If you use the Apple Podcasts app to listen to your podcasts, and your home is kitted out with Amazon Echo speakers, it's now a lot easier to use the two in tandem.
How easy? Just ask Alexa to play one of the podcasts you're subscribed to, and the audio starts playing. The only setup you need to do first is syncing your Apple ID inside the Alexa app for Android or iOS.
Set Apple Podcasts as the default podcast player (via Link/Manage New Services under Music & Podcasts in Settings in the Alexa app) and you don't even need to say “Apple Podcasts” in your voice command.
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Playback progress is synced across your Apple devices and your Echos using your Apple ID. For now, the feature is only available in the US, though we would hope it rolls out to more regions in the not-too-distant future.
Apple playing nicely
The new feature gives you access to the 800,000 or so podcasts in Apple's directory, but wouldn't be possible without some behind-the-scenes tweaks done by Apple and Amazon working together.
It's another sign of Apple opening up a few more entry points to its walled garden – we recently saw third-party smart TVs getting access to AirPlay 2, and now podcasts are available through Amazon's speakers.
Previously, only the Apple HomePod had this sort of direct access to the Apple Podcasts service. Apple obviously realizes that not every home has a HomePod or indeed an Apple TV for audio and video content.
As for the Amazon Echo range, it continues to expand and improve, with Alexa vying with Google Assistant to be the dominant digital assistant in the smart home space.