The word is out, Google is officially moving away from Google Play Music! Replacing Google’s native cloud media player app as the new default music streaming app for android is YouTube Music. The news isn’t entirely unexpected, but everyone getting a new Android 10 device will definitely notice the absence of Google Play Music in the app grid. Whether we liked it or not, we’ve all gotten used to its presence over the last eight years.
So, what’s this big transition all about? What happens with Google Play Music now that it doesn’t come pre-installed? Is YouTube Music a good replacement? And can we expect it to be competitive with the likes of Spotify? Let’s find out.
Google Play Music has gone through plenty of tweaks and improvements since its initial release back in 2011. The current version is an easy to use music streaming service with a catalog of 40 million songs. Standard/free users can upload up to 50,000 songs to the music locker and play them back any time, without using the device’s storage space. Paid subscribers enjoy facilities such as on-demand streaming from the entire catalog, additional features like radio, finding bands playing close to your location, top music charts, and podcast discovery. With its quality streaming and elegant interface, Google Play Music should have been Google’s answer to Spotify and Apple Music. Only it never quite made it there!
Apple’s other music streaming service, YouTube Music was launched in 2015. Google gave all paid subscribers of Google Play Music free access to YouTube Premium (previously called YouTube Red), an advertising-free streaming service with premium content. For a while, android users read nothing into Google offering two different music streaming apps to its consumers. Then, in 2018, YouTube launched a completely revamped iteration of YouTube’s Music. This new version came with access to thousands of albums, artists, songs, and playlists, with features like searching a song by typing in vague lyrics or descriptions. The premium version was ad-free, with access to YouTube Originals and the facility of downloading videos for offline viewing.
To a lot of people, the reimagined YouTube Music app was a signal that Google planned to replace Google Play Music with YouTube’s Music in the near future. At that time, Google sources had denied having such plans. But that changed recently.
When Google announced making changes to YouTube Music, the company made it clear Google Play Music wasn’t going anywhere. So even after being replaced as the default and pre-installed music streaming app on android phones by YouTube’s Music, everyone using the app can go on enjoying the service as usual.
Users purchasing a new Android 10 device can still download the app from the Play Store and continue using their existing account on the new device. Also, Google Play Music will still come bundled with all new devices that ship with Android 9.
Speaking of long-term, it’s not hard to see where Google is headed with YouTube Music, Company sources have indicated that the eventual plan is to migrate Google Play Music users to the new default app. This move, however, will not be a sudden one. Google is sure to give prior notice to the users before committing to such a big move.
One of YouTube Music’s biggest strengths is the depth of its music library. YouTube has an extensive catalog of music and video which includes official releases, live concert clips, mashups and fan covers which is all available for streaming. Then there are thousands of non-label musical tracks that you won’t find on rival apps like Spotify or Apple Music. True blue music lovers will love the possibilities and the wealth of new music waiting to be discovered.
The bitrate available with YouTube’ Music is up to 256 kbps. The app also comes with a data saver mode that can turn bring the bitrate down to 48 kbps for those that are concerned about data usage. Another wonderful feature of YouTube’s Music lies in its song search. Want to find out the song you just heard bits of? Simply type in the lyrics you remember and there’s a good chance you’ll find the song and artist name.
Everyone that would rather watch the official video instead of just listening to a song would love what YouTube Music has on offer. And while Google Play Music never challenged for the top of the music streaming apps ladder, YouTube’s already has a strong and loyal user base that is likely to carry over to YouTube Music, making it a much stronger contender than Google Play Music ever was.
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The homepage of YouTube Music looks similar to Spotify but the library layout and pretty much all else is quite different. YouTube Music doesn’t have dedicated desktop apps and the large thumbnails for artists/albums and video make the interface appear cluttered.
We mentioned YouTube Music having amazing possibilities as a place for discovering new music. The present version of the app, however, lacks the tools for the task. Spotify has perhaps the best music recommendations algorithm of a current lot of music streaming apps. Apple Music can also offer good recommendations if you’re careful to keep removing artists you no longer like in the ‘Find More Artists and Curators’ tab. But YouTube’s Music doesn’t have many playlists or collections based on moods or activities. This makes the music discovery tools seem average at best.
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer podcast support and an extensive library of podcasts on any topic you can think of. YouTube Music, on the other hand, doesn’t have podcast support – a noticeable void Google needs to fill in asap.
The free plan of YouTube Music comes with ads and requires you to keep the device screen on at all times. The ad-free YouTube Music Premium comes at $10 per month. At $12 per month, you can enjoy Premium’s ad-free music streaming experience and watch all of YouTube videos ad-free. The family subscription is priced at $15 per month and the student package costs $5 per month.
While the price of YouTube Music’s premium streaming is about the same as compared to Spotify and Apple Music, its free subscription falls short of matching the features of the rivals’ free subscriptions.
YouTube Music offers some cool features and a lot of promise, but it still has a long way to go before it can be considered serious competition to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. With a few improvements in design, recommendations feature, upgrades like podcast support and the ability to transfer personal libraries from Google Play Music, YouTube’s Music can start making its way up the ladder of music streaming supremacy.
Source – Gizmodo