Google’s no frills Podcasts app is the start of something beautiful

Google today announced the return of its dedicated app for podcasts on Android. It’s called Podcasts, and its feature-base is about as basic as the name. But all the pieces are there and, thanks to the company’s AI, it may quickly become the best option available.

The app features Google’s AI-powered insights and, upon installation, it starts trying to figure out what kind of podcasts you’d enjoy. Every time you listen to a new podcast, it’ll get a bit smarter. It also enjoys complete integration with Google Assistant.

You can pause a podcast playing on your phone, for example, and then resume it on a Google Home speaker and it’ll pick up right where you left off. It works seamlessly and provides a bit more value for those who’ve bought into the Google hardware ecosystem.

The company hasn’t given a lot of love to podcast listeners lately, so Podcasts is a refreshing addition to the Play Store. After abandoning the last podcast app in 2011, the company has spent the time since giving a halfhearted nod in the direction of Google Play Music as a solution for listeners.

And, despite the fact that it’s an excellent platform for music, Play Music is terrible for podcasts – it has no dedicated features and the bulk of its development has nothing to with them.

But all that changes with the newly launched Podcasts app. It’s a smooth, albeit bare-bones, experience that captures the simplicity of most Google apps.

You won’t spend a lot of time figuring out how to use it because there are not a lot of ‘power user’ options baked in. Users can search for, play, and subscribe to podcasts but that’s about it. There isn’t even an option to create playlists or even rate podcasts – something we hope gets remedied soon.

Yet, even with better options available, the allure of a dedicated first-party solution from Google is too much to pass up for some of us. Casual users may prefer to stick with what they’re used to, and power users may want to wait until Google beefs this one up. But if you’re the type of person who’s always looking for the next podcast to fall in love with, Google’s AI-powered insights provide a feature exciting enough to warrant the download.

We’ll have to give it a deeper look to come up with a final verdict but, even when we take into consideration the lack of extra features, Podcasts is already one of the best options on Android. And, according to Google, it’ll only get better from here on out.

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