What you need to know
- YouTube Music is beginning a roll out of a new playback screen on its Android app.
- The new UI puts the repeat and shuffle buttons on the playback screen rather than a queue screen.
- It also features the addition of lyrics to supported songs and a bigger, easier to edit queue screen.
- The update will roll out to Android over the next few weeks, with the iOS update planned "in the near future".
The YouTube Music interface tweaks that we've seen testing in the last few months are finally beginning to roll out to the general public! This update includes the sharper, more useful playback screen, the rollout of a lyrics tab in the playback menu, and seamless switching between the album and video version of a song is now always visible rather than having to tap the album art to bring it up. You can also access the options to download, share, or add a song to a playlist by single-tapping the album art, which I'm interested to see if that interferes with the double-tap seeking.
Lyrics is something that even the Google Play Music app never really got, and I'm pleased as punch that I'll be able to pull up lyrics without having to double back to Google Search for them. The re-positioning of the shuffle and repeat buttons and like/dislike buttons is another welcome change, though I'm sure it's going to take a little getting used to. The playback bar for seeking is a bit smaller, but with double-tap seeking I'm not too bummed about that. What I am bummed about is the cast icon being missing from all of the screenshots in the screenshots YouTube shared today.
For the most part, though, this is a great change and one I've been waiting on for the better part of six months. It comes not even two weeks after YouTube Music finally rolling out the music locker function, and I'm hopeful that this ramp-up of feature updates ahead of Google I/O might mean that the Google Play Music migration might finally be on the horizon. We're getting closer and closer to feature parity between the two apps — though there are certainly still problems in genre browsing, discovery and casting that need to be addressed — and migration of GPM libraries is something we've been waiting on for almost two full years now. My library has been fractured for so long, it's going to be weird and amazing to actually get it back together in one place.
Update: Finally rolling out
It took Google over a month to finish A/B testing this, but reports indicate that it's finally rolling out to a wide range of users. It's a server-side update so you don't need to update your app. It'll probably hit you within the next few hours to days.
Update 2: And it's broken
The YouTube Music update is now widely available for many, but there's only one problem. It seems to be broken. Many users report a truncated version of the UI with no way of reverting to the old version.
You can get full functionality back by playing music saved to your offline playlists, but that means having to manually download every song you want to listen to, at least in the short term. Google will probably roll out a fix soon, and 9to5Google reports that they're working on it, but it's going to be more than a little frustrating in the meantime.
Update 3: The fix is in
Google has worked its magic, and the YouTube Music app should now work as intended. Alongside the fixed YouTube player experience, Google is also rolling out the new Explore tab with this update. It's no A/B test. The company says both features should be live for all Android users by the end of the day, while iOS users will only get the latter.
Get it all
YouTube Music is still trying to get good.
Between the music locker finally arriving and the new playback interface, YouTube Music might finally start getting close to migrating Google Play Music over and making a real run at Apple Music and Spotify.
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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.