Podcasts are one of the primary ways many of us hear the latest in-depth discussions on topics we’re most passionate about. With the vast array of podcasts on the market today, they’re a fundamental part of most streaming services.
Amazon has realized this and has worked hard to make podcast playing as seamless as possible with Alexa. With several options to choose from, anyone can play podcasts, even without a subscription.
We’ll give you the exact steps you need to set up and start playing podcasts with your Alexa device.
Connect Your Regular Podcast Provider
Every Alexa device has access to Amazon Music’s free subscription tier. Its music selection is relatively limited, but its podcast library is jam-packed with shows you’ll often see on subscription-based platforms.
Popular Amazon original and exclusive shows like the true-crime-meets-music podcast Disgraceland and How I Built This, a show offering the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies, rival some of the exclusives found on other platforms, like Spotify or Apple Music.
For this reason, it’s technically not necessary to link an additional service, as there’s a good chance your favorite podcast is already on there. By default, podcasts will play through Amazon Music without the need to set Amazon Music up. So, for example, you can just say, “Alexa, play Disgraceland,” and Alexa will begin playing the latest episode. You can browse the selection in Amazon Music’s podcast section.
However, if your chosen streaming service has an exclusive you want to listen to, or you simply prefer a different platform, you’ll need to link your service up with Alexa. Here’s how.
Link a Service
In this example, we’ll use Apple Podcasts. But, the process is practically identical no matter which platform you’re setting up.
To start, you’ll need to enable the skill:
- Open the Alexa app (available for iOS and Android) and navigate to the More tab.
- Tap Settings.
- Find and select Music & Podcasts.
- Press Link New Service.
- Tap your preferred podcast service.
- Once presented with the skill page, select Enable To Use.
Now that the skill has been enabled, we need to link an account:
- Tap Settings on the podcast’s skill page.
- Click Link Account.
- Now, follow the on-screen instructions to log into your account and grant any permission requests.
- Your account is now linked with the skill. Tap Close.
Straightforward enough, right? Well, if you want to play a podcast, you just need to say, “Alexa, play (podcast name) on (service).” For example, we might say, “Alexa, play the Tim Ferriss Show on Apple Podcasts.”
If you want to simplify things, you can skip specifying the service by setting a default podcast platform.
Set a Default Service
To have Alexa choose your favorite platform to play podcasts with by default, follow these steps:
- Open the Alexa app and navigate to the More tab.
- Tap Settings.
- Find and select Music & Podcasts.
- At the very top of the list, press Default Services.
- Now, tap the podcast section at the bottom and select your chosen service.
Now, if you give any podcast-related commands, they’ll go straight to your platform. For example, you can now just say, “Alexa, play the Tim Ferriss Show,” and it’ll use Apple Podcasts to play the latest episode.
Manage Your Podcasts
Using your voice to manage podcasts with Alexa is pretty intuitive. Here’s a list of Alexa commands that you can use to make navigating podcasts easy:
- “Alexa, play (name of podcast).”
- “Alexa, pause podcast.”
- “Alexa, play podcast.”
- “Alexa, play the next/previous episode” (note: the next episode will be more recent and vice versa).
- “Alexa, fast forward/rewind x minutes.”
- “Alexa, go to x minutes and y seconds.”
- “Alexa, turn the volume up/down by x%.”
- “Alexa, stop the podcast in x minutes.”
The Alexa app can also be helpful for scrubbing to particular parts of an episode or selecting episodes if Alexa is having trouble understanding your request.
In the Alexa app, you also can see your recently played podcasts and switch between episodes. However, this feature is only useful for very limited navigation: recently played episodes will appear and can be played and skipped through, with the ability to skip to the next/previous episode. It’s not currently possible to navigate through the podcast’s shows like you’d be able to do on the native platform.
To do this, just tap Play in the bottom toolbar, then select your podcast and what device you want it to play on. If you want to manage a currently-playing podcast, tap the Now Playing bar just above the bottom toolbar. Here, you can scrub through the episode, play/pause, randomize episodes, skip to the next/previous episode and adjust the volume levels.
Use a Dedicated Podcast Skill
If you have issues with any of the platforms available to link with Alexa, there are a couple of alternatives.
Another default skill built-in is TuneIn, a radio and podcast player that will sometimes be used over Amazon Music, depending on your request and the listening device. Handily, you can browse podcasts and select episodes within the Alexa app using TuneIn.
The selection is fairly limited compared to even Amazon Music, let alone a titan like Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Still, there’s quality programming to be had with podcasts like Stuff You Should Know, Dateline NBC, and a few different NPR shows.
The voice commands for the TuneIn skill follow the same format as before: just say, “Alexa, play (name of podcast) on TuneIn.”
Some users report having issues asking Alexa to play specific episodes with TuneIn, so it’s advisable to use the Alexa app if you run into trouble. Follow these steps to access TuneIn’s library:
- Open the Alexa app and navigate to the Play tab.
- Next to TuneIn Local Radio, tap Browse.
- You can see local radio stations and the 25 most popular podcasts here. You can also search for a show using the search bar at the top.
- Tap the show you want to listen to, then the episode.
- Finally, choose what device you want the episode to play on.
While TuneIn is a radio and podcast player that was initially built only for radio stations, My Pod was explicitly created for podcasts. It’s also got some pretty powerful features, like reading from RSS feeds, web links, and any MP3s you upload to the My Pod website. But here, we’ll cover what it can do with podcasts.
You’ll need to enable the skill under More > Skills & Games to get started. After enabling, follow the on-screen instructions to link your account. Once set up, you can ask My Pod to play a podcast by saying, “Alexa, ask My Pod to play (podcast name).” Of course, you can also ask Alexa to skip through episodes, play the next/previous and start/stop play. To browse the library, you’ll need to visit the My Pod website.
My Pod can also play the latest/oldest episode if you ask it to. Additionally, it can skip to a specific episode if you say, “Alexa, ask My Pod to play (name of episode) in (name of series)” or “Alexa, ask My Pod to play episode x of series y in (podcast name).”
Create a Podcast Routine
Finally, if you’d like to trigger a podcast to play when a specific event occurs, read on to find out how to create a routine with Alexa.
- Navigate to the More tab in the Alexa app.
- Tap Routines
- Press the Plus in the top-right corner.
- Enter a name, then tap When this happens.
- Select your trigger.
- Go back and press Add action. Then, select Music & Podcasts.
- Enter in the details, like the podcast’s name, platform, and the length of time you want to play the podcast.
- Tap Next, then Save.
Now, when your trigger is activated, the podcast will begin playing. After it’s started, you can then control the podcast as usual.
Harness the Power of Alexa for Podcast Listening
You can now see just how simple it is to start playing podcasts immediately with Alexa. As we’ve seen, there are quite a few ways podcasts can be played with Alexa, ranging from using Spotify’s behemoth library to using free skills that still offer fantastic value.
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