Google Music Beta Impressions

Google Music Beta Impressions

Jun 6, 2011

Google’s remote music storage beta program is entering full swing, as more invites roll out to users. Here is what users of the beta can expect as they get to try out the service:

  • Music Uploading
  • Google offers a Music Manager to download, that offers the ability to upload music based on iTunes library, Windows Media Player library, the My Music folder, or other folders on the hard drive. Unlike Amazon’s Cloud Drive service, Google has no problem with especially large music collections – and buying a 99 cent Lady Gaga album solely for additional space is not necessary. My music collection is over 7500 songs strong, and Google’s music uploader’s response? “Sure, throw ’em at me! I’m a big boy, I can handle it!” It might take several days to upload, but Google will take it. The app’s remote library updates as songs are uploaded, as well. It is not possible to upload music to a Google Music account from the phone.

  • The App Experience
  • Once in the Music Beta, and the Music app is installed from the Market, all that needs to be done is to connect to the Music Beta with the Google Account that was registered for the beta. Remote music will appear as it is uploaded to Google, and then can be played like any other song on the phone, and upcoming songs can even be queued up by the app. There is a short loading delay as unqueued songs start, and as the album art is downloaded. Google automatically adds album art it can find for tracks without that data. There’s some minor but noticeable compression on songs streamed via the service. It is possible to filter between all available music and music just available locally on the phone, as well. It isn’t possible to delete or edit data for tracks, neither local nor remote, though this is possible from the web interface. The web interface (which does work on Mobile Safari, for iOS owners) does support these, so it just needs to come to the Android app. Otherwise, it works just as would be expected for an Android music app, just with the ability to play music stored on Google’s servers.

  • Glitches and Issues
  • This is still a beta, so some glitches are to be expected, but there’s a few particularly odd ones, beyond the odd crashes. The most annoying one is that songs will often start replaying as they’re done, and the timer will go beyond what the song length is. This messes up song queueing in shuffle, as skipping to the next track loads up a song that generally isn’t being queued for download. This download queueing is an option that can be disabled in settings. There’s no equalizer option, and the thumbs up/down available on the website isn’t available from the app, either. There are no buttons available on the notification bar like the built-in music player, either. If a single song is picked from the Songs menu, it appears to be impossible to use that as the starting point for shuffling all songs, as no repeat/shuffle controls pop up; this seems like a glitch, as the repeat option should appear. However, the song repeating issue is the most annoying, especially since it makes playing music in a vehicle a potentially annoying proposition.

    Overall, I’m satisfied with the service, although the app has a lot of kinks to work out, that should hopefully be addressed in updates soon, and definitely by the time the service goes live. Users can sign up for the Google Music beta at this link, and those in the beta can download the Music Manager software and access their library from the same URL. Click here to download the new Music Beta app.