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Google Play Music All Access hands-on: I just canceled my Spotify subscription

News by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday May 15, 2013.

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Google Play Music has been in competition with Spotify and Pandora to attract music streaming customers, but it has had a disadvantage of ease of use and completion. Spotify has millions of songs and constantly adds more, and Pandora is scarily accurate at playlist curation. Play Music had the advantage of creating the completely personal library of a user's existing digital music collection and acquiring new content with each new purchase, but it lacked the immediate bucket pricing of Spotify and a radio that makes Pandora so enjoyable. With today's release of Google Play Music, that's no longer the case.

I recently canceled my Spotify subscription because I grew tired of discovering that songs I want to hear at a specific moment were unavailable. Despite millions of tracks in Spotify, the small holes in selection grew too annoying. With Google Music All Access, there are plenty of holes because it isn't any better at having an all-inclusive library, but it at least has the potential for growth. I can plug those holes by uploading my own music library. The personal cloud media jukebox is now a cloud radio station that I can control. Millions of songs are available from Google's deals with record labels, and my personal collection fulfills my needs for the thousands of songs that are not.

Play Music has a cleaner interface that turns the old dark colors into one focused on a light background, slim text, and orange accents. I don't like that accessing the side navigation menu isn't accessible with one button on every screen, so the overhaul isn't everything that someone could hope to see. However, I do like that the app is now smarter and capable of doing much more. The Listen Now and Radio sections can create a smart playlist and find songs based on my past listening habits, My Library provides access to the on-demand songs that I want to hear, Playlists keep me entertained for certain moods, and Explore has recommendations for new artists, albums, and songs.

All Access delivers across-the-board listening options that make this far better than the original Play Music app. It's missing the discovery options possible when seeing what friends are playing, which is one area that Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora all do better. That might be enough to sway someone from switching, especially for non-Android users. Play is trapped in the confines of Android and the web, so it's worthless to iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users unless they are willing to deal with incomplete third-party apps. Those troubles aside, Android users who trust algorithms and their own personal taste, Play Music All Access is a welcome change of pace.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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