Google is significantly upgrading Assistant’s podcast capabilities with more granular commands that let you search and play by episode, topic, and even guests.

For the longest time, “Hey Google, play [podcast name]” would just start the latest episode. Google Assistant can now “help you jump right into a specific episode” with new commands that let you search for episodes with three filters:

  • Search by guests: “Play the Pivot episode with Bob Iger”
  • Search by topic: “Play the Stuff You Should Know episode about the Star Wars Holiday Spectacular”
  • Search by episode: “Play the Story Pirates episode about the holidays”

In our brief testing (with Google Podcasts set), commands like “Play last week’s episode of [podcast]” also work for more hands-free control over audio across your Assistant devices.

This voice upgrade comes after the new Android Auto redesign, which will soon introduce a timeline scrubber. At the moment, you can just use set-interval rewind/forward to navigate an episode. This is not yet live in the beta but will be coming later. Google told us this feature was aimed especially at improving the podcasting listening experience in your car.

Meanwhile, ahead of the holidays, Assistant supports a “Hey Google, when is my Walmart order arriving?” command on Android if you have that retailer’s app installed.

Get quick order updates: Check in on all those groceries and gifts you ordered for your guests without lifting a finger.

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Abner Li

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