Google Play Music adds podcasts

On Monday, Google officially opened up podcast support to its Google Play Music service. It’s not Google’s first time dealing with podcasts; Google used to offer the Google Listen podcast player years ago for Android, before shutting it down. However, podcasts have become a bigger deal in recent years, thanks to the success of podcasts like “Serial.” TechCrunch has more details about Google’s new feature.

I’ve briefly tried out Google Play Music’s podcast feature. I’ve listed my pros and cons of the service below.

Pros

  • The biggest podcast providers are already available on Google Play Music, including NPR and the various This Week in Technology (TWiT) podcasts.
  • No buffering, unlike my usual podcast app Stitcher.
  • Nice controls, including the ability to skip ahead 30 seconds or back 10 seconds.
  • Since it’s a feature to the existing Google Play Music app, it’s integrated alongside the usual music library, which might be convenient.

Cons

  • So far, the service is missing a lot of smaller podcasts I listen to (such as Black Girl Nerds’ podcast), or even some major ones. Among these include the BBC’s podcasts, which might be related to the service (as of this writing) currently only available in the US and Canada.
  • Its search functionality leaves much to be desired. As I discovered (and later confirmed by Engadget), some podcasts are only viewable/searchable in either the web-based Google Music player or in the Google Play Music app, but not both. I suppose this could be a bug that’ll get fixed.
  • Similar to Stitcher, there’s no way to manually add podcasts (via RSS) that the service doesn’t carry.
  • Some have cited the usual concerns about Google “spring cleaning” features. However, since podcast support is being added as a feature to a major Google service (its music player/store), I think it’s unlikely to meet Google Listen’s fate.

For now, I’ll stick with Stitcher, but I’ll check back on Google Play Music to see how its podcast support develops, or if they fix the odd search bug.

What do you think of Google’s podcast service? Will it replace your existing player? Let me know in the comments.

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