Google Music review: good, but still nothing life-changing
My Google Music invite came through a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure what took so long, since they surely would want an internet superstar like me who has ALMOST A DOZEN RSS SUBSCRIBERS to give it a whirl, but whatever. Google, ammiright?
The short story of the pros: it’s pretty slick for something that’s playing from the cloud. The short story of the cons: it still falls well short of what I’m looking for in a cloud music player, which I could also say about Lala’s old player, Amazon’s and even what little I’ve seen of Apple’s offering. I’m picky.
The player itself is actually pretty nice. Songs play quickly and the view switches quickly. Usability is good and intuitive. I’m not sure how I feel about the orange overkill, but overall, the player is probably the smoothest that I’ve seen of any of the cloud music offerings. It’s light years better than Lala’s now-defunct player, but Amazon’s player is pretty quick as well.
You can drag and drop songs within playlists, which is nice. There’s not a way to create automatic playlists like iTunes’ fantastic smart playlists function, but I would guess that feature is coming.
The uploader is extremely slow, but it’s also made me realize that my problem may be in my wireless connection. Other people have reported that they’ve uploaded 1000 or so songs in about half a day or so. It’s taken me days of constant uploading to get to that point. So it’s obviously more than just the uploader software. Still, the uploading is a problem.
Instant Mixes: These (“Instant mixes use a combination of metadata and audio analysis to create playlists that match the mood and style of your selection”) work about as well as the Genius playlists in iTunes, which is to say that they’re basically functional, but their music grouping is pretty substantially flawed. I created a playlist based on Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend”, and it threw in a live version of Gladys Knight and the Pips “I Heard It Through The Grapvine”, but didn’t include Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova”. It seems more like these are just random or based on BPM rather than similar styles of music. It would make more sense just to stick with shuffle play.
Thumbs up/down: There’s been a lot of study that shows that like/dislike options work better than five star ratings, but that’s just for giving feedback. I’m a huge fan of the five star ratings within iTunes as it lets me get much greater control over my playlists, and thumbs up/down isn’t nearly as useful for me. Thumbs down.
Library management. Not great. I’m sure that the ability to view your library as a list or as album covers is coming, but at the moment, you either find an artist or song by doing a lot of scrolling or doing a search, neither of which is ideal.
Other features I’d like to see:
- Different display options, like having a list view of album covers with the songs next to it
- Have a “recently played” auto mix
- Have a way to switch to the song/view currently playing, like iTunes’ ctrl-L
- Have a “date added” column in the view as well as a year column. Basic stuff that I sure hope is coming.
- Something like iTunes DJ: an ongoing, temporary playlist
- Have some sort of social aspect: add friends and see what they’re listening to and liking, a combo of last.fm and Lala’s old social ticker.
Anyone else out there have experiences with Google Music?
Tech boiled down: more time on YouTube, Facebook complete kill, and more
The week in a surface review:
Facebook looks like it’s testing a way to completely delete your account. Finally.
Google Music might be having a fire lit under it to get it out by year’s end. My prediction is that it’ll be nothing to get too excited about.
Safari got an update and now has extensions. Welcome to the party, Apple. Lifehacker gives a guide to a few of the extensions.
YouTube ups their maximum upload time to 15 minutes. Not that anyone watches anything longer than two minutes anyway.
Google adds real-time snow and rain to Google Earth. It’s just a start, but just imagine what this has the potential to be like.
What did I miss?