internet / reviews / 08/12/2015

Hands On: Google Play Music

Google Play Music has officially launched in South Africa today, 8 December. I’m all for streaming music, so it’s good news that there’s a new big player.

There are 3 aspects to the service: streaming, uploading music to your library and buying albums. The Google Play Music catalogue has over 35 million songs.

It is available at an introductory offer of R49.99 per month until January 2016, after which it will cost R59,99 per month. This is the cost per user, there is no family sharing option. There is also no free trial; if you want to try it, you have to pay minimum R49.99, which may put off some folks; also considering Apple Music gives you a three month trial.

I’ve played with it briefly and this is my experience so far.

All Google services need a gmail account to access it, so you’ll need to sign into any of your accounts (I assume people have multiple) to get started. You choose the genres of music that interest you and then a bunch of bands that shows up on your screen. This info is used to created recommendations for you initially. Similar to the Apple Music setup.

You can do this via the web or the Google Play Music app, for Android and iOS (fyi Apple Music has no web option). The interface is similar to how other music streaming services work. If it’s your first time using it, you may get a little confused by the pop-up function of the current track playing and how to get rid of it. You just swipe downwards.

The main menu view can be viewed by touching the icon on the top left corner of the landing page, which indicates a menu of some sort. This is what the menu looks like:

settings

You can stream via the ‘listen now’ option, or view new releases and chart toppers. My Library will show you anything you upload to your account; you are allowed to upload 50 000 tracks to your ‘locker’ (which doesn’t count towards your Google Drive storage) and you can browse different stations. The “Downloaded only” option is great if you want turn your 3G off and listen to what’s already in your offline play, which is recommended that you do over WiFi. In fact, if you go into Settings just beneath it, you will see options like “stream via WiFi only” or “download via WiFi only”, as well as the option to choose low/medium/high quality.

music-settings

You can also manage your downloads from here. Something that’s lacking is the ability to pause current album downloads to resume later. I added 3 albums one after the other and all started downloading simultaneously. The only additional option I have is to remove the download entirely, which is not what I wanted to do, then it means searching again and adding it again. So if you want to make albums available for offline play, don’t add all at once. I’m not sure if there’s a way to add it to your download queue yet.

album-options

When you view an album, the cover is displayed on half the screen, with tracks beneath it. But between album cover and track listing, you have options like radio, shuffle and share (social networks, email, Whatsapp, etc). Additional menu buttons appear to the right of the album name, indicated by three dots. Tapping that lets you add it to a queue, playlist, share, go to artist, remove from library, etc. If you want to add an album for offline play, you can do it via your search results by tapping the same three dots but in the results view, and selecting “download”.

Your My Library tab will show you, in addition to anything you may have uploaded to your account, what you’ve downloaded. It can be viewed by artists, albums, genre, songs, etc.

albums

I’ve been using the app since yesterday on iOS and prefer the app to the web like most services these days. It is less confusing than figuring out how Apple Music works. It feels straight-forward and fuss-free.

At the moment I would recommend it to anyone who is already on Android because it just make sense, and pricing is good for individuals (not family) at R59,99, when compared to the US price of $9.99.

Web URL: https://play.google.com/store

Google Play Music has officially launched in South Africa today, 8 December. I'm all for streaming music, so it's good news that there's a new big player. There are 3 aspects to the service: streaming, uploading music to your library and buying albums. The Google Play Music catalogue has over…

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Nafisa Akabor
Always online... except when I'm offline.




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