Google had no new mobile hardware to show off at Google I/O this year, and while that left most of the tech world feeling pretty despondent, we didn’t walk away empty handed. Google announced its new music streaming service that integrates seamlessly with its digital content store, Play Music All Access.
The minute it became available, many of us here at Pocketnow signed up for a trial period.
I was particularly thrilled at the thought of having a subscription streaming service work alongside all the existing music I’ve purchased from Google and the tracks I previously owned and uploaded to my Google Music account. No longer would I have to use Google Music to stream the music I own and Spotify for everything I don’t. I could finally consolidate to one app, and buy and stream songs and albums that aren’t necessarily available to All Access.
In a way, it’s like the best of both worlds. And when I started with All Access, it took me all of 10 minutes to decide it was exactly what I was looking for. A way to play all songs from a single band without having to clutter my playlists? Finally! A way to make playlists consisting of unknown local bands and my favorite mainstream bands into a single playlist? Perfect!
Fast forward just a few days, however, and my tune changed quite a bit. Play Access has some issues, and I was already considering canceling my trial and giving up the $7.99 introductory rate altogether.
But why? How did I go from being so excited about All Access to not being able to uninstall it fast enough?
Initially, I was worried about not being able to get All Access on other mobile platforms. That’s definitely still a pretty significant wrench in my master plan. I’ve switched back to carrying two phones, and I have the iPhone on one line. But that’s only one of the problems with All Access, and Google announced iOS availability in the next few weeks. (Google also said this about Google Play Music last year, and it did … by way of a Web app. Ew. But in truth, Apple was likely to blame.)
In just a few weeks of using All Access, I can definitively say it was not quite ready for prime time in mid-May.
I spent hours creating playlists, adding artists to my library and downloading music to my device (or attempting to, at least). After just one week, I got a notification that I had used 60 percent of my monthly data allowance … only a week and a half into my billing cycle. About a week after that, I got another message that I had used over 90 percent of my data. I had made sure I was only downloading music over Wi-Fi and it was not set to “Stream at highest quality only.” Yet, when checking my data usage in the device settings, Play Music had used over 2GB of data, compared to the 300MB Spotify used with more usage.
One problem is that I never could get songs to download to the device. Of the hundreds I had queued to download, only a handful actually saved to the device. The others just sat in the queue while I got constant notifications that – for no apparent reason – Play Music could not download my music.
And, sometimes, I simply couldn’t stream songs. I got a pop-up saying there was no storage available, which would have made sense, had there not been several gigabytes of free storage on my device. It would often just sit in a limbo state with a grayed out play button until I force-closed the app.
To say the least, there were a lot of kinks that Google had yet to iron out. Unfortunately, they were just the right kinks to turn me away. On a tiered data plan, being able to download tracks is vital. When I get in my car, I want my music to begin playing. I don’t want to have to finagle the app and force-close it beforehand.
Since the beginning of June, I’ve installed and uninstalled Play Music repeatedly. It’s getting better … slowly. And I can’t decide if it’s worth the trouble, if it’s worth waiting for. I don’t want to give up the $7.99 monthly rate to discover the service drastically improved after the June 30th cut-off date. But I also don’t want to waste $8 every month waiting on a buggy service to come around when I have a cross-platform service that works perfectly (albeit with a few quirks of its own) right now.
Chances are, I’ll hold on to it for at least another month and give it another test run. I still want for All Access to work as well in actual usage as it does in theory, where all the lines between the music I’ve purchased from Google, my previously owned music, and subscription music are completely blurred.
That is the sole reason I haven’t canceled my trial and walked away completely.
Tell me, readers. Will you be keeping All Access after the June 30th cut-off date? Or have you had as many issues as I have? And will you cancel (if you haven’t already)?