The early versions of Google Play Music earned a dubious reputation at launch for aggressively eating through cellular data in the name of providing the "highest quality" sound. After a few optimizations and an option to control audio quality on mobile connections, the situation got much better. However, being more responsible with cellular data alone wasn't very helpful to users with capped home Internet service or slow Wi-Fi. The latest update to the app aims to fix that with new settings to control audio quality when streaming over Wi-Fi or downloading music for offline playback.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- Quality selector for Wi-Fi streaming and downloading
- A new "Always High" option in the quality selector for mobile and Wi-Fi streaming
The new quality selectors can be found under the Playback section of the Settings screen. First appearing in a teardown of the Play Music app back in December, they operate just like the option for mobile networks, allowing users to minimize data usage on Wi-Fi networks and when downloading tracks. Unfortunately, it's still not clear how much each of these options will save in data. It's not like Google couldn't give a ballpark estimate.
A fourth option has also been added to the mobile and Wi-Fi streaming quality selectors. Titled "Always High," this one will stick firmly to the highest possible quality, even if it might result in buffering. Lower settings will still attempt to play without buffering and scale down audio quality as necessary.
In addition to saving on data usage, the quality selector for offline downloads will also save on storage space on your phone, at least for those that don't mind dropping below the high setting. This might help some people reclaim a little space for photos and apps.
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.