How to play podcasts with Alexa on your Amazon Echo

Alexa isn't naturally good with podcasts – find out why and choose a better way

How to play podcasts with Alexa

If you’re a fan of the latest and greatest podcasts, Alexa can be a great way to keep up with your favourite series. Alexa has the capability to play podcasts natively via TuneIn, but there’s also a better way.

Read on for our guide to using Alexa to play podcasts on your Amazon Echo device – and a brilliant third-party Amazon Alexa skill you’ll definitely want to download and use.

And make sure you check out our ultimate guide to Amazon Alexa ecosystem to supercharge your smart speaker.

Play Alexa podcasts via TuneIn

Alexa defaults to the TuneIn skill for listening to podcasts, which has a decent selection of titles for you to subscribe and listen to.

Just head into the Amazon Alexa smartphone app and dive into the Music and Books section of the menu. TuneIn will be listed among the top music services so tap on this part of the screen.

TuneIn is primarily a radio app, so you’ll need to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the options for podcasting. Get the feeling that it’s a bit of a forgotten feature? You might be right.

Once in the podcast section, you can search for what you want to subscribe to. Some ideas are provided for you, although these are hardly a cutting edge curation of the latest and greatest podcasts. In fact, the list is full of generic genres that just screams low quality.

Essential guide: How to use Alexa announcements

But the selection is pretty good. Search for S-Town, Serial, The Butterfly Effect – all the zeitgeisty podcasts from the last year or so were present, so no complaints there. When you find one you want, tap it to play on one of your Alexa devices.

Normally, at this stage, we’d recommend some Alexa commands for you to try – but sadly we found the entire process brutally awful to use, so we're not going to recommend any. You can’t even subscribe to podcasts and Alexa is pretty rubbish at playing the correct episodes of serialised titles.

But there is a better way…

How to play podcasts with Alexa on your Amazon Echo

Use AnyPod to play Podcasts with Alexa

The AnyPod skill is a much beefier podcast choice for Alexa that offers more options than the standard. To enable it, just say “Alexa, enable AnyPod skill.”

The voice search works much better than via TuneIn, which really isn’t set up for podcasts, and the whole process is easier and neater.

What’s more, you can subscribe to a podcast, listen to your subscriptions, and AnyPod will work out the right episode for you to listen to. Listening to The Butterfly Effect took us to the first episode in the series, while a request for The Totally Football Show took us to the latest one. That’s the kind of experience you need when controlling a service with your voice.

We know you can't wait to get going, so here are the essential commands to get you started with AnyPod.

Play a podcast

“Alexa, ask AnyPod to play [name of podcast].”

Subscribe to a podcast

“Alexa, ask AnyPod to subscribe to [insert name of podcast].”

Play a specific episode:

“Alexa, ask AnyPod to play episode XX of [podcast name].”

Jump to the first or last episode

“Alexa, ask AnyPod for the [newest/oldest] episode.”

List your podcast subscriptions:

“Alexa, ask AnyPod, ‘What are my subscriptions?’”

Skip forward or back an episode

“Alexa, play the [next/previous] episode.”

How to play podcasts with Alexa on your Amazon Echo

Add podcasts to Routines

Thanks to a recent update, you can now add Podcasts to your Alexa Routines – this means that with one single command you can control pretty much every aspect of your smart home, and play a podcast automatically.

To add a podcast to a Routine you must use the TuneIn skill – for now at least. That's slightly annoying, but until Amazon opens Routines up further, that's the way it is. Go to the app and choose Routines. Start a new Routine and choose the command you'll give Alexa – then go to Music, and choose TuneIn as the source.

Now it gets weird – you have to type in the name of the podcast you want to play manually. Once that's done, save the Routine and, of course, add any other smart home settings you want to run simultaneously – maybe you like to listen to your podcast in the warmth of a low, blueish hue. If you do, set this here. When you say the command, your podcast will play.

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