Google Podcasts shuts down tomorrow, April 2

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Each headstone in this miniature, decorative cemetery is for a defunct Google product.
Enlarge / A spooky Halloween display from Google’s Seattle campus.

RIP Google Podcasts. Google’s self-branded podcasting service shuts down tomorrow, April 2, and existing users have until July to export any subscriptions that are still on the service. Google originally announced the shutdown in September and has been plastering shutdown notices all over the Google Podcasts site and app for a few days now.

Google Podcasts was Google’s third podcasting service, after Google Listen (2009–2012) and Google Play Music Podcasts (2016–2020). The shutdown will clear the deck for Google’s media consolidation under the YouTube brand with podcasting app No. 4: YouTube Podcasts.

Google Podcasts has always had an awkward life.  Despite an eight-year existence, it has only been a viable podcasting app for maybe half that time. The project grew out of the Google Search team’s desire to index podcast content. That started in 2016 when searching for a podcast would show a player embedded right in the Google Search results. This only worked on and on the Android search app.

The Google Podcasts shutdown notice.

The Google Podcasts shutdown notice.


Actually subscribing to a podcast didn’t come until two years later, in 2018, allowing users to finally do the bare minimum of opening the app and seeing the latest episodes of shows they’re subscribed to. Again, though, this was all in the Google Search app, which didn’t make sense to anyone, especially when Google already had a decent podcast ecosystem going in its primary music app, Google Play Music. A month later it launched a formal “Google Podcasts” app on the Play Store, helping the app make a little more sense, even though under the hood the “app” was just a link to the podcast interface in the Google Search app. This was also the first podcast player to integrate with another Google Search project, the Google Home smart speaker.

Two years later, in 2020, Google finally launched an iOS app. At this point, four years after launch, as a third-party observer, you could begin to think that “maybe Google is actually serious about Google Podcasts.” The very next year rumors of “YouTube Podcasts” started, and the writing was on the wall for the search team’s weird little podcast app.

Google Podcasts is one of the major examples of Google’s disorganization. Along with Google Play Music Podcasts, Google launched two competing and disconnected podcast services within the same week! The Google Search team never had a clear reason for building a podcast app, and no clear vision; it felt like it was going rogue inside the company. Along with a glacially slow development pace, Google Podcasts feels like it should have never existed to begin with.