Google Music Review, Feature Request and Discussion

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post since June, but time has escaped me. It was back on June 2nd when I received an invite for the Google Music Beta…or as the logo on their site names it, music beta by Google.

A few days passed before I tried to test out the beta, however what really drew me in was when I heard that you can upload up to 20,000 songs for free. There weren’t any limitations on file size, but simply the number count of songs that you upload to the service. It was at that point that my obsession grew and I immediately started uploading my iTunes library via the “Music Manager” software that you download after joining the service.

Off the bat it took a couple of days to upload my library of roughly 11,700+ songs. Unfortunately my library isn’t on a desktop or even laptop computer, but an external hard drive, so I would let it sync through my laptop throughout the day while at work.

Since I’ve owned an iPhone, it’s been my primary iPod and compared to my previous 60GB iPod, the size limitation of what I could carry around with me was a bit disappointing. With Google Music, my music goes everywhere I’m at and it’s not taking up any space on the iPhone. I will admit though, using Google Music through Safari on the iPhone is a bit limiting and I’m hoping that Google will release a mobile friendly site for Google Music someday soon. But then again, since Google is competing with Apple on the mobile front, I’m a bit worried that they aren’t really concerned about releasing a mobile friendly version or even a native iPhone app of Google Music any time soon.

The desktop web interface, on the other hand, rocks. One of Google Music’s biggest strengths is the power of Google’s Search at the top of the page. Type in an artist, album or song name and almost instantly you get a drop down menu of choices. With a quick click you can navigate to that artist, album or song listing and you’ll be enjoying your music library in no time.

The primary controls at the bottom of the screen give you access to playing / pausing, skipping forward or back, scroll through a song, thumbs up or down, repeat, shuffle and volume options. Everything you need to enjoy the current album or playlist.

 If you’re a Google Chrome user, as I am, you’ll also want to check out some of the sleek Chrome Extensions that are available for Google Music, such as “Better Music Beta for Google Music“. This extension adds an icon to the top right of your Chrome browser and gives you quick access to music controls for Google Music. The only thing missing is volume and hopefully they’ll address that in a future release. It’s a great extension for Google Music on the desktop.

Outside some of this core functionality of Google Music Beta, I’m really excited to see how Google will expand Music after it’s out of the beta stages. I’ve thought up a few things I’d really love to see Google integrate with the service, most of which deal with integrating Google Music into Google+. Here’s my list:

  1. Embed Google Music Controls into The Google Header: Just as Google has integrated Google+ into the header of all Google products, it would be awesome to have basic controls for Google Music embedded throughout the Google experience. Currently when using Google Music on the desktop, I usually keep a separate tab open for Google Music and it would be sweet to be able to bypass that extra tab and enable music controls right through the Google page controls.
  2. Google Music Social Media Integration: Integrating Google Music with social media capabilities, similar to Soundtracking or Apple’s Ping, would be smart and I would be highly surprised if Google doesn’t introduce some sort of social media functionality when Google Music becomes available to the public. Being able to share a song I’m listening to from Google Music to Twitter or Google+ seems like a logical next step for the service.
  3. Google Music Integration into Google+ Band Pages: I know that there’s no such thing as “Google+ Band Pages” yet, however much how Google’s Picasa service currently lets you upload your photos and share them to Google+, I think it would be awesome if Google Music would let you share your own music on Google+ through a musician / band page. I currently have a music page on facebook and all of the music I post to it is from external resources, such as YouTube or Soundcloud. If Google integrates Google Music into Google+ band pages, it would make the service even more valuable and powerful not only to Google Music users, but to Google+ users as well.
  4. Google Music Syncing: Okay so I’ve synced up over 11,700 songs to Google Music. Now what if my hard drive crashes and I lose all of that music? Sure it exists on Google Music, but they don’t currently give us an option to download these songs. Now I understand that on one side, I could give someone access to download my library, but on the flip side, they should offer this as an option, EVEN if they limit the amount of times you can download your library in a given amount of time.
  5. Native iPhone App or Mobile Web Interface: As an iPhone user, the biggest drawback to Google Music has been using it in the Safari mobile browser. Although it works, it’s very tedious to search for songs and navigate the interface. On top of that, even when you load up an album or playlist, unless you keep Safari open, music will not play back continuously and you need to switch back to Safari after a song ends to get the next song to play. If you’re an Android user, you are in luck. There is a Google+ Android native app available.
  6. Buy Music Online: Finally one of the biggest things missing from Google Music is the ability to search for and purchase music with the service. Unlike it’s competitors Amazon MP3 and iTunes, it currently only features the music you upload to it. I’m sure that Google is pressing for this, but it hasn’t come about yet.

Look the bottom line for me with Google Music is that it’s great to have all of my music online and available to me wherever I’m at. An added plus is that it acts as an extra backup of all of my music and that gives me some peace of mind. Constantly while I’m working, I use Google Music either to shuffle through every song in my collection or to jump to an artist that I’ve been in the mood to listen to. The interface is simple to learn, the speed of search is beyond what you get with iTunes and there’s so much potential for the future of the service. And of course, let’s not forget that Google Music is FREE.

I can’t wait to see what Google does with it next.

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