Want a simple way to keep up on the latest This American Life, Hardcore History, or Fresh Air, but can’t be bothered to download a podcast app? Not to worry — starting today, Google’s got you covered. The search company’s introducing a new feature for the Google app on Android that lets you find and listen to podcast episodes from directly within search results.
Podcast playback doesn’t appear to be an afterthought. Searchable podcasts, which Google says number in the the “thousands” and growing, show up in a new, designated “Recent episodes” tab at the top of search results. By default, it displays the latest three episodes at the time of search, but clicking on the “More episodes” button brings up a more extensive catalog. The depth of Google’s indexing is quite impressive — NPR’s Radiolab, for instance, appears to have nearly all of its 100-episode archive available.
Listening to a podcast’s a simple affair. Clicking on the “play” button summons a standard array of playback controls that let you pause, rewind, and scrobble the in-progress podcast. Background playback support’s present too — the current episode will continue to play if you switch to away from the Google app, for instance, or turn off your phone’s display.
Search’s newfound podcast prowess is no coincidence. Today’s announcement dovetails with the release of a major podcast-focused upgrade for Google’s Play Music app — on Monday, it gained a dedicated interface for finding, subscribing to, and downloading shows, plus individualized and contextual podcast recommendations. The search app’s rather bare bones by comparison, but that’s likely intentional — it seems intended to provide a quick, no frills way to play individual podcast episodes rather than manage entire seasons. Somewhat tellingly, there doesn’t appear to be a way to add podcasts in Google search results to Play Music.
The update’s going live “today” for most users as part of a server-side switch, Google said in a release.