First Thoughts: Google’s latest try at a podcast app is out, and so far it leaves a lot to be desired…

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Google Podcasts App within Google Play

Today Google released the much-rumoured official/Google branded podcast app. This is something that has been rumoured on and off for quite some time, and we’ve even talked about it regularly on Better Podcasting. While the idea of a dedicated podcast app by Google is new for them, this isn’t the first time that Google has worked to bring podcasting to Android. A couple years ago, Google integrated podcasts into Google Play Music, and last year, Google added podcast-support to their Google Search app, allowing podcasts to be played through Google Search App 6.5 or higher. You can get the app from Google Play by searching for Google Podcasts and download the app titled “Google Podcasts” by the publisher “Google LLC”.

Although I have only had a very brief time to play with the app, I wanted to post my first reaction – sadly, so far my experience as both a podcast consumer and a podcaster is underwhelming; I’ll start off with my critiques as a podcast consumer. Compared to other podcast apps available, the app feels very bare-bones and offers little reason for me to consider switching over. Many features that I’ve grown to love that are available on many other podcast apps, are unavailable in Google Podcasts. An example of this is that the settings only consists of only two options: How quickly to remove completed episodes, and how often to remove unfinished episodes.

The settings screen withing the Google Podcasts app.

There are no options such as refresh time, how many episodes I want to keep showing up, or even options on whether or not to auto-download episodes. As well, the user interface is fairly simplified, meaning those who are looking for third party features such as playlists, will likely be disappointed.

As a podcast creator, there are some additional concerns that I have. It appears that Google continues to make it’s own path when it comes to podcasting. Please excuse me while I get a little technical, but it’s necessary for my first example. Within podcast RSS feeds, there are usually two places that podcasters will place episode descriptions. The first is within the standard <description> tag, however, the other, more commonly placed, is the <itunes:summary> tag. For whatever reason, the latter has widely been accepted as being the main tag, with the <description> as a fallback. From my understanding, this is the logic that Apple follows for its Podcasts directory, and in turn, others have followed suit.  As an fyi, my existing podcast app (Pocket Casts) follows this logic. On the other hand, with Google, it appears they are prioritizing the description tag, meaning those Podcasters which have followed the aforementioned logic, may have issues with their episode information not displaying correctly. A great example of this is that some users use a condensed version in the <itunes:summary> with a full version in the <description>. Another concern that I have is the directory of podcasts, and how podcasts are listed, and the control I may or may not have if Google lists something that shouldn’t be listed. I’ll get more to that later.

 

 

The biggest question mark / concern I have, is the way that the app interacts with individual podcasts consumption. Those who have experimented with both the Google Play Music Podcast integration, and the Google Search Podcast integration, are probably very familiar with the difference in the way these operate from a backend perspective. While the Google Play Music app works more like a traditional app where the episodes are downloaded to your device, the Google Search app operates more like a streaming interface. When you press play on an episode, the episode starts buffering to your phone, on-demand. As the episode plays through, more of the episode is download. The Google Podcasts app operates as the latter – streaming.  I confirmed this operation by playing a few episodes and skipping through them – as the episodes played, I watched my data use increase throughout the episode playback. The trouble with this method is that the app will use data by default, and as it stands, it appears that there is no way to prevent data consumption (as mentioned, there are only two settings within the app). For those who are thinking that w work-around is to block it on an app level within Android, I have some bad news to report on that. The app seems to be an overlay for the Google services: as the app played episodes, the general “Google” App itself was the one that would increase in data consumption rather than the “Google Podcasts” app. This means to block data consumption, you likely will have to block the entire Google Service App, which I’m guessing (but have not confirmed) would affect your user experience. You can download episodes individually by clicking on an episode, and then clicking the download button. This will download the episode to your phone so that it can be listened to offline.

 

An example of the Google Podcasts App Notification Control Screen

With that said, it’s not all bad. The interface was extremely easy to use, and it was very fast to navigate. Searching for a podcast turned up results quickly, and after hitting subscribe, it was easy to navigate individual podcast episodes. When an episode is playing, the notification interface is clean offering a visually appealing play/pause button, as well as the option to skip ahead 30 seconds or back 10 seconds. There is also a very easy to use slider bar for playback offering the speed to be adjusted from 0.5x to 2x speed. The speed nature of the app, combined with the bare-bones nature, offered a really intuitive design. Subscribing was as simple as pressing subscribe and then the podcast showed on the main screen.

The Google Podcasts app displayed a result for our network-wide RSS feed not submitted to any directories.

From a search perspective, my initial search results seemed to find the podcasts I was searching for, and compared to the search results that were found within the Google Search app itself, they seemed slightly cleaner. With that said, it does appear that Google is using their web search integration, as it does seem to be displaying podcast results that are not found it the Google Play Music directory, but can be found within the Google Search app.

This operation has the potential to be really good, as this might mean one less step in a podcast creation process (bypassing manual submission). On the flip side, as a webmaster, I have questions on what I need to do to prevent / remove listings that may accidentally be discovered. In my previous experiments with the Google Search integration (as discussed on Better Podcast Episode 132), I found that a non-listed, non-advertised and non-linked section of GonnaGeek was discovered by Google. This was a “channel” that I had to setup within PowerPress when I converted data from the plugin that was previously used. I’d like to have an easier way to remove this listing, rather than having to modify details on the website-side of things.

With all of that said, for those of you who have been using the podcast function of the Google Search app, you’ll likely find there is little (if any) new here for you to discover. In fact, those of us who had added the “Podcasts” icon to our home screen through the Google Search app, will find that after installing the new Google Podcasts app from Google Play, the two of these (the Google Podcasts app, and the Google Search Podcast icon) will actually launch to the same location. Go ahead, give it a try (at least that’s how it operated for me).

Overall, even though I have significant concerns over the app based on my initial experience, I think that there is real potential benefit to Android having a packaged Podcast app. For potential consumers who have heard of podcasts, but weren’t sure how to get it, this might be the gateway that they need to discover it. Further, leveraging Google’s reach both from the perspective of content indexing, as well as its assistant, offers a massive of potential for discoverability and new use-cases. With that said, I just can’t help but shake my concern of the app centering more around a streaming model, with Download having to be manually done per episode – this is very different than traditional podcast consumption.


Pop Culture Cosmos Episode #94

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Our Incredibles 2 review and thoughts on the legacy of the Pixar library in the wake of John Lassiters scandal whats going on with Wonder Woman 84 a childhood TV character from the past that scares Josh even today and why are shareholders down on Nintendo All this and more as Rob McCallum and the guys from the Topicocalypse podcast join the show Presented by WheelyQ Barbecue Sauces amp Rubs listen for a 15 discount code Rob McCallum Films Retro City Games and FX Unit Yuki AKA Henshin Engine


Better Podcasting #135 – Podcast Innovations

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In this week’s episode we talk about a variety of ways that podcasting has evolved, and what these innovations mean for podcasters. We’ll talk about advancements in podcasting with hardware, software, services and a few that fall in between those categories.

In this week’s Better Podcasting Download, we’ll go over a recently announced changed in Audioboom’s strategy. As well, it is looking like Google may actually be building a podcast app.

Finally, we take listener feedback in the Better Podback, including from one listener who had a way to power a Zoom H5 at a convention.

Not familiar with Better Podcasting? We’re a podcast that provides podcasting advice focused toward hobby podcasters. We focus on the ways that you can help make your podcast better while also keeping you informed about the latest podcast news and updates.

If you want to follow us elsewhere, you can find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/betterpodcasting, you can follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/betterpod or email podcast@betterpodcasting.com. The full back catalog can be found at http://www.betterpodcasting.com. Happy Podcasting

This podcast was recorded on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – usually streamed Live to http://www.Geeks.Live

Audio/Video Production by Stephen Jondrew of GonnaGeek.com. Find full episode information including links referenced in this episode at http://www.betterpodcasting.com/135/

Main Topic: Podcast Innovations
Better Podcasting Download: Audioboom strategy change. Possible Google Podcast App.
Other Topics:

Links Discussed

SP’s Microphone: Electro-Voice RE320
Stephen’s Microphone
: Electro-Voice RE320

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PCC Multiverse #72

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On this weeks show we wrap up our thoughts on E3 2018 talk about the chaos at DC Films and what is Sony thinking when it comes to Fortnite


Pop Culture Cosmos Episode #93

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XBOX at E32018 Funko and the debate over the Girl in the Spider Web as Greg Hall from We Podcast amp We Know Things Douglas Haughaboo and Rob McCallum stop by on the latest Pop Culture Cosmos


PCC Multiverse #71

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We preview the weekend at the box office with Oceans 8 Hereditary and Hotel Artemis talk Nintendo and Playstation at E3 2018 and which conference is most important we revisit the Happy Time Murders and with all the bad press and toxicity is it still cool to be a Star Wars fan All this and more as Rob McCallum from Rob McCallum Films and Greg Hall from We Podcast amp We Know Things join us Sponsored by WheelyQ Barbecue Sauces amp Rubs Listen in for a 15 off discount to their Fathers Day special Retro City Games and FX Unit Yuki AKA Henshin Engine


Pop Culture Cosmos Episode #92

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Were back talking about what were looking forward to in pop culture in the second half of 2018 Nintendos latest score with Pokemon TV ratings news and a show to look forward to in the Fall Ubisofts Assassins CreedOverkill and whats the Worsest idea right now in pop culture as Rob McCallum from Rob McCallum Films and Jessica Boggs and Out of Curiosity from The TV Ratings Guide stop by the Pop Culture Cosmos Sponsored by WheelyQ Barbecue Sauces amp Rubs listen for a 15 discount on their awesome Fathers Day deal Rob McCallum Films Retro City Games and FX Unit Yuki AKA Henshin Engine


GonnaGeek.com Show #243 – Gonna See A Movie In SP’s Backyard

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In this week’s episode we discuss how there could have been life on Mars, how Yahoo! Messenger is finally going away, Google needs your help to control spam and Blackberry has a new phone availability. Plus, SP gives an in-depth review on his outdoor movie theater setup.

This Week’s Hosts: Stephen Jondrew, Chris Ferrell and Stargate Pioneer. This episode was recorded on Monday, June 4, 2018 streamed LIVE at www.Geeks.Live. Full show information (including links related to points discussed) can be found at http://www.geeks.link/243/.

The GonnaGeek.com Show is produced and edited by Stephen Jondrew (http://www.stephenjondrew.com) of GonnaGeek Productions, proudly Canadian.

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GonnaGeek  News Links:

Stephen’s Microphone: Electro-Voice RE320
Chris’s Microphone: Electro-Voice RE320
SP’s Microphone: Electro-Voice RE320


86 New Adult Gamers

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Kurt and James talk to Taylor and Kelsey about coming to tabletop RPGs as adults. What their expectations were, whether their background in literature helped and their plans for gaming in the future.   Twitter @justonemorefix Facebook Just One More Fix Podcast Support us on Patreon Gonna Geek Network


Better Podcasting #134 – Podcasting Without A Computer

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In this week’s episode we analyze several different ways to podcast without using a traditional computer (desktop / laptop). From Android to iOS, hardware recorders to wifi SD cards, we’ll brainstorm a variety of methods to achieve this.

In this week’s Better Podcasting Download, we talk about a change that Pinecast made this last week with their analytics and what Stephen’s experience was with it. We also had a slight update to last week’s Apple Podcasts news that was discussed.

Finally, we take listener feedback in the Better Podback, including from one listener who has a suggestion for a Zencastr alternative.

Not familiar with Better Podcasting? We’re a podcast that provides podcasting advice focused toward hobby podcasters. We focus on the ways that you can help make your podcast better while also keeping you informed about the latest podcast news and updates.

If you want to follow us elsewhere, you can find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/betterpodcasting, you can follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/betterpod or email podcast@betterpodcasting.com. The full back catalog can be found at http://www.betterpodcasting.com. Happy Podcasting

This podcast was recorded on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 – usually streamed Live to http://www.Geeks.Live

Audio/Video Production by Stephen Jondrew of GonnaGeek.com. Find full episode information including links referenced in this episode at http://www.betterpodcasting.com/134/

Main Topic: How to podcast without using a computer
Better Podcasting Download: Pinecast Analytics Change and Apple Podcasts 550,000 Active Podcasts.
Other Topics:

Links Discussed

SP’s Microphone: Electro-Voice RE320
Stephen’s Microphone
: Electro-Voice RE320

Video Version: