Google Play Music is Getting a Major Refresh

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos with 25 Comments

Google Play Music is Getting a Major Refresh

This week, Google Play Music for Android, iOS and the web is getting a major refresh, with a new user experience and new personalization capabilities.

“Today we’re introducing the new Google Play Music, a fresh take on our music streaming service that is smarter, easier to use, and much more assistive,” Google Play Music lead product manager Elias Roman writes in a new post to the Official Google Blog. “Google builds tools that help you make the world of information more accessible and useful. And at Google Play Music, we strive for the same.”

Since Google Play Music is one of three music services I’m currently paying for some reason—the other two are Microsoft Groove and Spotify—I’m curious to see how the changes impact the experience. Today, Google Play Music offers a straightforward if pedestrian design. But from the screenshots Google has provided, it looks like the new version more closely resembles Apple Music and Spotify now.

Or, as Google puts it, Google Play Music now “has a brand new home screen built just for you.” The bigger deal, apparently, is that Google is using machine learning to improve the experience. It figures out the music you like and then “mixes in signals” like location, activity, and the weather and matches them with the perfect playlists.

“We’ll deliver personalized music based on where you are and why you are listening — relaxing at home, powering through at work, commuting, flying, exploring new cities, heading out on the town, and everything in between,” Roman explains. “Your workout music is front and center as you walk into the gym, a sunset soundtrack appears just as the sky goes pink, and tunes for focusing turn up at the library.” (Yes, it’s opt-in, and you will need a Google Play Music subscription for any of this to really make sense.)

This personalization extends to your offline experiences too, apparently: Google Play Music will automatically download an offline playlist that is based on what you like most so you always have something to listen to.

So … we’ll see. I like Google Play Music as it stands right now. But I could see these changes being as disconcerting as they are useful.


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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Google Play Music is Getting a Major Refresh”

  1. 5510

    This is my go to service for music. Not only does Google Play Music serves the highest bitrate of music, but the family plan is awesome. It is so good, that I forfeited my early adopters rate of $7.99 to subscribe to the family plan, just so all the members of my family can enjoy it.

    IMO, this service is only going to get stronger and is a huge part of any Google user's "smart" ecosystem.

    • 907

      In reply to Bats:

      Imagine the Google Universal Platform once Android apps are correctly integrated into ChromeOS! Dominant Mobile and Tablet usage along with a new and growing desktop experience. Unlike MS this will be a true Universal Platform. MS have cut their own throats with their neglect in Mobile! Come on MS, you need to act before it's too late!

  2. 217

    I still insist this is the best music service available, because for $15 (5 family members) we get the music service plus ad-free YouTube and YouTube Music - it's a great triple-headed service. 

  3. 6014

    I like Google Play Music, but I can't think of a way of serving music that is less in step with what I want out of a music service that the AI-assisted suggestions that they're discussing.  Maybe I'm just an unhip oldster at heart with weird taste in music, but I don't anticipate any way that Google will be able to predict what I want to listen to and when. 

    Microsoft, give me an updated Groove client and a family subscription and I would sign up.  Seriously.

  4. monicastewart

    I like Google play music app to download free music . this app is great to download music. best music app. thanks

  5. 2175

    I signed up for Google Play Music a day ago. I like the visual search feature (Groove on windows phone 8.1, aka Xbox Music, only served up text based results). YouTube Red is a bonus. With no download client for youtube, red was the only option for me. The convenience of downloading my fave videos at work, and watching them offline at home, is a blessing

    What I don't like so far: you can't download an individual song to your phone. Presumably you can IF you BUY the song. But with just the subscription, you have to download the entire album that the song belongs to. I never enjoy the entire catalog of songs from ANY artist. But that aside, the Google Play subscription is worth it for me

  6. 279

    This is currently the Best music value out there. 


  7. 7063

    I would just settle for having the app display my Playlists page when it first launches instead of the "Listen Now" page.  That would be a bigger improvement than anything else I think.

  8. 1139

    Haha. Paul, I feel you on the "for some reason." I have Groove and Google Music, but Google Music gets me YouTube Red and I have the beta rate, so I guess that's good.

    I may have to check it out when my Pixel arrives. If it arrives. FedEx is horrible. But I use Groove on all my Windows 10 PCs Xbox One, so I doubt I'll switch.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • 907

      In reply to Vuppe:

      For me it's a no brainer. Youtube Red which includes Google Play Music is an excellent deal! Why would anyone use something else unless emotionally invested into another ecosystem? 

  9. 6067

    I switched from Groove to Google Play Music because of their family plan... $15/month for my account and up to 5 family members is fantastic!

    • 6447

      In reply to jjaegers:

      spotify and apple have similar family plans. The real value over the others comes in the form of youtube red/music (ad free, offline, and screen off playback) and especially in the context of a whole family with a lot of youtube users. That's why this is a no brainer to me. Some people just don't care about that over certain features that Spotify has, apparently, and or they just choose that because its the trendy default name brand currently.

      • 2175

        In reply to Bill_Russell:

        Offline YouTube clips - that is a fantastic feature. I used to use Metrotube on Windows Phone because it was a great app, and it let me download YouTube videos for offline viewing. Since moving to Android I've realized that NO apps let you do this

        Plus the family plan is far better value than Microsoft Groove

    • 907

      In reply to jjaegers:

      People have been complaining to MS in regards to a family plan for some time now. MS has done nothing! We keep hearing how this new MS is agile yet to me they still move about as fast as the Queen Mary! MS, get off your arse! Your users want a family something!

  10. 412

    Like Paul, "for some reason", I pay for 3 services: Google Music, Groove and Amazon Unlimited. All 3 have their merrits but since my mobile word is Android and home has Echo's, I tend to me more Google and Amazon. I MAY let my Groove expire this April. I do like it's desktop app and XBOX app but just kind of hard maintaining 3 services. 

    • 1792

      In reply to wolters:

      This is the problem with Microsoft's retreat from mobile. Now people have Android phones the Google services become more of a logical extension.

      • 218

        In reply to ponsaelius:

        I have both Groove and Amazon via my Prime account.  I primarily use Groove on all my Windows devices, as well as on my Galaxy Note 5.  My only complaint is that the Android version of Shazam doesn't have a link for Groove like it did on my Nokia 1520.

      • 314

        In reply to ponsaelius:

        Your Xbox Live Membership should include Groove as free parking. As it stands, Groove offers nothing over competing services.

  11. 165

    Doesn't work on windows?

  12. Rachel Marie

    music marketing companies don't really promote google play links like itunes.

  13. 5530

    Sure looks like they did a good job of ripping off Spotify's colour scheme.