This might sound stupid if you already have, and use, Google Play Music, but for many people with devices that don’t have it, that’s a shame, because it’s really very good indeed.
There are a good number of music playback apps on the Play Store, including greats like DoubleTwist and most phones will have something passable installed. But it’s one area that often lacks the standardisation of the Google Android ecosystem.
So, what makes Google Play Music so special? Well, the first thing we like, is the ability to play music stored in your Google cloud. That’s good, because music you buy from Google is automatically added to this storage, so you’ll always have it. It is also good though, because you can upload, for free, up to 20,000 of your own songs. To do this, Google uses a mixture of standard uploading, and the ability to spot what music you own, and then match it to songs it has in its storage space already. It’s clever, and means some albums will upload nearly instantly.
Of course, while we love the idea of cloud storage, there is always the problem of bandwidth. It’s nice to be able to stream music when you’re on Wi-Fi, but when you’re out and about on 3G, things can get a bit slower, and more expensive. That said, playback via the cloud is great, and works well, as long as you’ve got a good 3G signal.
There’s a PC app that allows you to upload music from your computer. It runs all the time, and can be told to auto-upload things you’ve bought on iTunes. It’s the very definition of nifty.
But, back to the actual app. Here things are automatically shown together, regardless of whether they’re “cloud” or locally stored files. This can be a little confusing, in truth, and when you’re on restricted bandwidth, you might find yourself a bit frustrated.
One of the good things though, seems to be that Google Play Music is better than most apps at grouping music in to an album. Our Magnetic Man album, ripped from a CD in iTunes has always confused all of our other apps – and even iTunes – by incorrectly grouping the songs into a series of albums, based on who the guest singer is. Google Play music seems to manage this better.
We also like the fact that Play Music also has a proper EQ system. It’s amazing how much this is ignored on music apps, but here you can tweak the EQ settings until your ears are content. There are also bass boost and 3D options. The first, you can use to get a nice boost on the low-end; the second, you should never, ever, ever use.
As you’d expect. There’s plenty of album art too, so the app looks pretty spot-on. The only caution we’d urge is that this big, bold cover stuff means that if you’re sneakily listening to Carly Rae Jepsen, then everyone will know about it. That’s going to cause some red faces.
Oh, and if Google is reading, one more request. If we could have podcasts integrated into this app, that would be simply AMAZING. But even without, this free app is a must for anyone with a supported version of Android.