Sometimes when we as tech journalists write opinion pieces, speculative essays, or the occasional hot-take, we necessarily do so before we’ve had the benefit of extended time with a device or service to reflect on our initial impressions and hands-on opportunities. It’s not often that we have the time, or the opportunity, to revisit those early thought pieces. Oh, sure, we revisit big-ticket items and flagship devices like the OnePlus 8 Pro after six months or so, but that’s certainly not true of most devices, apps, or services. At least, not for me.
Since I am one of the people at AC who regularly uses Amazon Music as their primary streaming app, I thought it appropriate to revisit my earlier take when I said before that podcasts being stuffed into Amazon Music felt horribly unecessary. When I wrote those words, it did appear that Amazon stuffing even more features into its Music app was at best overkill and at worst a misguided direction for the app/service. Now that I’ve spent several months using this and other newer features in the app and changing my digital habits, I actually kind of appreciate what Amazon is trying to achieve here.
Many of my initial criticisms about Amazon cramming podcasts, live streaming, and videos still ring true, even after months of extended use. I still find that the podcast discovery process could be improved; after all, if you don’t find what you want from the home screen, it takes at least three taps and maybe even a text search before you can get into the podcast directory, and a lot of scrolling to search by category. And Twitch streams can be even more challenging to find if you don’t know where to look (hint, they are hidden in the Find screen under the Live tab, but that’s not obvious).
I still think that Amazon could expand on the number of quick search categories for podcasts and that it should have a major section focus on its own original content (which is the real play here). You can see which podcasts are Amazon Originals from their artwork, and occasionally Amazon features one or two of them prominently, but you would think it would want users to flock to these first. But those criticisms can be corrected by tweaks to the user interface and user experience — they don’t fundamentally change the added functionality of the service.
What I used to call feature-stuffing, I now call efficiency. A one-stop shop for all of your content isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What I saw before as feature-stuffing, I have now reframed for myself as efficiency. You see, I’ve been going through a bit of a digital detox lately, particularly when it comes to the apps and services that I use on my devices. It started with me deleting my Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps off my phone and culminated with me deleting my profiles from those services entirely. You could say that I’ve been taking a Marie Kondo approach to my phone (albeit two years late) and tossing away the apps and services that no longer bring me value or joy.
Indeed, I’ve been pairing down the number of apps on my phone and home screen to just the ones I regularly use, and one of the apps that I’ve been hovering over has been whatever podcast app of choice that I’ve been using (lately, Google Podcasts). After all, if I can get the benefits of two apps in one, why shouldn’t I?
At the end of the day, I’ll admit it — I’m all about convenience. Having my podcasts bundled with my playlists and stations ultimately makes it just that much faster and easier to listen to what I want, when I want, and I can really appreciate that simplicity in my life right now.
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