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Google needs to make a better Play Music app
Six months after All Access launched and I haven't looked back at Spotify, but being an avid music listener who uses Play Music incessantly, I definitely have my fair share of gripes with the Play Music app and I'm hoping Google is working to streamline it this coming year.
I generally only use playlists when I work out but my tastes vary depending on what I'm doing and I like to switch up the order of my music. "Shuffle" doesn't necessarily work great when you're looking to play a faster song near the end of your workout. So I've depended on the Queue feature but it has never worked properly. Clearing queues ends the song that's now playing. Queued songs are listed behind remaining songs in a playlist - this can be frustrating when a playlist has 30 or more songs. And it's not remarkably easy to remove a song from the queue without making a mistake. On top of that, it is very hard - even on my Nexus 7 tablet - to change the order of songs. To me, it seems like even a person with relatively small hands would have a hard time toggling a song up and down a playlist.
Google definitely has done its homework with the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' option, but I think the 'Listen Now' section is largely a wasted bit. It often identifies new releases I'm genuinely interested in, but will struggle at doing things like displaying playlists/songs I've played recently or have been playing a lot. Sometimes I'll open 'Listen Now' just a half hour after running through an entire playlist and that playlist's card will be listed halfway down the screen in 'Listen Now.'
Even after improving the Downloads section, it is still frustrating when I have no idea which song is currently downloading. Play Music will tell me that a playlist is currently being downloaded on my phone storage, but it doesn't display percentage-by-percentage progress on specific songs. When I'm headed out the door and deciding whether to wait for a playlist to finish downloading, I never know what song is being kept. Additionally, the Downloads menu is hidden in the Settings Menu and should move up to the Holo menu. It's a big part of what I pay for with All Access and should play a more central role in the app.
Additionally, the Play Music widget is downright embarrassing - ugly, not particularly functional, and generally useless. Google really needs to revamp the widget and could do with offering more options in the lock screen widget (volume toggling, listing queued songs, etc. come to mind). I think that Google really needs to optimize the Play Music app to better suit the needs of people who use it and when people use it - working out, at a party with friends, in the car on the way to work, etc.
I'm definitely content with the Play Music app and don't anticipate switching back to Spotify anytime soon, not that Spotify even begins to offer most of these features, but I'm hoping Google will gradually improve and optimize the Play Music app in 2014. Google definitely catches on to a lot of features that bug users - I applaud them for introducing SD card storage and faster downloading as part of several Play Music updates this year - so I'm hoping for an even better Play Music app moving forward. What do yall think?