This isn’t going to be a full-on review of Google Play Music or some exhausting comparison to other streaming music services out there — if that’s what you’re expecting, then look elsewhere. That being said, I’ve been using Google Play Music for the last month or so (thanks to Google’s 4th of July promo) and I’ve been pretty pleased with it.
It may seem silly to try another service since Spotify dominates the current streaming landscape, but for those of us who remember Rdio (may it rest in peace), Google Play Music has Spotify beat in one significant area: its queuing system.
Essentially, Spotify’s queue is fundamentally nonsensical. If you’re listening to Album A, and you add Album B to your queue, Spotify — for some inexplicable reason — adds all of Album B’s tracks right after the Album A track that you’re currently listening to. Which screws up your Album A listening experience.
On the other hand, Google Play Music offers two methods for updating your music stream: “Play album next” and “Add album to queue.” If you’re listening to Album A and you select “Play album next” for Album B, then Google Play Music does what Spotify does. However, if you select “Add album to queue,” then it does what Rdio did (i.e., what God intended) and adds all of Album B’s tracks after Album A’s final track.
It’s a detail that might not be worth switching for if you’ve built up your Spotify account — but for those of us who used Rdio, it’s a nice return to form. Also, if you don’t care whether listening to music is a “social experience” or not, Google Play Music’s stripped down “Material Design”-based interface is a welcome change of pace.
It might be a bit too stripped down compared to Rdio’s lovely interface, though — I do miss those full-size album art backgrounds — but it’s better than Spotify’s jumble. And there are some other minor quibbles.
For starters, when viewing all of an artist’s albums, the order in which the albums are displayed isn’t always clear. Sometimes it seems chronological, sometimes not. At the very least, it’d be nice if album release years were always displayed. Seeing as how this is Google Play Music, you’d expect a bit more album info. Finally, I really miss the ability to easily search for music by label/publisher.
But hey, at least Google Play Music’s queue makes sense. That’s not nothing.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.