Android Makes Podcast Search Available Through Google Play Music

Android mobile operating system users who also happen to be fans of podcasts have probably quickly encountered the issue of running out of available memory to download all of the shows they listen to.  Well, Google appears to have a novel solution to this problem: you can now find and listen to podcast episodes directly from within the search of a new Google app.

Whether you like nationally syndicated shows like “This American Life” or “Fresh Air” or comedy shows from nationally-touring comedians or local shows from your home town, this app could be just the thing you need to stay up to date on all your favorites.  And you can search based on podcast title or according to various themes—like “Learning Something new” or “Laughing Out Loud”—much like trying to find music or stations on Pandora or Spotify.

Google Play Music PodcastGoogle says that searchable podcasts are currently in the thousands—and growing—and will now show up in a “recent episodes” tab at the top of your search results.  By default the feature will display the most recent three episodes at the time you search for the podcast.  You can click on “more episodes,” of course, to bring up a more extensive catalog and backlog. In fact, Google has been so proficient at indexing that they have collected nearly the entirely catalog of some shows, including almost every one of the 100 NPR Radiolab episodes.

Of course, a powerful feature like this only really matters if it is also easy to use and fortunately, it seems, Google is on top of it.  Just click on the “play” button and you will call up a standard list of playback controls—including pause, rewind, and scan—for the current podcast.  Background playback is also available, allowing you to play the podcast even if you switch away from the Google app,  or even if you let the display power down (in battery saving mode, for example).

The feature is currently available in Google Play Music on Android devices in the United States and Canada as well as through Google Play Music on the web.