For the past week or so, I’ve been gleefully enjoying and painfully hating Google’s answer to the iPod (or Pandora at the very least). A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a call with “the best news ever.” What followed was a long conversation about Google Music’s amazing interface and how the program allowed anyone with an iTunes to essential have an iPod for free. Google Music allows users to load their library online, then users can access their library from any computer or mobile device. So of course I flew to my computer, and since I’ve been iPodless for essentially three years, I was pretty excited.
With Apple, Amazon and pretty much everyone else competing for cloud technology supremacy, I decided to give Google Music a try for a few reasons. First, I own an android, so the programs works with my phone flawlessly (most of the time.) Second, it’s free—that’s pretty nice. So it’s been a long couple days, but I finally have a grasp of the programs strengths and weaknesses.
It’s free for everyone through Google, and for android users the app is free as well. Although it might seem like a small consideration, once you see the design and layout of the program, the price becomes more and more impressive.
The program has a 20,000 song maximum, approximately 100 gigs. Although the most avid of music listeners might have their libraries truncated, for most, 20, 000 is more than enough. If you find that you need more space, an important thing to keep in mind is that Google only has a maximum of 20,000 files. That mean’s if you had 20,000 songs that were 3 hours long, you wouldn’t pass the maximum.
Although as not heavily designed as iTunes, Google Music get an A+ in presentation. For coming out of beta, the program runs pretty flawlessly, navigation is relatively simple and it also displays album art (if you are like me, and labored for hours to putting art with each song).
The app for the program is equally impressive. The user is easily able to search by artist, album, song, playlist, genre and even recently played. Both horizontal and vertical orientation are impressive, and are completely different from each other. They’re not just rehashing the same design.
At least in relation to the online version, there is no difference in quality between iTunes and Google Music (both are vastly superior to Pandora). I’ve listened back and forth between both programs, the quality sounds exactly the same. I might not have as an attuned ear as other audiophiles, but for me the difference is negligible.
Remember the “painful hatred” I mentioned earlier? Uploading is 95 percent responsible. Although I’m not nearly as tech-savvy as Google’s programmers, there has got to be an easier way to upload music. Google sets up a confusing labyrinth for the user to stumble though.
First the user has to download a music manager. Simple enough. But when trying to upload your entire library (presumably from iTunes) its start with the user’s recently played list than continues through his or her other playlists. The result is having 400 bands with one song. For any music listener who likes some semblance of order to music collection, this is a nightmare.
There is an option that allows you to upload one band (or folder) at a time. This option should definitely become the default setting.
If you’re reading this article and thinking you can’t wait to try Google Music, make sure you understand that you won’t be able to truly enjoy the program for at least a week. Loading songs onto Google Music is painstakingly slow.
To give you just a glimpse of what I’m talking about, I’ve been uploading songs for a week straight (alphabetically of course), and I’m only at PJ Harvey, which is around 6,000 songs.
The Sound (mobile)
As I mentioned earlier, the sound on Google Music is pretty impressive, but on a mobile device it’s a different story. The songs still sound as good as they do online, however lagging plagues the playability. Even with unlimited data and the fastest Internet available. There will be times when the songs will sound choppy and robotic. So in that aspect, the iPod is superior. I guess nothing is truly free.
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