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Google’s Area 120 working on ‘new ways’ to listen to podcasts with ‘Shortwave’

Google Podcasts officially launched in June with the company already previewing AI-powered features that are coming in the future. This includes audio one-day being surfaced alongside text and video as Search results. Given the importance, Google’s in-house incubator is developing another experimental podcast player called “Shortwave.”

The name was uncovered in a trademark filing by The Verge that details how “Shortwave” will allow “users to search, access, and play digital audio files,” as well as “share links to audio files.”

While the app sounds very similar in functionality to Google Podcasts, it is particularly distinguished by the sharing aspect and possibly shorter-form audio. Google confirmed the project today and described Shortwave as an app that “helps users discover and consume spoken-word audio in new ways.”

Services like Anchor today allow users to quickly create and start a podcast right from inside a mobile app, while listeners are able to follow and submit audio questions, as well as support creators.

As is, Google Podcasts lacks social features like comments or even the basic ability to rate a show. However, it does excel on search and discovery, with the app taking into account your listening history and preferences when recommending shows on the home screen.

Meanwhile, Google empathized that Shortwave is not related to Google Podcasts, but rather an Area 120 project. The Googler incubator is responsible for experimental projects like Reply, Grasshopper, and Pigeon. However, all Area 120 products could eventually be integrated into the company, but like a startup, it could also be shut down.

If succesful, Shortwave could coexist with Google Podcasts given the different feature set, or even one day be merged into an existing product.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: