Sunday, June 9, 2013

How Does iTunes work with Google Music? My Google Music Review

By now, I'm sure you've heard the hub-bub about Google Music's new streaming service. Google Music itself has been around a few years. I began using it to stream my own music on my phone about a year ago. But just recently, I began to discover how cool it really is.

Google Music the basics
First of all, it syncs with iTunes, and that's a huge plus because most people have their music there. All you do is download Google Music to your computer where your primary iTunes account is and it finds all your music. Now here's the really cool part. Each time I download something new from iTunes, it automatically syncs to Google Music for me! I found this out while I was streaming music from my phone to my car when a song that I downloaded from iTunes the day before started playing. I had no idea that it would already been on Google Music, but it was. All by itself! You can also buy music from Google Music directly. But iTunes isn't as friendly with syncing. You have to manually add a Google Music downloaded song to your iTunes, if you want to play the song on your iPod.

Access Your Music Everywhere
Another cool aspect of Google Music is that you can listen to it from any computer without having to download anything or sync anything. It's all in the cloud. With iTunes, you have to download iTunes, then grant access (if you have any devices left - you're allowed 5), then pull down your mucic through iCloud or do a home sharing setup, which requires both computers on the same network. But with Google Music, you just log in to Google and bam! your music is right there ready to go. If you have Android tablets and phones, just download the free app and you get the same access. (Not sure what Google plans for iOS, but I hear they're working on it)

All Access Subscription
I signed up early to get the $7 a month lower fee to try out the subscription service. It goes up to $10 at the end of June. So far, it's been pretty nifty. Like Pandora, if you type in an artist you like, Google will begin a playlist of suggested artists. However, that's where the similarity ends. Here are the super cool aspects of the Listen Now feature:

You type in an artist and click "play radio"

You get a playlist that includes that artist and those that Google thinks are similar artists:

So far, that sounds like Pandora or other apps. However, you can skip through the song, skip through the list as much as you want, and you can even save the playlist or edit the playlist. 

You can also create your own playlists by dragging and dropping. The whole interface is way simpler and more elegant that iTunes by far! The latest few updates have only made iTunes more complicated and confusing. (I shall elaborate about that in another post.)

These playlists are immediately available anywhere on Google Music. I picked up my phone right after creating these lists and bam! there they are! Ready to stream to my radio in the car!

Typcial widget
Google Music has the typical widget available to play music. But what I really appreciate is the "whats this song" widget. 
"what's this song" Widget in action
Tap the wishlist at the top

This works like Shazam - you tap it when you want to know the name of a song. But then you can tap it to open up the song in Google Music to buy it, if you choose. But what I love is that I can click "wish list" to add it to my wish list in Google Music. The reason I love this is because I often find good new music on the go and I want to remember it. It happens a lot in the car too, and this is a super fast way to add a song to a wish list for later. 

One final thought. Yes, when you stream, you're using the Internet or data or whatever the case may be depending on where you are. But this is the case with any streaming service whether it be Pandora, Spotify, Slacker or whomever. But, what's cool about Google Music is that you can pin songs or playlists, which adds them to your phone. Then you can play that music without data, because they're saved on your phone. You can also choose to unpin songs to move them back to the cloud. Frankly, songs always play smoothly for me while streaming, but I do live in a major metropolitan area.

I'm just getting used to using the subscription feature, but so far, I'm loving it. If you're a music lover like me, you'll enjoy the Listen Now feature of Google Music to continually discover new music.  Plus, I don't have to buy new songs, I simply save them to a playlist. For that feature alone, it's totally worth the 7 bucks a month! 

This looks like a winner for Google! Did I miss any key features? How are you using Google Music? What do you think of the free vs. paid aspects of the app?