for a recommendation for a podcast app, this would not be the app I would choose. Instead, I would suggest Pocket Casts. It is by far the most capable podcast app I’ve ran across, which has all of the options that are missing from Google Podcasts along with many more, an attractive design, as well as integration with Android Wear and ease in finding all your favorite podcasts.
If you’d like to try the Google Podcast App you can download it here.
Pocket Casts can be found here.