Podcasts and Amazon Echo are the perfect combination: you get good sound quality, voice control, and a variety of podcasts to listen to. Let’s take a look at how to tap into the huge podcast library and how to go beyond it if necessary.
How does your echo support podcast playback
We’ve shown you how to fine-tune your Amazon Echo to get weather and sports updates, but you can also get full podcasts. Given the radio-like nature of podcasts, it’s the perfect extension of your Echo, allowing you to also use them to get news, social media commentary, information about your favorite hobbies, and even radio shows. It’s actually so easy to do, you’ll wonder why you haven’t enjoyed podcasts on Echo yet.
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Unlike most services integrated into the Echo ecosystem, such as Spotify Radio and Pandora, there is no need to register (or pay any fees) to listen to podcasts through your Echo devices. Amazon is paired with podcast and internet radio service provider TuneIn, so TuneIn’s free services of 100,000 radio stations and 5.7 million podcasts are automatically available on Echo. No registration, login or setup is required.
Using TuneIn with your echo device
Since there is no need to sign up for a TuneIn account or even enable it in your Alexa account settings, you can actually start using it right now. Is there an Echo device nearby? You can instantly call in to any podcast in TuneIn’s vast library. Want to hear the latest edition of the popular RadioLab podcast? No problem, just say:
«Alexa, play in the RadioLab program.»
If for some reason this command combined with a specific podcast name disables Alexa, you can also use a more verbose and specific command like:
«Alexa, play the RadioLab podcast on TuneIn.»
Now it’s all good if you know the name of the popular podcast you want to listen to (since there’s a very good chance that TuneIn has a very popular podcast that interests you), but it won’t help you much if you’re more interested in finding new material to listen to. listening.
TuneIn Podcast Search (Inside and Outside Alexa)
There are two (well, maybe two and a half) ways to find new podcasts to listen to. First, you can search the Alexa companion app. This method, if you don’t already know the name of the podcast you’re interested in, is a little underwhelming as the Alexa app’s user interface for this particular feature is a little clunky.
To search within the Alexa app, open the app and tap the menu icon located in the top left corner.
Select Music & Books from the sidebar.
Scroll down and select «TuneIn»
Here you will find a search box as well as a list of laundry categories.
There really is no rhyme or reason why some categories are listed above other categories (for example, we never figured out why «Brazilian Popular» kept appearing on the change category lists we looked at). You you can scroll down and click on the Podcast category, but that in turn gives you more subcategories that don’t necessarily feel best laid out.
In fact, we are only showing you how to do this particular step in the interests of thoroughness. To be honest, if you don’t already know what you’re looking for, you won’t find it very easily.
Instead of looking into the Alexa app, you can visit the TuneIn website to make it easier to browse its content.
Not only can you use the search feature easier than watching on your phone, you can also go straight to their (much better organized) podcast list by going straight to the Podcast Radio category.
To be honest, the extra half of the last trick—search the web, not Alexa—is much better if you search the larger network instead of being limited to just TuneIn (either through the app or through the search portal on the website). ).
Considering we weren’t blown away by any of these methods, it’s much more efficient to use Google with search terms targeted to your interests, such as «best history podcasts», «best podcast radio shows» or the like. Plenty of blog posts have been written about these topics, and you won’t have trouble finding a podcast article for those with even the most eccentric tastes.
Once you find something you like based on your general search, it’s not hard at all (given the size of TuneIn’s extensive, if difficult to browse) catalog to find it. If you stumble upon the gem of an absolute drama podcast called Welcome to Night Vale via the also excellent Radio Drama Revival podcast, you can find it with a simple search on TuneIn or call its name by asking Alexa for «Play program Welcome to Night Vale» . ,
Going Beyond TuneIn
When it comes to ongoing event type podcasts (such as various NPR podcasts that you can click on) or podcasts that don’t have any particular continuity between sessions (such as episodes of RadioLab, Nerdist, or other popular and frequently published podcasts dedicated to topics), the way TuneIn serves podcasts with the latest edition is more than acceptable.
However, when you download a podcast that has continuity—like Welcome to Night Vale—the limitations of the Alexa interface (both verbally and on the app) become clear. While Alexa’s TuneIn integration is perfect for requesting a podcast and playing the most recent episode immediately and quickly, it’s quite painful (if not impossible in some cases) to return back to the podcast directory.
In the case of the charming and eccentric Welcome to Night Vale podcast, we recommended — the podcast is set up like you’re listening to a very odd little Southwestern US town’s public radio station — it’s got over a hundred episodes.
If you want to listen to them in order, you’re stuck approaching the problem in one of two ways. Either you have to scroll through a long archive in the Alexa app (after searching for Welcome to Night Vale) — a method we found particularly frustrating because the search results were oddly inconsistent — or you need to use your voice to page back through previous episodes. All previous episodes.
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If you find a 100-episode podcast you like, you’re stuck. If you are using the verbal command method, call the podcast by its name and then say «Alexa, play the previous episode» over and over and over and over until you verbally return to your beginning. To make matters worse, Alexa will forget that you did that stupid circus act and start you up again the next time.
In such cases, we strongly recommend that you put aside the convenience of echo voice playback and instead — at least until you run into lag on the particular podcast you’re interested in — using your echo is more like extending your phone’s Bluetooth speaker. not on the smart device of the future. Use the built-in podcast app on your iOS device (which syncs beautifully with iTunes’ extensive and easily searchable podcast library) or the hugely popular and award-winning Pocket Casts (Android/iOS) podcast software.
After you’ve retired, you can return to the Alexa call to play the latest episodes for you. It’s a bit of an annoyance for those long-running shows with continuity, but for now, it’s a hoop you have to jump through until (or even when) Alexa’s handling of such shows improves.
Do you have a favorite podcast that you would recommend to fellow readers in line for their Echoes? Join us in the comments and share.