Google Play Music

We've found ourselves plenty impressed with Google Play Music of late, but one area of concern has been with mobile data usage. Looks like that's being addressed in the most recent update (version 5.0.1052J, for those of you keeping track), along with some other improvements. 

Of the greatest interest to us is the addition of "new settings for mobile network bandwidth usage." Taking a quick look at the updated app, you have now have a "Mobile networks stream quality" section in the settings with three options -- low, normal and high, and there's definitely a noticeable difference between the best and worst quality. 

As carriers keep pushing us away from unlimited data plans -- and they've been pushing a lot harder over the past year or so -- that's become a cause for concern when you're away from the relative comfort and safety of Wifi. Google says this new version also reduces overall data usage, which is a good thing.

Also included in this update is improved download speeds for when you want to keep music on your phone or tablet. If you're downloading more than one album, you should be able to see some improvements straightaway.

And last on the list is improvements to search quality.

The update is currently showing on the Google Play Music listing, so look for it to push out to your phone or tablet anytime now.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!


Reader comments

Google Play Music update brings faster downloads, better data controls


Yeah. Now if it would just let me actually store all my music that I already own on my phone, I could actually use it. But, my own music collection won't fit in the phone's internal storage and, apparently, the Google player won't let you store it on a microSD card.

And I'll be dipped if I'm going to pay Verizon (repeatedly, over and over again) for data to stream music to me that I already own and would fit on my microSD!

If this is such a big deal, can't you copy the music on the SD card from your computer? Google Music should still be able to find it.

Granted my phone doesn't have an SD card so there is always the possibility that I have no idea what I'm talking about. ;-)

I can. But, that defeats the simplicity of the whole thing. I would like to be able to store all my music in the Cloud and have it automatically sync to my phone, my tablet, my laptop, and anywhere I come up with. So I can have just one place to go to listen to my music that I own and any music that I may choose from All Access.

What you described it what I already do - except I use iTunes on my laptop and I use an Android app called iSyncr that wireless syncs (automatically, every night) my iTunes library, including my playlists, from my laptop to my phone's microSD card.

If I'm going to keep using that, it really takes away any motivation to spend the money for All Access. It takes away exactly the value that the other article here on AC described as the reason for being willing to subscribe to All Access.

I may as well just keep using Pandora or some other free service.

Considering the ability to store your music in the cloud is free, and that no other service gives you that ability, I think it is a small price to pay to not be able to store it on your SD card. Google would likely have to charge much more than they charge for All Access to enable users to do that. It certainly wouldn't be free!

The benefit of uploading your library is twofold: 1) you can stream your collection to any device you have, and 2) your collection is essentially backed up against calamity. If you don't want to stream it that still has nothing to do with All Access, as that's a basic free Play Music feature. Pandora still can't match the options All Access offers.

Not only that, but if you want to be able to upload your music and have it sync to all of your devices, isn't that the very definition of "going to pay Verizon (repeatedly, over and over again) for data to stream music to me that I already own and would fit on my microSD"? Copy your collection to your SD card on your own(thus avoiding paying for the service, as Google would have to pay royalty fees), or stream them to your devices and pay a minimal monthly fee. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I don't think it's true that Google would have to charge a lot more to store on SD card though I do agree it would not be free. I base this on how Amazon does it. My songs from their cloud are on my SD card, free for 250 of my own songs and everything I buy from them. More then that cost $25 a year for up to 250,000 songs. That's only $2.08 a month....not free but not much money either.

Remember though that Amazon is primarily a retailer. They price their offering that way because they really want you to buy more songs. Google, on the other hand, is a services company. Since that product is not ad-based, the service itself needs to make money, therefore it would likely cost more. This is likely why Google doesn't have a free radio offering, for example. When you consider the difference in scale of the amount of users for Amazon Cloud Music and Google Play Music that would amount to some serious change for Google.

When it comes to music, Google is a retailer too. And have been for awhile now. Although you could be right about scale factoring in as Google will probably ultimately be in more countries then Amazon. Still, that is not the case now. I really do think Google could be providing this service for a reasonable cost. But what no one has mentioned, is that Google has been moving away from SDcards. So for them, the motivation isn't even there to begin with. I think that's the real issue with them not offering it. Not money.

You can store music on your external storage card and Google Music will find it fine. If you also uploaded it, you will not see duplicates (which is what I half-expected to see). Oddly (at least the last time I checked) the music on the SD card doesn't show up as "available offline".

Great, except it sits in ram when not being used. I don't use g music all the time, I don't need it running all the time.

We've been over this a million times.
Android is much better at managing memory than you are. Just stop looking at what you "Think" is taking up memory, and you will be much happier.

Yea people just so hung up looking at system widgets that display memory usage.
In the past it used to be a problem, but android has gotten much much better at memory management, and keeps stuff in memory predictively to reduce load times, obsessive task killers are actually making their devices slower.
With 2GB of ram being standard on phones now, I normally have 600 - 800mb free, quit worrying about what's still in memory.

I've heard this statement so many times, yet I find it impossible to believe. Whenever my Galaxy Nexus grinds to a near halt and decides to go into lag mode I do a quick task kill and available memory goes from less than 90MB to over 150 MB available. The phone then seems to respond much much quicker.

This isn't caused by the additional ram, it's because you killed a misbehaving app that was running in the background sucking your CPU cycles.

You would be much better served with closing unused apps in your task switcher so that Android can better learn which ones to keep in memory in the first place. Don't solve the symptom, solve the problem.

Bro, do you even know how ram works? Do you know about how Android's memory management works? Seem like not. You should do your homework and read up on how efficient Android is at managing apps in memory.

Since the other Google Play Music thread is full of people complaining about download bandwidth this should be very welcome.

It's EXCELLENT timing for me. My cancellation takes effect TOMORROW, so maybe I can check the usage and stop the cancellation if they indeed fixed things!

I am going to give them another month before I cancel. I am not yet sure how much I will use the service but want to keep the subscription price at $7.99, so I will give it another month. I would rather use the service for 7.99 than 9.99.

So glad that they've added mobile network stream quality settings, now I can stream music without it gobbling up hundreds of megabytes per album.

Question for everybody....I signed up for the free trial on day one. I canceled my subscription (not smartly) because of a rumor I read. That turned out to not be true. Anyways it says my 30 day trial is up tomorrow(14th). Will I be able to sign up for Google Music All Access again, even though I canceled my trial? I have tried signing up again, and its acting like its gonna make my trial run out before it will allow me to do anything. Anybody know?

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I called and asked about this a while ago, because I canceled when I realized how bad it was, but then realized if it's fixed, I would want my $7.99/month plan. The girl said I'll be given the option to subscribe once the trial ends, and that prior to June 30, I should still be able to receive the $7.99 rate. I do find it odd I can't re-subscribe while the trial is still running.

You could probably get what you're after by signing up with a different Google account and credit card. If you like it then go back to your "real" Google account and sign up for the paid service. If that doesn't work for you you'll need to contact support - that's my guess anyways.

I have actually come to dislike the last update. When a song is playing, the cover art jumps from side to side making it horrible to look at. Has anyone at Google actually used this app? How can you not break out in an epileptic seizure while this is on your screen. I really loved Google Play music before this. Please, please, please let us either disable that or go back to just a static picture.

That jump isn't new to the latest update. It doesn't seem to affect everyone though and I was immune for a short time, then it began and hasn't stopped since.

i hate the controls on this thing for local on device music. very confusing on how to pick/start/stop/delete a song. not straightforward anyway.

Have to agree with this. Using spotify is way faster in actually loading up a song and if you only want to play something you have saved to your device (to not use data bandwidth) good luck finding it quickly. Spotify shows you all your offlined playlists right when you boot up so you can jump right in.

Also, an option to enable a list view for Artists/albums/songs would be very helpful. As much as I love pictures lists are much quicker to get around in.

Agree 100%. I've been trying to use the Google music app for a month and it just frustrates the hell out of me. Spotify very easily saves you offline playlists to you device (and to the sdcard even) and it's very easy and intuitive to play from a playlist or to play a radio station based on a genre. With gmusic I can't seem to get it to just play a rock station. I have to base it on an artist.

And what's up with the album art? Its huge, It doesn't scale it down? I have a note 2, it should easily fit the screen. Every other app does.

I also think the quality isn't as good even at the highest quality setting as I get distortion in some songs. Play the same songs on Spotify at the same volume and highest quality and no distortion.

Bottom line is I want an app that I can stream music and save playlists to the sdcard for offline play when traveling. This app doesn't do that well. I don't care about my music, I don't have any stored on my phone or in the cloud, that's what the playlists are for. To find new music and save it to a place I don't need to worry about it. I'm not going to buy new music, that's why I pay for the service. If Google is going to push offline caching only to internal storage because that's how they want it to be regardless of the fact the biggest android manufacturer that is fueling android is using sdcards well ill take my money somewhere else. Google is getting a little to big for their britches.

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One more thing Spotify and slacker have on Google music, playing radio based on an entire playlist, awesome feature

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Did the store to SD Card feature get added to Spotify in the last month? When I was using it in May the only way you could store music to SD Card was loading an old version and then updating. Also, you had to redo the process everytime the app updated. I also couldn't understand why Spotify couldn't make a simple landscape mode. I had a hard time using a service that spent so much time making sure the iOS app looked so good, and acted like the Android app was an afterthought.

It still needs an EQ, and a single column list of artists/albums/songs so I don't have to scan left-to-right downward in the list. That's what I miss about the old Google Music :(

It actually uses the EQ on the device. Install one of the free ones from the Play Store, or use a ROM that has one baked in like CM10+. CM10+ includes DSP Manager, and the Play Music app pulls it right up when going to EQ settings.

Google does have perfect timing. My trial subscription expires tomorrow. I had canceled it already, but I will reactivate it now, if the current results hold up after some more testing this afternoon.

OK so quick update: same song on Google music and slacker. 2.68 mb on Google and 2.2 on slacker. Not bad.

Go to settings then the new mobile networks stream quality. Set to low. Audio seems fine to me. Or at least equivalent between the two.

Thanks for the comparison, that's good to hear. "Normal" quality was about 200kbps, so good to see they've found a way to stream it lower and still probably sound fine.

Next step is to offer conditional streaming. I want low on 3G, high on wifi. I need low on 3G because I'm on Sprint and I like hearing songs as one continuous piece instead of in 30 second blocks followed by 5 seconds of silence.

I believe the Low/Normal/High quality settings only apply to streaming on mobile networks.. It will stream High quality when on WiFi automatically if I'm not mistaken.

Now if would let us as stuff to our library straight from the play store app it would be perfect. Or just let me access my wish list in the music app.

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