How to play podcasts with Assistant on your Google Home

It's a little trickier than you might think

How to play podcasts with Google Assistant

Listening to podcasts on smart speakers around the home can feel like living ten minutes into the future. But as James discovered when he looked at how to play podcasts with Alexa, it can actually be more complicated than you'd think once you go beyond trying it out casually.

It turns out Google hasn't quite cracked it either - with all the pieces of the puzzle from Google Cast to its voice Assistant and its shiny, new dedicated Podcasts app in place, there's still a way to go until we're totally happy.

Read this: Google Assistant missing manual

So read on to find out what you can do now to listen to podcasts with Assistant and Google Home speakers and what's missing.

How to cast podcasts from your phone

If you're a podcast fiend already, you probably have an app on your phone. Now Google launched Google Podcasts in June - very late to the party - but there's also Apple Podcasts for iPhone and also a ton of existing third party podcast apps. I use an app called Podcast Addict on my Android phone - don't ask me why, it just happened - and it turns out there's that familiar Google Cast button at the top of the homescreen.

So when I've selected the podcast I want to listen to, I can just hit the Cast button and select the name of the Google Assistant speaker I want to send it to e.g. 'Kitchen speaker'. Easy. To quite casting and go back to my phone, hit the Cast button and press 'Stop Casting' at the bottom of the pop-up. Most podcast players for Android will have this baked in - Pocket Casts seems to be popular.

If you plan to listen to a lot of podcasts on your Google Assistant, it might be worth switching to Google Podcasts - if you haven't already. Annoyingly there's actually no built-in Cast button in the Google Podcasts Android app yet - we're sure it's coming - but more importantly, Google is advertising that you can listen across your phone and Google Home and not lose your place. More on that below - spoiler, it's not working for us.

If you listen to podcasts on another service, like Spotify or TuneIn, you can start podcasts via the app - on Spotify, just find what you want to play in 'Podcasts' then select the right speaker in the Devices tab.

But again, all Assistant voice controls use Google Podcasts, there's "currently" no support for other services - even Google Play Music. So if you're also using voice, your podcasts won't be synced across with Spotify, TuneIn and others.

Unlike music, there's nowhere in the Google Home app to go in and set a default podcast service but hey, there should be.

How to play podcasts with Assistant on your Google Home

How to play podcasts with Assistant voice controls

Google recently launched its new standalone Podcasts app for Android - imaginatively called Google Podcasts - and one of its best features is that you can pause a podcast playing in the app and (because it's sharing the same Google account) pick up where you left off on a Google Home speaker.

That said, we tried starting a few podcasts in the Google Podcasts app then asked both a Google Home Mini and JBL Link speaker "Hey Google, play Modern Love" or "OK Google, continue playing This American Life" but in each case, for us, it played from the beginning of the episode not the point we'd left it in the middle. At the time of writing there seems to be a bug with this feature (we weren't the only ones to have this problem) - let us know if you have more luck in the comments.

If you're not so bothered about syncing, you can use Assistant to play podcasts independently of the app/service you normally use.

Here's the main voice commands you need to know:

  • "Hey Google, play Revisionist History" or "Hey Google, listen to Rookie podcast"
  • "OK Google, stop" or "OK Google, stop the podcast"
  • "Hey Google, pause" or "Hey Google, pause the podcast"
  • "OK Google, resume" or "OK Google, continue playing"
  • "Hey Google, next episode/previous episode"
  • "OK Google, skip forward/back 30 seconds"
  • "Hey Google, listen to the latest episode of The Outline World Dispatch"
  • "OK Google, what's playing?"

Note - if you just say the name of the show and not the episode title, it will play the latest episode.

Once it's playing, you can also go into the Devices tab of the Google Home app, find the speaker, then use the controls there to pause/resume/stop and adjust the volume of the podcast you're listening to.

On Google Home speakers, you can also use the physical play/pause/volume controls on the device to control it while it's playing. If you want to interact with Assistant while listening to a podcast, it will pause the podcast while it deals with your query then start playing again when you're done.

More Google how-to guides

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