Google Podcasts for Android is a joke
Google revealed the initial release of Google Podcasts recently, a new attempt by the company to establish a podcasting application for Android.
Google Podcasts is available on Google Play; unlike other apps by the company, it is available for all users right away so that you can give it a try right now and don't have to wait weeks or months before it becomes available.
I made the decision to give it a try but had to delay the review until today as the application crashed on several devices that I tried to run it on.
Googled fixed the issue recently which gave me the opportunity to give it a try. Is Google Podcast the start of something beautiful as Tristan Greene over at TNW thinks? Let's find out.
Google Podcasts displays a list of top and trending podcasts on start, and top podcasts of categories such as comedy, news & politics, or religion & spirituality when you scroll down.
A tap on a podcast displays a short description and available episodes. You can play any right away with a tap on the play button.
The first issue that you may run into is that you cannot subscribe to any podcasts if you don't turn on the Web & app activity. Google Podcasts states that it is used to give "personalized recommendations based on your listening history". While Google Podcasts does display a "dismiss" option, doing so won't subscribe you to the podcasts and tapping on the subscribe button again displays the same permission notification.
So, if you don't give Google permission to save the activity on Google sites and apps, including searches, you cannot use one of the essential features of any podcasting application: subscribing to podcasts.
While you can still play podcasts directly, you'd have to check any podcast you are interested in regularly to find out if new episodes have been published.
You are in for another disappointment when you check the available options and settings. The settings page lists just two options right now: the two define when episodes get deleted.
That's it; no option to change the download location for podcasts, and no option to define auto-downloading behavior.
The rest of the application is as bare-bones as its settings. Google Podcasts does not support playlists or custom podcast URLs. If a podcast is not included in Google's directory, you cannot add it to the application.
Playback quality is good and Google did implement some useful features such as changing the playback speed or skipping forward or back.
Google Podcasts could get there eventually but Google would have to improve the app across the board. As it stands right now, there is no reason to use Google Podcast as you find plenty of better alternatives on Google Play.
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