Google Search can now take the place of any podcast searching tool for both surfacing and playing back media based on contextual understanding of the content within the podcast itself, the search giant says. That's because the company will no longer just return links to podcast pages.
Instead, among other search results when either the title or specific terms are used, users will be able to play individual episodes directly from the results page.
Podcast results appear similarly to 'Shopping', 'Images', or other categorized results. They occupy a separated, scrollable row of cards under a new bold font "Podcasts" heading. They're also based on the topics or subject matter Google detects in the content rather than just on titles.
Each card features a podcast title and date next to a thumbnail for either the podcast series or episode. Underneath that, a blue-colored 'play' button will start the podcast playing directly in search results. Text next to that showcases the total playback time a user should expect from the given podcast episode.
What about the other "Google Podcasts?"
In its present form, a search for podcasts in web-based Google search still requires users to input the "podcasts" term. That's going to change "soon."
The search giant says that it will allow users to search for any term without the need to mention 'podcasts' just to get the desired results.
In effect, rather than searching for "Samsung Galaxy Podcast" a search for "Samsung Galaxy" should return podcast episodes too. That should make it easier for users to find podcasts and for content creators to surface their episodes but it leaves questions about Google's other podcast tools.
Introduced last year, the company already supports a full Google Podcasts application complete with Google Assistant integration. That does not have any connection at all to Google's more standardized web search. Google is intrinsically linking those tools with the new in-search features moving forward rather than ignoring the integration opportunity.
Listening progress and presumably, listening history will be saved from Google Search across those other services. So users can search for a podcast episode using the web-based search tool, and then start and continue listening in Podcasts.
There are plenty of other features presently missing that may or may not be added over time too. The ability to save a podcast or episode directly from web search to Google Podcasts doesn't seem to be present, for instance.
Google will allow third-party app developers to access the search feature but that and the other features aren't available yet. They'll open up "later this year" but won't be enough to push the new tool to widespread use just yet.
Google still has this severely limited
The new in-search feature undoubtedly makes finding podcasts easier even with its present restricted use cases. It is also still extremely limited in terms of availability. Only those users who in the US who are searching in English can access the feature, for the time being, and there's no estimate provided for other languages or regions.
Google's new Podcasts feature is available now for both mobile and desktop web, with all present features intact across both.