+ Saturday November 23rd, 2019

Be together not the same. Remember that Google? Because we sure do, in fact it was the embodiment of that sentiment that arguably made Android the dominant mobile operating system on planet Earth.

That philosophy of openness, inclusiveness and most of all user choice and customisation, that’s what made/ makes Google great.

What’s all this got to do with Podcasts on Google Assistant you ask? It seems Google has been pulling further and further away from that open inclusive philosophy with their products and services lately; in fact, they seem to be looking at where they can to perhaps restrict a little competition and build up their garden walls a little higher.

With Podcasts expected to be “a big thing” – i.e. very profitable – Google has at least started to take them seriously with its Google Podcasts app and service. Tangentially – with the rise of voice-enabled speakers – listening to podcasts via such devices is also on the rise.

Here’s the rub: Google’s smart speaker ecosystem doesn’t allow podcast players to stream audio, in fact only Google Podcasts can be used to play podcast audio on a Google Assistant Speaker via voice control.

3rd party music services, however, can stream to an Assistant speaker, as not supporting those would leave Google smart speakers DOA.

Jump on over to Alexa and you’ll find 3rd party support for podcasts players via a skill. While I’d prefer it to be native, just like music, where you choose your podcast provider app integration via the voice assistant, anything would be a good first step.

So why is Google not allowing 3rd party players onto Google smart speakers?

While we’re sure that some development would be required, it’s not like Google hasn’t developed a system to enable 3rd party audio playback and control. As already mentioned, Google already enables 3rd party music streaming platforms onto their speakers.

We’d also acknowledge the distributed nature of Podcast media storage. Thanks to the open RSS and CDN nature of podcast distribution industry, perhaps there are a few limitations there. Again, Google has clearly solved this for its own Podcast app. Unlike in the Google Play Music days, Google no longer runs a massive cache of the Podcasts it supports.

So, we’re left wondering, will Google support 3rd party podcast playback on Google Assistant?

Is there a technical limitation? Or, is this an attempt to muscle in on the Podcast space as Google sees future opportunities there and the company wansts to use its speaker ecosystem to try and grab more of the pie?

Duncan Jaffrey   Associate

Duncan Jaffrey

Duncan has been interested in technology since coding "Mary had a little Lamb" in Basic on his ZX Spectrum. A fan of all things Android, most days you'll find Duncan trawling the web for Android news or quietly editing away on Map Maker.

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