I/O 2019 saw some major announcements related to Google Podcasts, including Google Search indexing and web playback for desktops and iOS. While exciting, the app still lacks rudimentary features like auto downloading, but fortunately some users already have it enabled.
Announced by Sundar Pichai during the keynote, indexing audio content allows Google to surface episodes by relevance rather than just title or show notes. It’s a step towards Google’s goal of “making audio a first-class citizen.” This indexing requires scale that only a few companies possess and — coupled with episodes soon appearing in Search results — could make podcasts much more discoverable.
While exciting in the long-run, Google Podcasts could benefit from one particular rudimentary feature that’s shockingly still absent since last June’s launch.
Users today have to individually download episodes for offline access. This manual step is time consuming and repetitive. Back in January with Google app 8.91, our APK Insight enabled an Auto Downloading feature that would address this inconvenience.
Am I blind or does Google Podcasts not have an auto-download option?
— Ben Schoon (@NexusBen) May 15, 2019
For some, this feature has been live for the past month. Auto Downloading is accessible in the main Podcasts settings page under “Downloads.” The “Auto download new episodes” preference is joined by “Only on WiFi” to conserve mobile data. “Your podcasts” are listed below with toggles next to each show. There are also shortcuts to “Enable for all” or “Disable for all.”
The functionality is not widely rolled out, and didn’t appear on several devices we checked this evening. However, it’s good to know that — while limited — it is being A/B tested with users and not just something Google contemplated adding to Podcasts. It will hopefully see an actual launch in the future.