13
Jun
unnamed

After a long period of neglect, Google recently started sprucing up its music app. It's getting to be quite a respectable experience with a snazzy card-based UI and Google Play All Access built-in. The new update still makes some long overdue improvements, but that's how we feel every time.

1 2

6 4 5

Anyone who has waited for hours while Google Play Music caches songs will be happy to hear the highlight of this update is faster downloading. The app also includes new settings for managing mobile data usage and improved search. Here's the full list of changes:

  • Keeping music on device now much faster
  • New setting for mobile network bandwidth usage
  • Search quality improvements
  • Reduced data usage overall

6 7 8

The update appears to be a staged rollout, but it should reach you before long. Take a look, and remember that you've still got time to get in on that $7.99 per month deal on All Access.

[Update] Here is the APK you can install manually if you don't want to wait (thanks, Ilya!):

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • Matt

    Since this is gonna be another staged rollout, APK please?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Sure we need the APK first, if anyone gets it, let us know!

      • YALE LAWYER

        Just got it. How do I pull the APK?

      • http://profiles.google.com/geoffreyzub Geoffrey S. Zub

        Ron, how about doing a story on the fact that the staged roll-outs could increase the amount on malware as people are sideloading apks when people post them in the comments and they could be malicious... They really need to just let those who are interested get them and the rest of the users should be part of the staged rollouts...

        • Tony

          I was thinking the same thing, google should add some kind of power user somewhat hidden way to update the app forcefully.

          • Alec Winograd

            The point of staged rollouts is that not everyone gets the app at the same time (in case there are regressions or new issues). Plus, people can enable auto-updating to get the app when available.

        • Alec Winograd

          The number of people like us who will even read that there's a new version (let alone want to sideload it) before it shows up in Google Play has to be tiny.

        • Andy Stetson

          That's why apk packages are signed. If the one you go to install has been modified in any way, the app will have to be signed to be installed. If this happens and el Goog didn't sign it, the app will throw up an error, and that will be your first clue. GRANTED, this doesn't stop someone working for goog to steal the signature, or in case it gets cloned/defeated.

          • http://profiles.google.com/geoffreyzub Geoffrey S. Zub

            But they could quite easily have a different package name/signature which simply is something slightly different, like com.google.play.music and "Google Music" instead of com.google.android.music and "Google Play Music" and many of us would never spot it until it is too late and harm could have already been done. It would not even have to have an icon installed in the launcher.

          • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

            Verifying upon install keeps that from happening. Also, regardless of installation type one has to click "install" after it pops up asking for permission, with the application name, etc. So there's literally no way that what you're saying could happen. I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to help you understand.

          • it could happen

            It could happen. Have you seen the number of permissions the average Google app requests? you could write an app with a million permissions, a very slightly modified name, same icon, and it wouldn't be suspicious at first glance. Also, the installation wouldn't fail because it's a different app, so no google signature = no problem. Also, no google verification because app is new and unknown.

          • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

            That would be user error, since everything about the app would be viewable upon installation.

          • Andy Stetson

            That's why you make sure you have the play store version of and then install the app from . When you go to install that app, Android asks you if you want to replace an existing app with it. If you don't get that error, hit cancel on the install.

        • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

          There is little to no chance of this. Signed APK's from Google are what people are distributing, which your device can verify. Point to a documented instance of "malware" being pushed into a Google APK. I don't think it's ever happened.

          • http://profiles.google.com/geoffreyzub Geoffrey S. Zub

            It doesn't have to be - see my comment to Andy Stetson, it could just be a variation on the package name and app name and likely no one would notice they installed a new app. It would just be exploiting the fact that we don't always read what is presented in front of us and have an almost automatic response to the app install dialogs.

          • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

            If you don't read what's in front of you, that's user error. EVERY app upon installation shows basic information about the app, as well as permissions needed. Shouldn't be any reason to install "malware" as you suggest.

          • http://profiles.google.com/geoffreyzub Geoffrey S. Zub

            But there was less of a chance of this "user error" happening when they did not do stages roll outs. So what I was trying to say is that staged rollouts increase the likelihood of someone installing malware. Currently Google does have a way of checking suspicious apk's that are side-loaded, but I think it is an after-the-fact check, only if Google has flagged a particular apk will it stop you. What they should do is have a way to verify the signature is from the vendor you expect, I would assume all of the certs are issued by authorities and it would be relatively simple to have a button for users to click on which shows them the information for the certificate owner.

      • Jason Pillow

        Just got it. What service is the best to share it?

        • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

          Post it in Google Drive, just make sure the link is public.

        • Matt

          Dropbox public folders seems to be the standard now. Or Google Drive. Either works.

          • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

            Dropbox caps the downloads to a certain number.

          • Matt

            Really? I had no idea. Is it an overall bandwidth limit or specifically a number of downloads?

          • http://addisontodd.com/ Addison Todd

            I'm not sure. I think it might be a bandwidth thing? I've never seen Google Drive cap anything, though. Just make sure it's marked public, and that should work.

    • nebula
  • Fiorta

    Hopefully they changed the Artists page to actually reflect the proper picture of the Artist. There are so many that are off in My Library.

    • Insp_Gadget

      All of mine are correct.

      • Nasko Hristov

        Even the uploaded?

        • Insp_Gadget

          Especially my uploaded. I made sure all my album art is embedded in the MP3s that I ripped from my CDs. I never left that to chance.

          • Nasko Hristov

            We are talking about the page Artists, where some artist have pretty good pictures, but some don't even with name spelled correctly.

          • Insp_Gadget

            I haven't seen that problem. I'll pay closer attention next time I use the app and see if I notice what you're talking about.

          • Insp_Gadget

            @Fiorta @Nasko Hristov Okay, I've done some closer examination. You're referring to the "Artists" tab of the "My Library" section where Play Music displays the name and various images of the artists (not album covers). This is done every time the app refreshes/polls the music you're playing. If these images and the spelling you refer to are in error, then you actually need to blame the metadata embedded in the MP3 you uploaded to Google Play.

            Anything under the Artist tab is referenced by the Artist tag in the MP3's metadata, so if that tag information is misspelled or uses the album's name instead of the individual artist, then the results will be off, and it will display whatever you've got in the "Artist" tag in the file. If that happens to be the name of the album instead of the artist's name, then it will attempt to show the album cover instead of the artist.

            Further, the pictures that Google Play Music retrieves are essentially from doing an image search via Google Images. You'll sometimes get recent photos of how the artist looks now instead of how they looked 20 years ago when they published the album; but in any case, if the metadata embedded in the MP3 is misspelled or otherwise incorrect, the results will suffer.

            If you want to fix the issue you're seeing with some of the artist photos being wrong, you need to clean up your MP3 files. Use a tag editor and correct the misspellings. Put the correct artist name in the proper tag and make sure that all of the appropriate tags are filled in correctly: Album, Artist, Publication Date, Album Artist, Genre, Disk#, Track#, etc. This data is important for identifying the track and showing the correct images.

    • bprichard

      Mine are almost too correct. Have you ever seen BT's hair? It's not a pleasant experience. It doesn't seem to have art for quite a few of mine, even those available for sale on Play.

  • Erock

    And please update the widget to something transparent

    • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

      Check out Media utilities or make your own with widgetsoid until they do.

      • Erock

        thanks, i'll give these a try. been using double twist in the mean time. Like there lock screen functionality

  • Amblin

    Does this still run in the background all the time?

  • Greyhame

    I wish they would increase the size of the menu button present on each song. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to press it queue something, but had the song play immediately and interrupt both the currently playing song AND the queue list I had started.

    • Sean Thomas

      thats really frustrating. a pixel too far to the left and the whole queue you built is wiped out.

      • Greyhame

        Exactly. They could also adapt the queue to append the song you play to its end, so it wouldn't vanish when this happens.

        • Sean Thomas

          I'd say to the top. That way it still starts playing when you click but the queue still comes after it.

  • Kaushal

    Does AP get the update very first among all in ALL the staged roll outs because it's an Android related website? Or do you guys happen to have 100s of Google accounts? :)

    • Sean Thomas

      you can see the updated description for an app even if it's not rolled out to you yet. I imagine they get tipped off or something

      • Kaushal

        I thought about it as soon as I posted. I guess they can even have some scripts curling these app pages which would display the last update date in a spreadsheet or trigger notification IFTTT style.

  • Tony

    Did they stop the album art from moving around in the background when playing a song? Irks me so much, oh that and not having a button for Shuffle on playlists, you have to hit menu button then shuffle!

    • Nasko Hristov

      About shuffle, they want you to use te-not-so-bad "instant mixes". Also, I like the moving albumart, except for some old song with lower resolution on my tablet, so maybe the best is to make an option for that.

    • Nate Muench (Mink)

      I don't think they stop showing the art work moving around in the background. However, I wish they would give the option to pick how the artwork is displayed when a song is playing

    • bprichard

      Awww, I love the album art moving around. I find it to be a tasteful and understated effect.

      • Matthew Fry

        Tasteful, I guess, but you never actually see it entirely as it's always way too large for the screen. I don't mind it I just wish they'd change the size of the art so it is at least sometimes full visible.

    • Nathaniel Tolbert

      Tonyb have you found a solution to this problem

  • Nasko Hristov

    At last, I had to wait a whole night to download 100 songs to my phone, this was outrageous. Well done, Google, well done.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    APK now in the post.

  • dark_funk

    Very nice! It'd be good to get an actual number for the low-normal-high stream quality bit rates, but yes, this is a potentially massive improvement.

    Also, new the Soilwork album is sick.

  • spamlucal

    Shuffle is still broken, from my point of view, at least.

    Since when, with an empty queue and shuffle previously on, selecting a song in the middle of a playlist means that only songs below the one you select are going to be shuffled and the ones that are above simply won't ever play?

    Same happens if you tap shuffle when listening to any playlist, only remaining songs in the queue will be shuffled and played.

    Also, when you disable shuffle, the queue won't revert to the original order either. This whole shuffle behavior is very annoying.

    • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

      Yea I don't know how they can't get shuffle sorted out. I miss 2 features from my original Ipod Nano/Touch's and thats the alphabetical list to jump to bottom/certain letter and the shuffle working properly.

  • Kevin Aaronson

    Anybody know where the damnable equalizer went?!

    • Haunter

      Settings>Equalizer

      • Kevin Aaronson

        Can't find it. Its not under settings.

        • Haunter

          Whoa... that's weird. Mine says "Equalizer" right under the All Access subscription part. o_O

    • Arturo

      What phone do yo have? I have an HTC One and have the same problem

      • Kevin Aaronson

        Galaxy s3

  • Qliphah

    By fixing data usage does that mean Play Music won't kill my phone by downloading almost a gig (from what I assume was just the streaming radio feature) and not clearing it?

    • brnpttmn

      Do you have the "cache during playback" enabled?

      • Qliphah

        That was the problem, but I didn't expect it to cache a days worth of audio all at once. Unfortunately the update didn't do anything about it and though my phone isn't bursting with room I do try to keep 30% (or about 2Gb) free at all times. I imagine it's an issue on a lot of devices.

  • Rob Caldecott

    The Bass boost and 3D effect equaliser settings are disabled on my Nexus 4 with this release. Bug?

  • El Marko

    How odd. I downloaded the APK but can press the "Install" button until pigs sprout wings, with no response on my HTC One. "Cancel" button works real good, though. . . 'Guess I have to wait for the upgrade to come via the Play Store. . .

  • Bleakvision

    I wonder why this app is still the only one in which you can't scan the artist names by the first letter. It is the same scrollbar as the people app, so it seems they removed it. Why in the world would they do that?

  • KK

    Anyone know if this will stop it from constantly starting up on it's own in the background?

  • firethorn

    I just wish Play Music didn't taunt me with All Access every time it's updated. Since I'm not in the US I can't get in anyway, so why offer the deal in the first place?

  • Brian Ferris

    Interestingly, got this version some time ago here on my HTC One in the UK.. I noticed how much faster the downloads were.

  • begadkepat

    Has anyone come up with a really good solution to reconciling Google Music use with a lot of ROM swapping? Or even, like, not a lot? I'm interested in Google Music All Access but I figure if I do that I might as well refresh my online music storage with what I've got offline at the same time. But I like to experiment with ROMs as well, and that uses up authorizations/deauthorizations pretty fast, especially when you consider more than one device.

    Can anyone confirm that using Helium, say (I really don't like Titanium Backup), retains one's device authorization and doesn't simply use up another?

    • begadkepat

      Never mind. I know what to do now (simple SQL to change the android_id)

  • valkyrie743

    soilwork = amazing

  • valapsp

    Still doesn't show the artist cover up top.

  • Matthew Fry

    I've never used a music streaming service (other than Lala) but I'm pretty impressed with All Access. There are things Google does that are not impressive (like customer service) but they did a pretty good job on getting a suitably large catalog. Getting charged today for my first paid month and I'm diggin it.