How to play podcasts on Alexa with your Amazon Echo

Spotify, Apple, TuneIn, Amazon Music and more: Your guide to podcasting with Alexa

How to listen to podcasts on Alexa
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If you’re a fan of the latest and greatest podcasts, Alexa can be a great way to keep up with your favorites - especially as Amazon has just made them available through Amazon Music.

It isn't just Amazon's music streaming service where you can grab your podcasts though - Alexa speakers like the Amazon Echo and Echo Show can play podcasts natively via TuneIn, Apple Music and Spotify.

And there’s also a couple of alternatives to explore, if you want to play podcasts on your Echo smart speaker.

Read on for our guide to using Alexa to play podcasts on your Amazon Echo smart speaker – and also check out our handy list of Amazon Alexa skills you’ll definitely want to download and use.

Play Alexa podcasts with Amazon Music

In September 2020 Amazon Music added podcasts to its repertoire. If you're an Amazon Music customer, on any subscription tier, you'll now have access to Podcasts at no additional cost.

Amazon states that it has both current podcast top picks and will also offer new, original shows produced exclusively for Amazon Music and hosted by creators including DJ Khaled, Will Smith, Dan Patrick, Becky G, and more.

The number one music podcast, Disgraceland, is also set to arrive exclusively on Amazon Music in 2021.

By default on Echo smart speakers podcasts will play through Amazon Music. To set it up for your linked devices such as Sonos speakers, you'll have to change to default podcast provider within the Alexa app; as per the steps as described below for Apple Music.

Play Alexa podcasts with Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Both Apple Music and Spotify have now arrived on the scene for playing podcasts with Alexa.

Here's how to play podcasts using the Apple Podcasts skill:

1. Open the Set up Amazon Alexa app and chooseSkills & Games from the More menu.
2. Search for the Apple Podcasts skills and tap Enable to Use.
3. Link your Apple ID.

You're now all set. However, by default, TuneIn or Amazon Music are the main men when it comes to playing podcasts on Alexa. So, in order to stop adding each podcast request with "on Apple Podcasts" to the end, simply change the default podcast player to be Apple's.

1. Tap Settings and scroll to find Music & Podcasts.
2. At the bottom, under Account Settings, tap the Default Services section.
3. You'll now find you're able to choose a default podcast player from whatever streaming services you have linked. Choose Apple Podcasts.

You can also choose to set Apple Podcasts as the default player when you first link your account.

Alexa podcasts via spotify

Here's how to play podcasts using Spotify:

It's even easier with Spotify, because there's no separate skill; you just use your regular Spotify account. If you've already got your Spotify profile linked, then simply request podcasts as you would a song, playlist or album.

However, minor caveat: just because you have Spotify selected as your default music streaming platform, that does not mean you'll automatically have it set as the default podcast app. So you'll have to add "on Spofity" to the end of your podcast requests.

Unless, of course, you follow those same steps we listed above for Apple Music to make Spotify the default player.

Play Alexa podcasts via TuneIn

Alexa defaults to Amazon Music or the TuneIn skill for listening to podcasts, depending on what type of device you're using. TuneIn 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 Entertainment section (use the Play icon in the bar at the bottom). TuneIn will be listed among the top music services so tap on this part of the screen.

Essential guide: How to use Alexa announcements

Once in the podcast section, you can search for what you want to subscribe to. TuneIn used to treat podcasts as a bit of an afterthought, but the good news is the interface has all been revamped. You'll now see This Week's Top 25 Podcasts listed right below the Local Radio section. You can either scroll through the big hitters, or click See All for a list view.

How to play podcasts on Alexa using the Alexa app

The selection is pretty good... S-Town, Joe Rogan, The Butterfly Effect – all the zeitgeisty podcasts from the last couple of years or so were present, so no complaints there. When you find one you want, tap it to play on one of your Alexa devices. You can, of course, also use TuneIn's search functionality to find anything not listed in those top picks.

Once you've chosen the podcast you want to listen to simply tap it and it will play through whatever Alexa-enabled speaker you choose.

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 are a couple of workarounds.

Alexa podcasts with AnyPod

Use AnyPod to play Podcasts with Alexa

The AnyPod skill is a much beefier podcast choice for Alexa, offering more options than the standard. To enable it, just say “Alexa, enable AnyPod skill” or download it from the Alexa Skills Store.

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.”

Pocket Casts to play podcasts on Alexa

Use Pocket Casts to play podcasts on Alexa

Thankfully, AnyPod isn't the only third-party skill you can enlist to help get to podcasts on Alexa, with Pocket Casts launching its skill in early 2019. To get it, you'll have to download it from the Alexa Skills Store and then link up your account.

Once you're all synced, you can access your podcasts by simply talking to any enabled speaker. And, considering this is the first iteration of the skill, it's not actually too clunky. There's still a bit too much back-and-forth, with the skill wanting confirmation on pretty much everything you ask for, but, as with AnyPod, the fact it's able to keep up with progress is exactly what the podcast experience on Alexa should be about.

There are a couple of downsides to be aware of, too. In our experience, the skill will always play the most recent episode - and sometimes, obviously, you want the oldest episode you haven't yet played. There's also no way to skip ahead during an episode if, say, the sync hasn't quite got things matched up with where you last left it. These are the kinds of things that can easily be patched up with new voice commands, and we expect it to keep getting better over time.

You can decide for yourself if Pocket Casts deserves your time, but here are some commands to get started with:

Play a podcast:

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

Subscribe to a podcast:

“Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to subscribe to [name of podcast].”

Get a recommendation:

"Alexa, ask Pocket Casts to give me a recommendation.|

Alexa Routines podcasts

Add podcasts to Routines

You can now also add Podcasts to your Alexa Routines, meaning that with one single command 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 type in the name of the podcast you want to play and choose TuneIn as the provider.

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.

More Amazon Alexa guides

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