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Early concept materials for Google's 'Shortwave' podcast app leak

These leaked Google Shortwave materials are confirmed by Google to be outdated, but they are still interesting.

Published onSeptember 7, 2018

A leaked image of various logos for Google Shortwave.
  • Leaked materials related to the Google Shortwave app that’s currently in development give us an idea of what to expect from the service.
  • According to the leak, Google Shortwave will be a podcast app that trims down episodes to make them easier to consume.
  • Google, however, has issued a statement clarifying that these materials are outdated, so take it with a grain of salt.

A few weeks ago, we learned about a new app in development known internally at Google as “Shortwave.” The app appears to be related to podcasts in some way and is not at all connected with Google Podcasts — the current service that Google points to for podcast listening.

Now, via a leak supplied to 9to5Google, we have some promotional materials that give us a much better idea of what Google Shortwave is…or at least, what it could have been. According to a statement from Google, the leaked materials are legitimate but are also “a long-outdated artifact of early exploratory concept work, and not representative of the product now.”

Google is developing a possible podcast app called Shortwave
google podcasts app soundguys podcast

In other words, take all this information with a massive grain of salt, as everything mentioned here could be different now.

That being said, the mission statement in the materials describes Shortwave as a way to explore podcast content without having to listen to entire episodes. Instead, you would tell Shortwave what kind of material you want to hear and then Shortwave would supply you with curated clips which give you bite-sized bits of information from various podcasts.

Here’s the mission statement as it once was:

A leaked image of the Google Shortwave mission statement.

While Google makes it very clear that these promotional materials are old, it’s hard to believe that the entire mission statement/concept of the app would change dramatically, which leads us to conclude that it’s very likely that the basic idea of Shortwave is still in effect. If so, the statement above likely is still applicable.

The leaked materials also had some screenshots of what the app itself would look like:

Screenshots of an early concept demo of Google Shortwave.

From the screenshots, it appears you would choose within Shortwave what kind of content you’re interested in at the moment and then Shortwave would supply you with clips from various podcast episodes curated for your choice.

Listen to podcasts through Plex! (Still in beta, though)
A screen shot of Plex podcasts as seen in the web interface.

The only thing that’s not clear is how Shortwave a) comes up with these selections and b) edits the clips. While it’s perfectly possible that human editors perform these two tasks, it seems far more likely that Google is using artificial intelligence to perform most or all of the work.

It’s also not clear how podcast creators would feel about an algorithm (or human) cutting up their episodes without their input. What about artistic control? What about ad revenue? There are still lots of questions.

Regardless, Google Shortwave does appear to be a brand new technology within the podcasting world, which is refreshing considering the way we create and listen to podcasts has been pretty much the same for years now.

What do you think? Is this a great idea, or does it sound too complicated? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: The Android Authority podcast is back! Here are four new episodes to celebrate!

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