Google announced as part of its acquisition of Songza in July that it would bring some of the music streaming service’s features that users love to Google Play Music. Three months later, the company has followed through with those plans by integrating Songza’s “Concierge” feature with Play Music, enabling users to create contextual expert-curated playlists for an improved listening experience across all platforms.
The latest version of Play Music automatically prompts users to play music based on mood, time of day or activity, such as songs to listen to during a morning workout, while cooking with friends or while stuck in traffic. The service then provides several music stations to match the situation, curated by a team of experts including dozens of DJs, musicians, music critics and ethnomusicologists.
Google Play Music project manager and Songza co-founder Elias Roman provided me with a first look at the updated version of Play Music ahead of its release, claiming that the streaming service is unrivalled in terms of its ability to provide contextually-aware music that is right for any moment. Overall, I was impressed with the improvements that make Play Music a much more personable service.
Better yet, the curated music stations can be downloaded to your device for offline listening where cellular service is unavailable or to save data. As someone who rides the subway in New York and has to deal with my streaming music cutting off after a few minutes, I can certainly attest to the convenience of being able to save songs for offline listening. The feature is available for free, so long as you remain a subscriber.
Play Music also has a new “thumbs up” category that essentially keeps track of the history of songs and albums that you stream, alongside the following other auto playlists: queue, last added, free and purchased, shared with me and sound search. If you have ever used the Favorites section on rival streaming music service Rdio, the feature is essentially the same on Play Music.
“You can download these music stations to listen when you’re offline, see what song is up next, and add, remove or re-order them to suit your taste,” writes Google on their official Android blog. “Or you can start a new station based on any song in the mix. You can also search for a particular station you want or activity you want to find music for.”
Google Play Music has also been updated with an improved “Listen Now” experience and a redesigned user interface based on Material Design, which arrives just ahead of the release of Android Lollipop. The latest version of Play Music should be rolling out now for Android, iOS and on the web, although it may take a little longer before it is available on each platform.
Play Music activity-based music station recommendations are available to subscribers in the United States and Canada at no additional cost, while the redesigned “Listen Now” page is available in all 45 countries where Play Music is available. With over 30 million songs available on Play Music, deciding what to listen to is not always the easiest task. Hopefully, these changes will make things just a little bit easier.