Google won't index the content of all 2 million-plus podcasts right off the bat. The new podcast search and streaming features are available initially for English in the U.S., and will expand over time. Eventually, Google search queries won’t even need to include the term “podcast” to return a list of relevant episodes.
The internet giant is now surfacing podcast episodes in search results based on an analysis of the topics in a given show, and will let users play back the podcast right from the results page. Google says it's making it much easier to find — and listen to — podcasts.
Apple manually curates the list of podcasts available through its platform and requires publishers to go through a review process for Apple Podcasts. Apple currently has more than 750,000 podcast shows registered in iTunes, comprising more than 24 million episodes.
Apple is also enhancing its podcast-search features by transcribing the words and phrases used in episodes — although those will initially be available only to Mac users.
With podcasts today, "there’s a discovery problem," said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, founder and head of product, Google Podcasts. "There’s stuff people want but can’t find it — and that aligns perfectly with Google’s mission to organize the world’s information."
Google noted that a user's listening progress is synced across all of its podcast services, so you can start listening on the web then resume playback in the Google Podcasts app.
In Google Podcasts for web, you’ll be able to search for relevant shows and episodes and listen directly on your computer or phone. Meanwhile, Google also announced that later this year, users will be able to find and listen to episodes on the Google Assistant and the Google Podcasts for web service (via Google Play Music). That will let users issue a voice command to the Google Assistant for podcasts about a certain topic, and it will suggest episodes for you related to your search.
That will provide for discovery of podcasts that may be exclusively available via purchase or subscription on third-party podcast providers. Also, Google said it plans to add the ability for publishers to specify a preferred playback destination, such as a third-party website or app.
Apple also reportedly has been developing a way to listen to podcasts directly from a web browser.” />
"Our goal is to double worldwide podcast listening, to not just make it easy to listen to podcasts on Android but make podcasts a first-class citizen on Google," Reneau-Wedeen said.
The Apple Podcasts app accounted for about 63% of all podcast listening as of February 2019, according to App Annie data. The Google Podcasts app for Android, launched in June 2018, accounted for just 0.9%. Google has been slower to embrace podcasts than Apple, which introduced the Apple Podcasts as a default native app with the iOS 8 release in 2014 — a move credited with helping fuel the current boom in the podcast biz. To date, Google Podcasts for Android has over 5 million installs.
Instead, the new operating system will include three dedicated media apps — for music, TV and podcasts. This fall, Apple is doing away with the native iTunes app for the Mac with the release of macOS X 10.15 (code-named “Catalina”). The Apple Podcasts app for Catalina will provide enhanced search, starting with top shows in English. Apple's podcast search today relies on the metadata included with a podcast (i.e., show title, author, description).
All told, according to Google, its index now spans more than 2 million podcasts across the web. Now, when you search for a podcast about a topic on Google (such as “instant pot recipe podcasts”) show you playable episodes in search results alongside web pages, news, images and videos.

Sonos finally is bringing the Google Assistant to its smart speakers: The company announced as part of its earnings report Thursday that Assistant support will be rolling out next week.
Sonos sold a total of 785,291 products during the quarter, which was up just 1% year-over-year. Interestingly, the number of devices sold altogether was almost flat year-over-year.
A spokesperson declined to share additional details on the timing Assistant support for legacy Sonos speakers, saying that the company would share more next week, but CEO Patrick Spence suggested that this functionality was definitely coming as well: “If you have a Google Home device, you will be able to use that to control your Sonos,” Spence said.
This was largely driven by the Beam, a compact sound bar with integrated microphones, which led to a 57% increase in home theater speaker products sold. Sonos once again saw the biggest growth in its home theater segment, where it sold $89 million worth of devices in the quarter.
Developing.” />
Voice control via Google Assistant has been a long time coming for Sonos. Sonos first announced that it was working with Google when it introduced the Sonos One speaker in late 2017.
Analysts had expected losses of $0.43 per share on revenue of 206.3 million for the quarter. The company's share price was up around 1.4% in after-hours trading.
However, in a blog post published in November, Sonos admitted that it was going to miss that deadline. Sonos began beta-testing Google Assistant with a subset of its users earlier this year. At the time, the company said that it was aiming to roll out support for the Google Assistant in 2018.
Traditional speaker sales on the other hand declined, with Sonos selling 16% fewer of these devices than during the same quarter last year. The company attributed this to the discontinuation of the Play:3 speaker, as well as fewer sales of its entry-level Play:1 speaker.
"Through a software upgrade, Sonos One and Beam will support the Google Assistant in the U.S., with more markets to come over the next few months," the company said in its letter to investors.
Sonos generated some $210 million during its fiscal second quarter, which ended on March 31. That’s up 13% from the first 3 months of 2018, when the company had $186.7 million in revenue. Sonos announced the Google Assistant launch as part of its fiscal Q2 2019 earnings report, which surpassed analyst expectations.

"Bringing more content, value and open platform functionality to Samsung TV owners and Apple customers through iTunes and AirPlay is ideal for everyone," added Samsung TV services executive vice president Won-Jin Lee.
Apple on the other hand has struggled to compete in the smart TV space, with cheaper streaming devices like Roku and Fire TV regularly outselling the company's expensive Apple TV box.
For one thing, it brings two companies together that weren't able to compete in each other's field. The partnership is interesting for a number of reasons. Samsung has long struggled to create its own content services, and in recent years decided to instead rely on partnerships with companies like Spotify, Google and now Apple.
Talk about unlikely bedfellows: Samsung has struck a deal with Apple to include an iTunes Movies and TV Shows app on its 2018 and 2019 smart TVs. The TVs will also support Airplay, making it easier for iPhone owners to beam music and videos to their TV sets.
However, getting a foothold on third-party devices could also help Apple to further grow its services business. This may become especially important as Apple is looking to launch its own video service this year.
Samsung announced the partnership one day before it will unveil its 2019 TV line-up at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Monday. The company is also expected to announce bringing support for Google Assistant to 2019 Samsung TVs.” />
"We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home," said Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue in a statement.
The iTunes app and Airplay update will be deployed to 2018 Samsung TVs via a firmware update starting this spring, and presumably be included on 2019 TVs at launch. It will allow Samsung TV owners to browse their existing iTunes libraries, and also rent and purchase new movies and TV show episodes from the iTunes store.

Startups like Doppler Labs have been introducing hearing aid-like products in recent years that are designed for more attentive hearing, and aim to help with the dinner party effect where you overhear snippets from the next table, but not what someone across from you is saying. But truly smart sound, powered by machine learning, could in theory go even further.
It teamed up with consumer electronics companies like LG and Sony in 2015 to bring its Chromecast technology to a range of speakers. This year, it doubled down on those efforts by bringing the Google Assistant to third-party speakers, including pricier models that aim to appeal to the ears of audiophiles. Google has been dabbling in home audio for some time. So why did Google decide to also build its own high-end smart speaker?
He also told Variety that smart sound won’t just be coming to the Google Home Max. “We want to build a contextual sound engine for you,” Chandra said. Future Google Home iterations, and other devices made by Google, may benefit from this approach as well. This will also include raising the volume when there is a lot of ambient noise, and fine-tuning it based on the type of content the device is playing.
Chandra didn’t want to reveal too much about where Google is going with its own efforts to make sound smart, but he did say that the company is serious about the field: “Smart sound is going to be a long-term investment for us.”” />
The device is also a first step to use Google’s vast computing resources to make sound itself smart. When Google introduced its $399 Google Home Max speaker at its press event in San Francisco on Wednesday, the company didn’t just reveal a bigger, better-sounding speaker.
Thanks to a combination of speakers, microphones, and software, Meyer Sound’s systems can make a room sound like a church, a rock concert arena, or a small jazz club. And then there are commercial speaker manufacturers like Meyer Sound, which has developed technology to transform rooms into sound stages appropriate to the music that’s playing at any given time.
Google isn’t the only company looking to use technology to improve sound. Apple also announced that its upcoming HomePod speaker will include automatic tuning to optimize for each and every room. Sonos first introduced a sound optimization technology called Trueplay two years ago. However, Trueplay requires users to walk around their room waving their phones while their speaker plays strange control sounds — not exactly a user-friendly approach.
“Sound has to be contextual to your environment,” Chandra said. But blasting the morning news briefing at the same volume might lead to a lot of spilled coffee. Google Home Max owners might crank up their favorite tunes when they get together with friends at night. Google also wants to get smarter at adopting the sound to particular situations.
These six microphones monitor the music playing in a room for subtle acoustic changes. The speaker then senses the modalities of its environment — whether it is placed on a shelf that adds vibration sounds every time the bass line kicks in, or whether it is in a sparse room without much furniture to absorb any sound, leading to echoing of higher frequencies — and adjusts the sound output accordingly. That’s why Google Home Max packs six microphones, instead the two that are integrated into the original Google Home and the also-newly-announced Google Home Mini.
“We are only gonna do (a project like this) if we feel like we can really innovate,” said Google VP Rishi Chandra, who leads the company’s home hardware efforts, in an interview with Variety on Wednesday.
A member of the Home team suggested Wednesday that it needed just over a thousand rooms to gather meaningful data. And these adjustments aren’t just one-offs. Google has been training the Google Home Max in the wild on thousands of rooms to develop models of these environments and their acoustic qualities, and is using this training data to tweak the speaker’s output in real-time. But as soon as the speakers are getting to consumers in December, they’ll continue to gather this type of data, and improve over time.
This time around, it didn’t just want to add the Assistant to a bigger speaker, but actually use technology to improve sound beyond the specs of the device itself. Last year, Google introduced the original Google Home to do just that in the area of voice control and assistance without the presence of a display.