Google, in addition to its already large portfolio services, have hugely increased its Music service with the announcement and subsequent release of Google Play Music All Access.
True to form, Google have their music player based within the cloud, and accessible via any web browser. Simply go to Google Music, and sign in. You will be required to enter your bank card/credit card details, in order to use Google Play. If you aren’t an Android user, then it’s unlikely that you will have bank details registered with Google, but on the upside, you don’t have to actually pay anything, its just to register the details. Once signed in, you’ll be presented with a nice simple UI, with tabs on the left hand side enabling you to select ‘Listen Now’, ‘My Library’, ‘Instant Mixes’, and ‘Shop’.
In the middle of the screen are two options, telling you there are two ways to play.
- Add up to 20’000 songs from your collection to Google Play for free. (There is then a link to click to learn more)
- Shop millions of songs including hundreds of free tracks. (You can click on the link to then access the Google Store)
The best way to start you on your Google Music way is to upload your own music. Click on the ‘learn more’ section, and you’ll be taken to a page that prompts you to download and install the Google music manager. This is a very lightweight application that sits in your system tray. Just add the folders you want Google to read, and your music will either be matched, or uploaded to their servers. This all happens in the background but will take time depending on the size of your library and your upload speed.
To start the uploading process, select the files you want to upload with the Google Music Manager, which is a basic upload manager. Google will also keep the folders you have selected to upload, up to date with any changes you make. So if you delete an album from your computer, then your Google Music account will show the same change. The beauty of this all happening in a browser, is that you can log into your Google account from any computer (in fact you can authorise up to 10 computers to use the Google account and contribute to your music library), and have access to your music collection anyway.
iTunes Tip – You can also import your entire iTunes library and purchases to your Google account, however the metadata may, or may not, transfer over. Some of my purchases did show up with all the data from iTunes, and some of it did not, so you may have to enter the data yourself. Select the default iTunes save directory when choosing which folders to upload to Google Music, and there is shall appear.
You can check the status of your upload in the system tray.
Once the you have started the upload process, your Google Music page will start to populate with all the artist photos and details that Google has, and as its Google, you can be assured that there is some rich content to be had.
By selecting an artist, you are then taken to the artist page, where you are presented with the albums and tracks with which you own. Click on an album, and you have all the tracks in the album at your disposal. Simply press play, and you’re away. Google really have made a wonderfully simple music player. In addition you have the option to create your own playlists as well as Google’s own instant mix.
To create a mix, click on the Instant Mix button and type in the artist you want the mix based upon. Google will now do the rest with all of your content. I have used mix generators in most Music players, and they have all been pretty poor, but the Google one, it’s pretty sweet. It really did create a mix that I enjoyed!
When you create a mix, it will appear in the instant mixes tab under My Mixes.
Syncing to your Mobile
Alrighty, so we’ve covered the web based aspect of Google music, now for the mobile aspect.
If you are an android user then you will likely already have the Google Music app, and it syncs pretty seamlessly with your main Google Play Music account.
When first activating the music app you’ll be presented with an orange tab across the top which states ‘Listen Now’. There will also be a series of panes with artist artwork for music on your device. If you click on this, then a drop down will appear giving you the option to show either music on your device, or all music, this includes music that you have uploaded to your Google music account.
Warning – Note, that showing all music including music from the cloud, will use your mobile data if you’re not connected to WiFi. Also if you choose to listen to music that is not on your device, but in your Google Music cloud then this will significantly impact your data. Just food for thought.
Why is this a Benefit?
Why you ask? Because when you are connected to WiFi, or if you’re pretty free with your data plan, then you can download any of the music you have stored in your Google Music account do your device by simply clicking on the pin for that artist. This will ‘pin’ the artist to your device, or rather download the artist, song or album to your device.
You can also stream your Instant Mixes to your device, mixes that you have created in your Google Music. The only thing you cannot do, is download those Instant Mixes to the device itself. You can however create Instant Mixes on your device.
Having used the app and the browser based version for a few days, its a pretty sweet thing. Its something that Microsoft could, and should have done with their SkyDrive platform. Google have also made sure that there is an app for pretty much every platform, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 tablet’s, there is even a Mac version. Google are really pushing this platform right now, and its so easy to use, that I’m almost, almost tempted to switch to Android as a platform in itself.