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Google Podcasts app to introduce auto-transcription feature

Google has recently launched its new Podcasts app for Android devices with a commitment to include an auto-transcription service in the near future.

The Google Podcasts app is designed to make it easier for Android users to search and subscribe to podcasts, a feature which has worked well on Apple iOS devices but has largely eluded Android users to date since Google abandoned its Listen experiment in 2012.

While the Android platform can provide podcasts via third-party apps along with some podcast features in other Google apps, the new standalone Podcasts app aims to provide a simpler experience with a promise to introduce an important accessibility feature – the ability to have podcasts auto-transcribed.

In an article written by Nicholas Quah for Hot Pod titled Could Google’s new podcast app change the way we understand the Average Podcast Listener?, the potential benefits of the app are listed as:

  • Greatly decreasing the friction from search results to an actual mobile listening experience, thus operationalizing searches as a true top of the funnel;
  • AI-assisted features like quick transcription, greater in-episode searchability, automatic visual subtitling across multiple languages, and content-indexing, which will presumably give audiences more control over the judgment and navigating of a listening experience (and, also presumably, put some speech-to-text transcription companies out of business);
  • Cross-device syncing, which allows users to easily transition between listening on a smartphone or through a smart speaker;
  • Direct monetization features, like the possibility of a “donate” button.

For people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, the potential inclusion of an auto-transcription feature into the Podcasts app would be highly beneficial in providing access to a wealth of audio-based online content. While similar Google initiatives such as auto-captioning on YouTube have been met with a mixed reception due to quality issues, the professional audio quality of most podcasts is likely to make the auto-transcription services more useful and accurate.

The Google Podcasts app can be downloaded now from the Google Play Store. There are currently no plans for an Apple iOS release.

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