For the past decade, give or take a few years, podcasts have been slowly taking over traditional live radio programs.
For one thing, you can easily browse through the different episodes if you’ve missed one.
Another reason may be that, as anyone can have a podcast, there are MILLIONS of podcasts on different topics: politics, science, music, health, even prank shows—literally everything!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Amazon’s Echo devices. These babies are powered by Alexa, a voice-controlled smart assistant that makes your life simpler by helping you do tasks.
Put these two together, and you’ve got a voice-controlled podcast player. A match made in heaven. Now the burning question is: Can I play podcasts on my Amazon Echo?
Can Alexa Play Podcasts? – Yes!
Amazon has paired with TuneIn, an internet radio service provider that features 100,000 radio stations all over the world and almost 6 million podcasts. Best thing is, TuneIn is absolutely free, and you won’t need to sign up or login to anything.
Provided the podcast you’re listening to is also free. For paid subscriptions—or if you simply just find ads annoying—you’ll need to create an account and login to TuneIn premium.
So if you own an Amazon Echo, TuneIn is automatically available on your device. In fact, all you have to do is ask Alexa to play the program you want.
There are limitations to this feature though. Alexa will always play the latest episode of the podcast you want, but it can’t really jump to a particular episode. You can ask Alexa to “play previous episode” or “play next episode”, so shuffling a few episodes back or forward is no problem.
However, if it’s a long running podcast and has several hundred episodes, then you’d best be off hooking up your Amazon Echo to your phone or tablet as a speaker instead.
Also, if you don’t know the title of the podcast that you want to listen to, or you just want to browse, then Alexa wouldn’t be much help either.
However, there is a workaround for this. Alexa can also play podcast through third-party applications, which offer more features than TuneIn. You can choose from an array of third-party applications on the Amazon store, such as Podbean and AnyPod.
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How To Get Amazon Echo & Alexa To Play Podcasts
There are several ways to get Amazon Echo to play podcasts:
TuneIn works very well with the Echo, giving you a tons of radio stations and podcast to choose from. So this is the simplest and most direct method.
Let’s say you want to play the latest podcast of your choice. Just say “Alexa, play the Chinese Culture podcast.”
Here's a video on the subject. Although sometimes Alexa doesn't know when to stop! Haha...
TuneIn With Your Phone
You can use your smartphone, by opening your Alexa App and selecting the menu icon and then tapping on the Music and Books section and then look for TuneIn. You now have the liberty to play any episode of podcasts that you want to listen to.
Note that with this method, your Echo basically works like an external speaker (via Bluetooth).
This method works if you just want to browse for podcasts, or if it’s a long running podcast and you don’t want to say “Alexa, play previous episode” a million times.
You can also Google that particular podcast title that you want to listen to. For example, LibSyn has a podcast on Japanese History. You can then simply command Alexa to play that podcast through LibSyn.
This method would work best on devices like the Echo Show, as it wouldn’t be easy to navigate websites without visuals.
Go to the Amazon app and activate the skill “Podbean Podcast Player.” You now have two ways of playing the podcast using Podbean.
You can directly ask Alexa to play the podcast by its title: “Alexa, ask Podbean to play the podcast (title of podcast).”
Or you can link your Podbean account with Alexa, which gives you access to your followed podcasts in Podbean. This way, you can assign podcasts to numbers.
If you want to play a particular podcast in your followed list, just simply say, “Alexa, ask Podbean to play my podcast number one.”
With this skill, you can ask Alexa to search for podcasts on topics that interest you. Just say, “Alexa, ask Magic Podcast to find a podcast about coffee.”
This skill is god’s gift to podcast lovers. With AnyPod, not only can you pick a particular podcast episode, but actually jump to a specific time in a podcast. And it’s all voice-controlled!
Open your Alexa app and look for the hamburger bar if you’re using your mobile. If you’re using the PC, simply look for the skills. Search for AnyPod, and select enable.
You can now play the podcast of your choice by directly asking Alexa to play the title of the podcast you want to listen to.
With the amazing combination of Echo and TuneIn, your Echo is turned into a voice-controlled podcast player.
However, this built-in feature still has some limitations, such as its inability to browse podcasts or ask for a specific episode of a program to be played. Hopefully, Amazon will have an upgrade to this soon enough.
In the meantime, there are a lot of third-party applications on the Amazon store that workaround these limitations. They even enable you to zoom in to a specific time in an episode.
All in all, being able to vocally ask for podcasts to be played on the Echo is certainly a big plus. Yet another reason to go out and buy an Echo device!
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