Google Podcasts is expanding its audience: the app is launching on iOS for the first time ever today, two years after its debut on Android operating systems. Google’s dedicated podcasting app is also receiving a major UI overhaul today on both iOS and Android.
The Google Podcasts app has been available for Android users since mid-2018, but anyone who doesn’t own an Android device has probably never heard of it. The app has received mostly mediocre reviews, centering on its lack of robust features and relative blandness compared to other podcast-listening apps.
But podcasts pull in huge revenue in 2020, and it seems Google has decided it’s time to capitalize on that. The app redesign and port to iOS are both good moves by the company, but it’s unlikely they’ll make a dent in the market at this point.
Features abound — Google heard users’ pleas about the app’s lack of features and took notes. The redesigned Google Podcast app is much less cluttered than the previous version, focusing on your subscriptions and listening activity rather than on discovering new podcasts. Users can now enable auto-download for new episodes of their favorite podcasts, as well as personalized notifications for each new episode.
Google Podcasts for Web is receiving updates as well, including the ability to subscribe via the web app and sync listening progress across devices.
Everyone’s cashing in on podcasts — Podcasts are no longer being cast aside as a side-project; they’re pretty much a main event, now.
Spotify has been the most public proponent of podcasts in the recent past. The company has included podcasts in its library since 2015, but it only really ramped up that part of its business last year. Between February 2019 and February 2020, Spotify acquired four major podcast producers: Gimlet Media, Anchor FM, Parcast, and The Ringer. Spotify is now a mega-player in the podcast world. The company has stated that it saw a 200 percent year-over-year increase in the number of its users listening to podcasts on the platform.
Too little too late — Google will undoubtedly find some iOS users who are exhausted of their current podcast-listening apps. For the most part, though, Google might be a little late on this. Most iOS users have by this point already found a home for their favorite podcasts, whether it be Spotify, Apple’s own Podcasts app (not that anyone has ever had much luck with that), or another third-party solution.
Google is right to expand its audience, and the redesign was much-needed. But it might have been more effective a few years sooner.