Google Play Music is now more than just music. Google has launched a podcast section that lets you stream episodes of your favorite shows… or find new shows you might like.
That last bit is an area where Google’s podcast offering might stand out from the competition. While there’s no shortage of podcast apps and services, most require you to search or browse for new shows you might want to hear.
Google Play Music will let you do those things. But you can also use contextual playlists like “learn something new,” or “laughing out loud” to start listening to episodes from podcasts you may or may not already be aware of.
The feature is a lot like the contextual music playlists that have been available in Play Music since Google started incorporating features from Songza (a music streaming service that the company acquired and then shut down).
You don’t have to use these playlists. You can just use Google Play like any other podcast app: find shows you like, hit the subscribe button, and listen on your mobile device or in a web browser.
But Google is a late-comer to the podcast party and there are a number of popular apps and services for Android and other platforms including Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, BeyondPod, and more. I’m not sure I’ll stop using BeyondPod anytime soon, but I’m curious to see if the LPX Podcast (now available via Google Play) ends up getting any new listeners thanks to Google’s new playlist recommendations.
I also wonder if Google will eventually change the name of Play Music now that it’s more than music.
The service is already kind of hard to describe in just a few words, since Play Music is really a whole bunch of different services bundled together. You can use it as a cloud locker for your own music (by uploading up to 50,000 songs for free). You can use it as a free, ad-supported internet radio service by streaming music from playlists. Or you can pay for ad-free streams and on-demand playback of millions of songs.
Note that while Podcasts are already live in the web version of Google Play Music, the feature is rolling out gradually to Android users. Google Play Podcasts are also available exclusively in the US and Canada for now.