Friday, 17 June 2011

Google Music Beta - I've Finally Got An Invite!

I opened my emails this morning to find that I'd finally been given an invite to the beta of Google Music. I've previously installed the .apk file for the app on my HTC Desire but it's not much use beyond a simple music player without the invite for the cloud streaming behind it. That's changed now, so I'm going to let you know what I think to it now. I know that this is something that has been available for US users for a while but it's only just begun to spread over here to Europe so for me it's something new to investigate.

Signing in and accepting the terms of use for Music Beta was easy and I was impressed to see that I was offered quite a lot of free music. This is all stored in my Music account for me so that I can try streaming I suppose. Suprisingly, the music wasn't too bad. I was offered some Herbie Hancock, Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, a few Jeff Buckley tracks, some Jimmy Cliff, lots of music actually. Having quite a broad musical taste, I'm quite happy to take them all. Thanks Google!

Playing back the music is as easy as playing locally stored music. You can choose to have the player show you only locally stored music or you can also browse your online tracks. Locally stored music plays instantly, as you'd expect. Music stored in the cloud takes a few seconds to begin as you'd expect while it buffers but the music you are given for free seems to be of a high quality. The app downloads and caches the music on the micro SD card or streaming it, dependant on your choices made in the settings. Other than the slight pause before playing the cloud stored tracks, you wouldn't really notice any differences when playing back and the whole experience is really quite seamless.

The only minor complaint that I have with Google Music is that there isn't a Linux version of the desktop app that allows you to upload your music to the cloud. Windows and Mac versions are available though. Picasa runs using Wine, so I'm sure that along the way somebody will work out a way to got this running on Linux even if it's not doing so natively. I've used Spotify in the past and that runs very well under Wine so I've got hopes for this yet. Still, it would be nice to be able to simply point the browser at a folder and upload a few tracks. I suppose I'll have to use a virtual machine for my uploading of music because none of my computers runs Windows or OS X.

The interface for Google Music on the web.

Minor gripes about Linux friendliness aside, this is a great app and leaves me feeling that Apple's iCloud experience will have to be something great to beat the user-friendliness of the Google Music Beta.


  1. Isn't apple trying to do something similar?

  2. I think they are doing something similar, iTunes Match and iCloud I think. Here's a link to check out:

    I don't use iTunes though so it's not for me.