Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Google Music

It’s been a while since I posted.  I was hoping to post a new fiction story, but I’m not coming up with anything; so, I’ll just post my initial experiences with the new Google Music.

Initial exposure

In case you don’t know, Google Music is a system where you upload your music to their servers and you can listen to it streaming anywhere you have an Internet connection.  That’s the first thing I ever heard about it.  I thought cool, it’s like Dropbox but for music.  This could solve my problem I have with my phone.  I use it’s Blue Tooth to stream music to my stereo in the car, but there isn’t enough space on my phone for all my music.  Amazon has a service that’s similar, but I didn’t hear about it until after I heard about Google’s and since I use Google for everything else I figured I’d just stick with it.

The second time I ever heard of it was on a Techdirt article about how Google started the service without the RIAA’s blessing after failed negotiations.  The labels were demanding far too much money for a service that only lets you to play your own music that you upload; it doesn’t even let you share it.  The RIAA was basically asking for money from something just shy of an iPod.  The service is perfectly legal and Google had no obligation to give the RIAA anything.  So, the RIAA demanding too much was them literally demanding too much free money.

After I heard that I instantly requested to join the Beta.  I got the invite yesterday.

Warning:  Before anyone asks, Google is not letting the users invite other people.  If you find a website that says they have invites and are willing to give them out, it’s a scam; don’t give them anything.  The only place you can request an invite is music.google.com.  Which is a shame, I was going to offer mine up here.



First Setup

My first setup was on my Windows 7 laptop (sorry, I have no pictures).  I clicked on the link that was provided in the E-Mail and it took me to the Google music website.  I’m always logged into Google, so I would assume that I would have to log in otherwise.  The first thing it asks is “Do you agree to the terms of use”.  I’ll admit, I had so much trouble reading that.  It’s so technical and refers to so many other documents that are much longer.  A peace of advice for anyone who may be writing a terms of use; make it simple so that everyone can understand.  These things will not be upholdable in court if they cannot be understood by those of above average intelligence.


The second thing it asks is what kind of music I liked.  It gave the standard genres; Rock, Indi, that kind of thing.  The awesome thing about this part is that it adds free music to your library based on your choices.

The last step is to setup the Google music manager.  It’s a program you install on your computer and point it to a folder where it will upload your music from.  It starts standard, asking for username and password; then goes on to ask where you want to pull your music from.  It’s basic options are from iTunes, Windows Media Player, and the My Music folder.  The advanced setting lets me choose what folder(s) I want it to look at.  Since I despise anything Apple now a days and refuse to use most of the Windows default things, I chose to point it to an empty folder.  This way I can copy only the music I want to show up (I need to clean the crap out of my music folder).

This is where my first problem arose, the buttons to add and remove folders were hidden behind the bottom of the window.  I could still click them, but only the top 5 pixels.  Small problem, it didn’t stop me.


It's worse in Server 2008

I had already installed the Google Music app on my Android tablet and phone.  All I needed to do was go into settings and tell it to use my Google account and it did the rest.

Initial impressions

The first thing I was shown was the new and recent section.  It was simple and user friendly, it showed a small selection of the albums that were just added to my collections.  I hadn’t added anything myself yet, but it had 151 songs.  Yes, you heard me; they added 151 free songs to my collection.


This is after I uploaded some music

I spent the next two hours going threw the music and deciding if I wanted to keep it or delete it.  Some I knew and instantly kept (System of a Down), some I knew and instantly deleted (Jessica Simpson).  Others I had to listen to and give a chance.  I noticed quickly that I could thumb up and thumb down songs.  I don’t know the purpose for those yet; maybe for a suggested purchase thing latter on.  It also gave me options to purchase more from a band since it only gave me one or two songs from an album.

A little latter I started playing with uploading my own music.  The music manager program was designed with crappy Internet connections in mind.  You can tell it to upload vary slowly or as fast as possible; you can tell it to upload at a specific time, any time, or manually.

Yes, I keep removing my E-Mail address

The web interface to play the music is fairly simple, though that’s a good thing.  You can choose to view your library by what was recently uploaded, songs, artists, albums, and genres.  From there it’s just like digging down a file structure.  Pick the artist, then album, then song for example.  You can pick from three default playlists; Thumbed up, Recently added, and Free songs; or you can create a new playlist.  You can also create a playlist by using the “instant mix” function.  Google will look at the song you selected a create a playlist based off of music like it.  It’s almost like Genius from iTunes, but you don’t have to select all the songs, Google does it for you.  I haven’t had a chance to play with it; I don’t think I have enough songs.

There’s also an offline mode for songs where it will download the songs to be played without Internet connection.  Good for those with the space.

The settings are kinda tucked away up at the top.  I didn’t even realize that was the settings for Google Music, I thought it was the settings for my entire Google account.  The settings section will show you how many songs you have, if you want E-Mail updates, a button to report a problem (or suggestion), a button to withdraw from the Beta, and what devices are attached to the account (and how to remove them).  Reporting a problem is simple; I already reported the add folder bug and intend on suggesting a delete function for the tablet and phone apps.
Imagine a few Star Wars references as the computer names

The phone interface is a simplified version of the web interface without the settings section.

The tablet interface is a fancy version of the web interface (it’s 3D).

Problems

The main one I see is with streaming to my phone.  If I have crappy single (common problem with T-Mobile in my building) the songs end abruptly and go to the next one.  While I was using it on my WiFi connection, it worked almost like all the songs were local.  This isn’t a problem for things like Pandora so maybe it’s just a small thing and will be fixed with future streaming upgrades (or our building’s Faraday cage was completed).

You can’t share songs.  There is no social functions at all.  I know why this is (RIAA), but it’s still a glaring absence.  You can’t send a song to your friends with a message that says “OMG!!! U got to check this out” (OK, I can’t talk in TXT).  Why the RIAA thinks this is a bad thing, I’ll never know.  This is something that Google wants to add, and would have but for the RIAA.

For those with large music collections and ISPs that think 5G is enough for anyone, watch your uploads (and complain to your ISP).  20,000 songs (max in bata) with an average of 5M a peace is just shy of 100G.

It’s only available in the US.  I’m sure that’s due to them wanting a relatively small test group.  Google, you’re not paying the recording industries anything; when it’s time, release it to everyone.

Conclusion

As long as Google keeps adding features and working on the bugs (as they always do), I see no reason to go back.  This has a lot of potential and solves the space issues I have with my phone.  If this becomes a pay service after beta (probably will) I’ll be paying for it.

Update 5/23/11

That graphical glitch that I commented on and entered a bug report for, I never expected any kind of response.  I figured that it would get filed along with the rest and I'd never hear of it again.  Turns out I was wrong.  They just asked for screenshots of the problem, which I gladly sent them.  But it was more then I would expect from say Microsoft.

No comments:

Post a Comment