Google's experimental workshop, Area 120, appears to be working on its own audio playback software called Shortwave, which could be similar to Google Podcasts. That's partially based on a newly-discovered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) document reserving the word 'SHORTWAVE' for the search giant, first filed back in July. The government listing classifies the trademark as being applicable to software used on computers, tablets, and mobile phones, which allows users to search, access, and play audio files. Meanwhile, representatives from the company have also reportedly clarified matters further, indicating that the software itself is intended to give users "new ways" to consume, discover, and share "spoken-word" audio.
Bearing that in mind, Google also says that Shortwave is currently in very early development and still experimental. So there are several directions Google could be headed the software it has now officially trademarked. Some form of podcast application would make some sense. Historically, the search giant has not been at all shy about launching multiple products which ultimately accomplish the same task. One prominent example of that can be found with its Hangouts and Allo application, which effectively served the same purpose up until Google shifted the former in a more enterprise-specific direction. On the other hand, the company only recently launched its own dedicated Podcasts application, shortly after debuting similar features in its Google app on Android. That means it already effectively has two applications available for listening to podcasts, without taking into consideration those found on Google Play Music or YouTube.
Having said that, the company could be looking into ways to bring all of its podcast-based offerings under a single trademarked branding. While representatives of the company strongly suggest that Shortwave will be very different and is deliberately being engineered for that purpose, that doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility. Conversely, the software may have nothing to do with podcasts at all since it was actually filed after the release of the podcast features and Podcasts application. It could, in fact, be related to other types of content centered around the spoken word. For example, Shortwave could be closer in relation to something like Google's endeavors in the audiobook segment or any number of other services.