That's kind of a big deal. Podcasts aren't exactly locked to Apple — services such as Overcast let you get them pretty easily on your non-iPhone smartphone. But they are most closely associated with Apple; the name itself references the iPod, blended with the word broadcast.
For those wondering, however, the term itself is generic. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected a past attempt to trademark the word "podcast," though specific podcasts have been able to register their names.
Podcasts have had a renaissance of sorts over the past year, and the Pew Research Center's latest State of the News Media report indicates that nearly one-third of Americans have listened to at least one podcast. Several breakout stars — think "Serial" or "99 Percent Invisible" — have cultivated their own dedicated audiences. Some have even managed to turn a profit.
For its own effort, Google has already confirmed that several popular podcasters and broadcasters including the Nerdist, Slate, Public Radio International and HowStuffWorks are already working with Google on the effort.
In addition to signing on popular producers, the company is also going to suggest podcasts to listeners based on "what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, or what they’re interested in" — a feature similar to the way that Google Play Music suggests tracks.
Google hasn't said when its consumer podcast section will officially launch, saying only that it would have "more to share in the coming months."