In a rare twist, Google was quick to update a changelog on the Play Store, and this one is definitely worth it. Some big improvements have been made to the Chromecast (Google Cast) support in the latest update to Play Music, including some stability improvements, gapless playback, and continuous playback after a caster leaves the area. On top of that, a look inside turned up evidence that Google may soon allow users to "gift" subscriptions to other people. If you just can't wait to get the goods, we've got a download link at the bottom.

What's New

It's highly unusual, but a changelog was posted right away with the release of the latest update.

v6.0.1995S

We’ve completely overhauled our Chromecast integration:

  • No more stoppage of playback in between songs
  • Gapless playback support now enabled over Cast
  • Music will continue playing even if your phone turns off or if you need to leave your amazing house party (brought to you by Unexpected Best Night Ever Radio†) to pick up additional supplies

†Listen for free in the US here: https://goo.gl/Km8TUq

Gapless Playback

Google Play Music has had a rough history with gapless playback. There was no sign of the feature when the service and app first launched. After many complaints, partial support for gapless playback appeared, but it was inconsistent across devices and required configuration changes to get it working correctly. Eventually, those bugs were ironed out, but gapless playback never made the transition to Google Cast support, until now. The latest update changes that for users as they stream to an Android TV or Chromecast.

Note: This is just gapless playback, which means tracks are supposed to be played in succession with absolutely no delay between the end of one and the beginning of the next. This does not perform any special manipulation to force songs to play seamlessly if they have silence recorded at the beginning or end of the track.

Continuous Playback After A Caster Leaves

Chromecast users will see another common complaint resolved with this update. The problem occurs when a casting device is turned off or leaves the area while it's running through a playlist – let's say the owner goes to the store for ice. The currently playing song will finish, and then playback stalls, even if there are more songs left in the playlist.

That behavior should be a thing of the past. Under the latest update, Chromecast gets a copy of the current playlist and it will continue playing through to the end. I tested this and found that not only does the music continue playing as it should, but when the casting device returned, it automatically re-synced with the Chromecast and restored the session so the Caster could pause, skip, or scrub freely.

Playback Stability

Rounding out the list of Chromecast-specific improvements, the changelog also claims there's a fix to a common problem that notoriously caused playback to stop in between songs. No reason for the issue was given, but it has been a regular complaint for quite a while and has been attributed to poor network conditions and devices with aggressive sleep policies. I wouldn't be surprised if this was fixed by storing the playlist for the continuous playback feature above.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced.

Play Music Subscription Gifting

If you read the title and thought it was a joke, or just didn't believe it was possible... Believe me, I know how you feel. Nevertheless, it's real. Three new strings and an item in the Settings screen (which is currently disabled) have been added and they spell it out as clearly as possible: we'll be able to "Give a Google Play Music subscription" to other people.

This is the only information available for now, so there's not enough to go on for a guess at how gifting subscriptions will work, but we'll keep an eye out for more as it comes along.

<PreferenceScreen android:title="@string/send_gift" android:key="@string/gift_subscription_setting_key" android:summary="@string/gift_subscription_setting_summary" />

<string name="gift_subscription_setting_key">gift_subscription_setting_key</string>
<string name="gift_subscription_setting_summary">Give a Google Play Music subscription</string>
<string name="send_gift">Send gift</string>

So, let me get this straight – we can't buy apps, books, movies, or even individual songs for other people, but we'll be able to give them a music subscription? Come on, Google, can you please just give us app gifting already?

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

File Name: com.google.android.music-6.0.1995S.2258080-1995-minAPI14.apk

Version: 6.0.1995S.2258080 (1995)