An update to Google Play Music began rolling out earlier this week, but there aren't any signs of changes in the UI. However, a couple of interesting things did turn up during a teardown. We can look forward to new settings to control audio quality for each of the major situations for downloading music. Additionally, there will be an option to allow the app to begin playing music as soon as it launches. If you're eager to grab the latest version before it comes to your device naturally, there's a download link at the bottom.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Select quality levels for everything
Everybody gets access to the Internet through different means. Some people enjoy the luxury of (arguably) uncapped, high-speed data to our homes and low-cost data plans with perfect LTE coverage. Others have to make due with only slow, expensive cellular service, large dead zones, and crippling data caps. Shoddy network connections and pricy data rates are the bane of music streaming services. Play Music is about to give users a few more options to control audio quality based on their situations.
Currently, there's a single setting to control streaming quality, but it only applies to mobile networks (i.e. cellular). Two new options are about to join it, allowing users to also control the quality level for music streaming over Wi-Fi connections and music downloaded for offline listening. These can be used to cut down on data usage, maintain streaming without caching, and consume more or less storage space on a device.
<string name="stream_quality_for_wifi_title">Quality on wifi network</string>
<string name="stream_quality_for_mobile_title">Quality on mobile network</string>
<string name="stream_quality_always_high">Always High</string>
<string name="stream_quality_always_high_description">High quality in all network conditions
May buffer on slow networks</string>
<string name="download_quality_title">Download quality</string>
<string name="download_quality_high_description">Higher quality uses more storage</string>
<string name="download_quality_low_description">Lower quality uses less storage</string>
<PreferenceScreen android:title="@string/stream_quality_for_mobile_title" android:key="@string/stream_quality_for_mobile_key" android:summary="@string/stream_quality_normal" android:dependency="@string/stream_only_on_wifi_key" />
<PreferenceScreen android:title="@string/stream_quality_for_wifi_title" android:key="@string/stream_quality_for_wifi_key" android:summary="@string/stream_quality_normal" />
<PreferenceScreen android:title="@string/download_quality_title" android:key="@string/download_quality_key" android:summary="@string/stream_quality_normal" />
Play Music will also attempt to scale quality up or down based on network conditions, but there is going to be an option to have it at "Always High" quality, even if that means the stream will have to buffer during playback.
Autoplay on start
Taking a turn toward really active listeners, there's another option coming to the Settings screen, and this one will instruct Play Music to automatically begin playing music when the app launches.
<string name="pb_opt_out_summary">Automatically start music when you open the app</string>
I assume this feature will be useful for people that regularly want to start some music with as little direct interaction with the screen as possible. For example, a gesture-based app launcher, NFC tag, or some other mechanism could be set up to launch Play Music while in the car – it might not be completely hands free, but it would eliminate the need to look at the screen.
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.
Version: 7.1.4118-1.K.3559144 (41181)