Google is slowly but surely getting ready to shut down Play Music and transition everyone to its new streaming service, YouTube Music (YTM). The switch has been fraught with missteps and obstacles, but things are gradually improving and there's no stopping that train now that it's at full speed. One of many reasons to hold back has been the lack of Android TV support for YTM, but a solution is available now. It's just nearly useless.
A server-side change to the regular YouTube app on Android TV has brought in a new Music tab complete with YTM's logo. The tab offers a lot of your regular YouTube recommendations along with content clearly taken from your YTM:
- Music you like: includes "Your likes" (which isn't working for me now) and playlists by other users that you've subscribed to.
- Music for you: includes "Your mix," "Your likes," and the "Discover mix."
- Genre and mood stations for you: doesn't contain all the new moods and genres from the Android app, but has a decent personalized selection.
- Your music playlists: these are some of the playlists you've made. For me, at least, it doesn't show all my curated playlists.
- Artists stations for you: based on your listening habits and likes.
- Recommended playlists: algorithm-picked playlists you might enjoy.
Currently, the only neat feature in this entire integration is the instant playback that starts when you highlight a mix, playlist, or artist station. You don't have to press anything to start playing, it just does it automatically.
However, this integration is lacking many, many features:
- No background playback: The moment you switch out of the YouTube app, your music stops. So you're still better served by Chromecasting from the YTM Android app — at least that offers uninterrupted background music.
- No shuffle or repeat: You're bound to playing music in the order it was created, and when it's done, you have to manually restart it again.
- No audio/video toggle: Unlike the mobile YTM app, you never really know what media type you'll be served when you start playing, and that might be a big issue if you don't want to hog your network connection or get distracted by videos.
- No playlist management at all:
- If you select a playlist, it won't open to show you its content. Instead, it'll start with the first title and only offer the remaining ones in the carousel below, as YouTube usually does.
- You can't remove a song from a playlist or reorder titles.
- When you're playing a new track you like, you can't add it to your YTM playlists. The only playlists that show up in the save menu are your regular YouTube ones, not the YTM ones.
- You can't save new playlists. The only options available when playing are related to the current song, not the playlist as a whole.
- No full library access: If you were hoping to easily browse your entire library by playlist, album, song, or artist, this isn't it.
- No uploaded music: You can't access the songs and albums you've uploaded or migrated from Google Play Music.
- No synchronized lyrics: The feature has been live on the Android app for a couple of months, but is nowhere to be seen on Android TV.
As you can see, this is no real replacement to a proper YouTube Music application on Android TV, and I think Google is doing itself a disservice by continuing to mix our Music content and liked songs and artists with the regular video content and channel subscriptions. But let's not issue any fast judgements. This is still the first release and missing features might come later. The whole integration could also be a small bandaid to keep things rolling while a proper YTM app is being worked on.
To try this out for yourself, you don't need to do anything. The change happened server-side for almost everyone, but just in case, make sure you're on the latest YouTube for Android TV app version. You can grab it from APK Mirror.
- David Mason,
- José Ulisses