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Google Podcasts app is proof of how simple design can enhance the functionality

Google has managed to boil the Podcasts app to such simplicity that it is really difficult to think that an app can get any more simple and easy to use.

Google Podcasts App 805px

Google has just announced the launch of its official app on Android for podcasts. There was no official app from Google or any built-in Android app that could handle podcasts before the launch of the app. Podcast lovers had to turn to third-party apps, every time that they had to listen to podcasts. The company did launch the “Listen” app through Google Labs back in 2009 but that app was shut down in 2012 and in the last six years, we’ve had to use a third-party app for something as basic as listening to podcasts.

However, this app does not come as a surprise as it was expected that Google would be working on the app after the company added podcast subscriptions and management inside the main Google app. So, now that the app is a reality, you must be wondering that how does one get started with it and what is different about this app to make it stand on its own in a sea of similar apps. And ultimately, why should you really care about this? The answer to the last two questions is extremely simple – “simplicity”. Google has managed to boil the Podcasts app to such simplicity that it is really difficult to think that an app can get any more simple and easy to use.

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To start with, you need to open the Google Play Store on your Android device and then search “Google Podcasts” in the search bar. On pressing enter, you should see the “Google Podcasts” app listing. The app was released on June 19 and it is about 68kB in size. The reason for such a small installation size is likely because the majority of the management and subscription features are already present in the Google app.

After installation, there is no setup required and you will be greeted with a number of curated podcast lists including “Top podcasts in Comedy”, “Top podcasts in Society & Culture”, “Top podcasts”, “Trending podcasts”, “Top podcasts in Technology”, “Top podcasts in News & Politics”, “Top podcasts in Sports & Recreation”, “Top podcasts in Religion & Spirituality”, and “Top podcasts in Arts”. The app can automatically suggest more curated lists on the basis of your subscriptions.

Subscribing to a new podcast is as easy as tapping on the name and then tapping on the “Subscribe” button to easily subscribe to that podcast. Tapping on any podcast will give you a list of all the episodes as part of that podcast channel along with the date when it was published and the length of that particular episode. The three-dot button on the top right of the channel screen will give you the option to add that particular podcasts channel to the home screen, visit the website of the publisher, change settings of the app or send feedback on the app to Google.

If you tap on any particular episode from the list, the app will navigate to a dedicated screen for that particular episode where you can check the size of the podcast, play that particular episode with the blue-colored playback button, download the episode on your device or even mark the episode as played. Tapping “Mark as played” will change the color of the playback button to gray as a visual cue that you have already checked and listened to that particular channel.

Once you tap the play button, the podcast will start playing and a bottom playback bar will appear which is similar to the playback bar on Google Play Music when you are navigating albums or any other lists. Once you tap on the playback bar, the bar will expand to show you your current progress with a progress bar, Pause button in the middle along with rewind to last 10 seconds and forward by 30 seconds. The bar also gives you the option to change the playback speed from 0.5x to 2x if you want to zoom through a three-hour long podcast with a speed button on the bottom left side of the screen. You can jump to the episode details page of any podcast that you are listening to revisit the description of the podcast.

Moving to the settings section of the app, one of the most interesting parts of this app is the download management where you can select the number of days till which you want to keep the episodes that you have completed and the number of days till when you want to keep the unfinished episodes. Both these options are important to automate download as well as to preserve storage space of your device.

There are some nifty shortcuts including tapping on the Google Podcasts icon on the top left side of the screen to jump to the home screen of the app. Here, the three-dot menu gives you the option to go to settings or “Edit your podcasts” where you can easily remove any subscriptions that you want. The app also comes with a search bar on the top of the home screen where you can search for any podcast if you know the name of the podcasts or the hosts.

The home screen also shows you a small summary of “New episodes” from your subscriptions, episodes that are “in progress”, and “Downloads”. The app also supports the rich media notifications along with the album art of the podcast ensuring that the app supports the latest APIs. There are no complicated menus or submenus in the app making it a simple, almost bare-bones affair.

  • Published Date: June 21, 2018 9:17 AM IST