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Google's own music apps are the worst at Google Cast, but why?!

Smart speakers may have a lot of different uses thanks to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, but the four Google-powered speakers are in my apartment primarily for music streaming. Unfortunately for me, casting from Google's own music apps is so inconsistent that I'm often left reaching for my handy bluetooth speaker at least once a day because I don't have time to restart and rejigger my music because of the bugs.

That's a damn shame because when casting to a speaker group works, it's amazing.

YouTube Music is the newer, shinier music app from Google, and casting is six kinds of screwed up on it. You can't access the shuffle or repeat options while casting. Let me say that again: in 2019, the primary music app of a tech giant can't repeat or shuffle while casting to its own smart speaker system. That is insane, and in over a year since YouTube Music's relaunch, this still hasn't been fixed.

Play my funky music right

That's not the end of YouTube Music's casting issues, however. If you start casting a radio station — like the scarily good Your Mixtape — they will end at the bottom of the queue as it appeared when you started casting: new songs will not be added to the queue to keep the endless mixtape going. When casting longer playlists such as Liked Songs, the playlist often stops short, too, playing as few as 26 songs out of hundred-song mixes. This, too, has been an issue since the relaunch and hasn't been fixed.

There are some YouTube Music casting issues that have been slowly improving: it's been a few months since I've had my queue randomly replaced when connecting to a Google Cast target — so I'm hoping that bug has been resolved — but I have had my queue fail or clear when connecting to a Cast target. It's not happening as often as it used to, but I still have times where YouTube Music just refuses to cast a single song in a playlist and skips to the next song.

That bug pops up far more often on Google Play Music than it does YouTube Music these days — and no, these are not instances of trying to cast a local file — and while Google Play Music is overall more stable for casting than YouTube Music is, it still has more than its share of bugs.

In recent months, when casting to a speaker group, I've had one speaker start distorting during playback while the rest of the speakers keep going strong, only fixed by disconnected and recasting. More frequently, trying to connect to a Google Cast target results in a timeout or a failure. Even more frequently than that, though, if I don't manually disconnect at the end of a casting session — leaving my apartment and heading to the car, for instance — my queue will jump back several songs to the playback point it was at before I began casting.

Google Cast speaker groups are awesome, easy to set up, and one of the cheapest multi-room speaker systems you can start or expand, but when Google's own music apps can't consistently playback through them, what hope can we have with third-party music apps? When they work, they work wonderfully, but when they break — which they do with starting regularity — it throws off my groove, and makes me want to throw something out a window.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

18 Comments
  • Casting screws the audio quality anyway. The best option is wired.
  • Cast isn't about quality. It's about convenience. Not having to plug in my phone is a big deal. I want to start playing music in different parts of the house and keep my phone nearby as I move around.
  • Just listen to all of your music live so those pesky wires and microphones and speakers don't mess with the sound.
  • This is an absolutely insane situation. Unimaginable how Google continues to mess this up so bad with THEIR OWN APPS!
  • I couldn't agree more with this article... The issue I have most often is that YouTube Music, when casting to a speaker group, doesn't consistently support a shared queue where multiple users can all cast to the group and mess with the playlist together. As soon as someone new joins the cast, it kicks the others off and starts playing different music. YouTube itself has had shared queue casting for YEARS! Fix it, Google!
  • Netflix. Netflix is the worst at casting. 3 phones and a tablet and connecting takes forever.
    What Google does bad is the Home application always never had any of my devices connected when I want to quickly do something. Two home minis, 3 Chromecast, and one Android TV I often have to use analog options to quickly do things.
  • I was recently working outside over a few weekends on a project and brought out a couple speakers connected to a Cast Audio. I love Google Music, but the casting experience was just horrible. It would drop the connection. Or refuse to drop the connection. Or say I was connected and not play. And this happened every time I worked outside at some point. Sometimes it would take hours. Other days I just gave up on even getting it work. I agree that it is pitiful how poorly and inconsistently audio casting works. Thanks for writing this - I'm glad it's not just me!!
  • Don't worry, Google will just build an entirely new app and force subscribers to migrate in a year or two instead of fixing bugs, adding features and improving the app...
  • Haven't had issues shuffling songs. That isn't an issue with Google cast or Google play music. It might be your phone or wifi settings from the router. What could also be causing issues is if you have Google cast players that are from different brands. Example, my Chromecast audio solutions I use never have issues because they are all on the same firmware and software version. But sometimes I have issues with my onkyo receiver when trying to pair with other players because it uses out dated software versions. Again that isn't Google's fault. I think this and or your router is to blame.
  • I've had more success casting music using the system wide casting option (in the pulldown quick settings bar)
  • Things are still pretty rough in the smart speakers world. For example, we have multiple Alexa devices at home and Spotify family package. We can user Spotify only in one speaker, because they do not support the family package. So if someone is streaming something is Spotify and another person starts streaming something in another device the first one stops. This ends up in my kids arguing about it. I was using Spotify first!!! Use (free) Amazon Music instead! No, you use Amazon Music!
  • I use youtube music quite a bit, and have never had an issue shuffling music that i am casting. I'm doing this from my Google pixel 3a.
  • I'm on a Google Pixel 3a, and the second I connect to a cast target, the repeat and shuffle options vanish from the queue. I either have to tap Shuffle Play from the album/playlist listing, or if I'm streaming a queue that's been modified (or a station), I have to disconnect, shuffle till I'm happy, then reconnect and keep playing.
  • Google's Play Music service itself is a nightmare. Situation: jamming out to some dope tunes on my stereo through my Chromecast Audio (R.I.P.) while working on a project. Phone in pocket, PC turned off (I have no other devices that connect to Google). One track finishes up and I'm really looking forward to the next song on that album when that daft lady breaks in - "your music playback had been interrupted because another device is is accessing your Google account". I actually talked to a real live Google representative (which is a frustratingly difficult feat in and off itself) about this six months ago and they "fixed" my account, which means I get exactly as many music interruptions as I did before - weekly, at minimum. Get bent, Google. In fact, get bent twice. As soon as I use up my Google Play credit, I'll be cancelling my music service with your and going with Spotify. Not only will they not erroneously stop my music because they think I'm watching YouTube at the same time, I will be able to listen to music and actually watch a YouTube tutorial at the same time.
  • Is "rejigger" a technical or urban dictionary term?
  • Technical? I think?
  • If it wasn't for Youtube RED coming with Google Play Music I'd cancelled a long time ago. Google never ceases to amaze me at how they fail at the service side of things ranging from music to messaging.
  • "and no, these are not instances of trying to cast a local file"
    How does GPM cast local files at all? When I tell GPM to cast to a CC speaker, it says I must upload them to Google servers first to play. So how is that a 'local' file? I use apps like Bubble UPnP to cast local audio files.