Google announced last October that Play Music would soon start supporting podcasts. We haven’t heard much of anything official since then, but today some users are starting to see that feature on their devices.
Some Android users are now seeing a “Podcasts” section in their Google Play Music app. You can select a Podcasts option in the slide-out navigation drawer, and from there you can browse podcasts, view their artwork, and play them back. The podcasts UI looks pretty similar to the rest of the Play Music app, meaning there’s a focus on large artwork, cards, and orange.
The Podcasts section is divided into Featured and Your Subscriptions sections, and you can also use the search bar, though it currently searches across all of Play Music rather than just the Podcasts section. That means that you may have to do some scrolling to find the results that you’re looking for.
When you find a podcast that you’re interested in, you can view its page, description, and its list of shows. When you subscribe to a show, you can have the app automatically download the five most recent episodes, and you can also tell it to notify you when new episodes are available. Finally, the playback screen includes large artwork and playback controls, including buttons for skipping forward and backward in 30-second intervals.
Right now, it looks like Google Play Music has all of the basic features that you’d expect from a podcast app. You’ve got new episode alerts, 30-second skip buttons, episode lists, and so on. This functionality should serve light podcast listeners well, letting them not worry about having to find a dedicated podcast app to listen to their stories. It’s sort of like Apple’s own Podcasts app on iOS. However, heavy podcast listeners will probably stick with the dedicated podcasts app that they’ve probably already got on their phone or tablet.
Podcast support in Google Play Music is currently only live for select users, and since Google hasn’t made any announcements, it’s probably only in testing for now. However, sportswriter Bill Simmons tweeted yesterday that his BS Podcast will be available in Google Play when its podcast support launches “later this month,” suggesting that podcasts in Play Music will go live later in February.