Google Music—perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you’re anything like our AndroidPIT team, you will have eagerly been following the rumours and impatiently awaiting Google’s music service’s emergence from the Beta phase… And then it happened: last week Google finally opened the gates for users within the USA—and those who used a proxy or VPN to gain access.
The old Google Music version 3.0.1 was updated to 4.0.9, which is meant to enhance the functionality of the music service.
Find out everything you’ve been wanting to know about the new Google Music in today’s review.
Features & Use
Ju-u-u-st in case you haven’t heard of it, or because the app’s name isn’t quite clear enough: Google Music is a music player for Android by Google. I should say that some of our community members have mentioned that they remember preferring the HTC music app to the Google one (which was pre-installed on the HTC Desire). The difference between the two apps was apparently especially obvious when switching to a custom ROM—many users ignored the Google app and downloaded third-party music apps from the Market.
The new Google Music offers a feature that few (no other?) music apps have: the possibility to stream music from a cloud. I usually upload my music to Google and listen to it via the cloud (provided I am at home or have WiFi connection). I also love to ‘pull’ individual tracks, tailored to suit my moods (e.g. when I’m going on an outing our a trip). Why, you ask? Because otherwise you schlep around the 20 000 tracks that fit into the cloud, provided you carry around a large memory card with you, because 16GB is quite hefty otherwise.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty: the app can save single tracks, as well as make whole sets of music available offline. To do so, long click on an album or track—the app will then commence downloading it to your device. I should also mention that – provided you have activated the setting – the app automatically saves the last tracks you listened to, making them accessible offline.
Another great function: the Instant Mix, which creates a playlist for cloud tracks (not locally saved ones, though) of similar songs. Granted, Google aren’t the first to come up with this type of option, but the Google Music function works superbly well. If you don’t know what I’m talking about: it a function that will select tracks for you according to a musical genre, for instance cold wave, hip hop, jazz, etc. I prefer instant mix functions to shuffle functions.
That’s about all there is to say about the app’s main features; everything else is pretty standard and not all too different from what you might be used to from other music applications. You hit a button and playback begins. There are different playback options, such as the shuffle mode or repeat. Playlists can be created and saved. You get the picture…
Now, enough with the love fest, let me mention the few bits I’m not so keen on (nothing major, but worth mentioning because it’s stuff Google could definitely improve). Firstly, I don’t like that there’s no option to directly load songs that you purchased from your smartphone (e.g. a spontaneous splurges on Amazon) to the cloud. For now, you have to take the detour via your computer. Secondly, I do wish there was an option to interact via social networks, and Google (as well as all other music apps) doesn’t have one, not even to Google+…
The nit-picky quality of my complaints is indicative of the otherwise very high quality of the Google app, which is very well thought-out indeed. Hats off, Google did an excellent job.
Google Music has earned its position as my current music player, not only because of the music streaming option, but because the app is very good overall. I really hope that there will be an update soon that makes it possible to upload to the cloud directly from the Android device. For non-US residents: the app is well worth the hassle of getting onto your smartphone.
Screen & Controls
If you’re familiar with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich design rules you won’t be surpised to see what Google Music looks like: a dark blue theme with sharp corners and a sort of futuristic vibe to it.
That said, Google did a good enough job of integrating the infamous Ice Cream Sandwich UI into their music app.
The controls are awesome: very intuitive. Swipe in order to switch between the different tabs, and there’s portrait and landscape modes.
Let me know what you guys think about the design; I’m quite partial to it, which is why I’m awarding a full five stars in this category.
Speed & Stability
It’s almost as though Google Music needs a few seconds to collect itself when first starting the app, and I don’t even have the maximum amount of songs saved to my device.
That said, aside from this tiny hiccup the app runs very smoothly and seems very reliable indeed.
Google Music is available for free and there are no ads. The app CAN NOT (yet) be downloaded from the Android Market unless you live in the USA. Root users can gain access using the Market Enabler.