Ever since the iPhone first burst on the scene, it has been possible for you to carry your music everywhere with you without carting two devices around. However, you were still stuck with either having all your music on your phone or just a select few; there was no middle ground.
Enter Apples iCLoud, Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google Music. All three services afford you the opportunity of storing your music collection in the cloud and playing it anywhere, anytime and on any device. While I know a bit about Apple’s iCloud and Amazon’s Cloud Player, I have not had the opportunity to use them personally. However, I have been using Google’s Music for the past month and a half and this is my personal review of the service.
Now before I start, it is important I draw your attention to the fact that Google Music is currently in Beta and is “invite only” so some of the “inconveniencies” I might draw you attention to might be fixed by the time it comes out of beta.
To sign up to Google Beta, you need to be invited. You can request an invite from Google but at the moment the Music Beta is only open to users in the United States. There are ways around this but I won’t go into them. You can find enough guides on how to score an invite and sign up if you are not in the states on Google. Alternatively if you know someone who is already in the beta, you can get an invite from them.
PS, I have have three Google Music invites to give away strictly on a first come first served basis.
Setting up and uploading your Music
Once you have successfully signed up, your next step is to download the Google’s Music Manager, an installable file for both PCs and Macs. Unfortunately you cannot load your music without first installing the Music Manager. I thought Google will make some sort of webapp for uploading your music, especially as Google have been pushing their Chrome OS, which is purely a web based platform. Makes me wonder how Chrome OS users will get their music unto the cloud; if they do not have a PC or Mac. Maybe when Google finally launch their Gdrive but in the meantime, we cannot write of the desktop just yet.
Once you have downloaded and installed the music manager, all you have to do is point it in the direction of your local music files and it will automatically start uploading your files for you. This is the section of the process that takes the most time depending on the number of songs you have and how size of your broadband. My library of around 8,000 songs took approximately a week to finish uploading, although my router kept cutting out throughout the process, so in reality it should have taken less time. On a positive note, you can start listening to songs as they get uploaded, unfortunately, the song/playlist you might really want to listen to could be the last to get uploaded.
The Music Player
Once you have all your music uploaded, you can download the android app or listen to it through your favourite browser. At the moment, there is no iOS app, although I am sure they will bring one out sooner or later. In the meantime, if you are using an iOS device, you can listen to your songs through your favourite browser.
The android app is quite sleek and polished, as you would expect and works really well. I tested out listening to a playlist on a 3G connection on my way to work and I can say that throughout my journey, the player did not stutter once. As soon as you hit play, the app will start downloading the songs and it is pretty quick. It will also cache the other songs in the playlist while the first one is still playing, so you generally have a seamless experience even if you do lose connection once in a while. You can also select playlists and songs to be available offline and they will get downloaded to your device allowing you to play them even if you do not have any internet connection. All in all, I have enjoyed using both the android app and the web player.
Now to my peeves with Google Music Beta
- Two people cannot share a Google Music library, I understand why they will want to do this, but they should also realise most families generally share a music library and having to go through the upload process for each account is quite tedious. At the moment I have no way of sharing my library with her without uploading the entire library to her account as well. This makes is very inconvenient for sharing playlists and updating libraries with the latest songs.
- Google Music does not seem to understand featured artists or collaborations. So if you are browsing through your music using your artists tab, you can have up to five instances of an artist. One for the artist on his own and one for each collaboration. So for instance, David Guetta and David Guetta ft Rihanna are seen as being separate artists. Why???
- There should be a way of telling Google Music to upload a particular song or playlist first, during the upload process. The songs I really wanted to listen to where among the last to get uploaded when I was setting mine up.
Aside from that, I would have to say I have been very impressed with the Google Music service so far and knowing Google, I can only see it getting better with time.
So what have been your experiences/peeves with the Google Music Service?