As Chromebook users, I think we’ve all been there. We have an app on our phone that we think we should be ready to install on our Chromebook through the Google Play Store, only to get the dreaded “Your device is not compatible with this version” a message. This is the case with Google Podcasts, which has become my favorite podcast player since I started leaving Spotify.
Access Google Podcasts from the web
Fortunately, Google Podcasts can be accessed from the web by simply going to podcasts.google.com. This web version has been slowly but surely improved over time. In 2020 it received a complete overhaul, and in 2021 Google added the ability to add subscription sources directly through the RSS feed. Later, the subscription tab started showing the familiar horizontal carousel we find in the Android app. Aside from a few cosmetic changes, features like queue and synchronization of the listening process across devices make Google Podcasts on the web a very similar experience to its Android app counterpart.
Navigate the web interface
On the main Google Podcasts page, you’ll find a persistent bar at the top with a very important search field. You can use it to find your favorite podcast and subscribe. Under the search bar, you will find the main “Explore shows” page that breaks down into two main horizontal carousel sections shown on the right. These headings are “Your subscriptions” and “For you“, which offer recommendations based on your listening history.
Just below you will find an additional category called “Best Podcasts“, which shows you several carousels of the most popular podcasts in several categories, which are also tailored according to your interests. Clicking in any of these sections will take you to a list of available episodes and/or present a “subscribe” and “player” which displays the duration of the episode.
On the left you will find a very simple sidebar that allows you to switch directly to your “Subscriptions“or your”Waiting line“, and also gives you the option to”Add by RSS feed“. If you press play on any podcast episode, a persistent player will appear at the bottom of the page with controls to rewind, play, fast forward and adjust playback speed.
How Google Could Improve Podcasts on the Web
As good as the web interface is, Google Podcasts is one of those apps that could definitely benefit from a true Progressive Web App (PWA) in the Play Store. There are several advantages to a PWA installation, such as having app shortcuts and being able to cache data locally: both of which I consider important features to have in a podcast or music player.
Apps like Twitter and Youtube Music already offer PWA as a default option on a Chromebook. Why can’t we do the same for Google Podcasts? Sounds like an oversight on Google’s part that shouldn’t be too hard to fix. I imagine a day when I can open Google Podcasts and download my favorite podcast episodes to my Chromebook before boarding a plane, and then be able to listen in-flight without needing an additional device.