Google has announced that a major overhaul of their music streaming service, Google Play Music, is rolling out this week. The update will bring a significant change to the user interface of the app but there are also a lot of changes happening behind the scenes to make a better overall experience. What the company is doing is building in Google’s machine learning into the app. The idea is for it to learn the music you like as well as when you listen to certain types of music so it can make better and more accurate suggestions.
Google Play Music uses machine learning to figure out what music you like and then mixes in signals like location, activity, and the weather along with hand-picked playlists to personalize music for wherever you are and whenever you want tunes. Starting this week on Android, iOS and the web, the new experience will roll out globally (62 countries, to be precise).
This should sound pretty familiar. Google has been in the process of injecting their machine learning into all of their apps and services over the course of the past year with the aim to have their apps and devices understand you better. While we tend to think of machine learning in big contextual things (like Google Home for example), having it in straight forward apps like Google Play Music will bring a much richer experience to users too.
Interestingly, the new contextual elements (i.e. the machine learning) are opt-in so they are not enabled by default because, as you would expect, this part of the app is gathering personal information on your listening habits. Personally I think I’m going to confuse the hell out of it because on any given day I’ll listen to Chopin to Iron Maiden to Marc Antoine. Let’s see how it figures
that out! 🙂
Seriously, you have to opt-in and if you do, it will start learning your listening habits and start making more accurate suggestions of what to listen to from the service. It will provide those suggestions based on where you are, time of day, etc. It will learn you and that’s the idea and frankly, it’s needed. There are times when I get suggestions from Google Play Music and they have no real meaning for me – I simply don’t like that style of music or it doesn’t fit the mood. This update should improve this dramatically and I can’t wait to give it a go.
Another new feature is automatic offline playlist downloading to your devices. The list is automatically created by Google Play Music based on what you have been listening to lately. Those songs are downloaded to your phone (and updated as you listen) so you have them available offline. This is great if you are on a flight and forget to download music to your phone prior to takeoff. Now you don’t have to worry about it. You will have a least some music to listen to as you go.
The updated Google Play Music is rolling out starting today and the app updates should hit devices this week. Some of the features do require the $9.99 per month (or $14.99 per month for a family of 6 users) to enjoy (like the auto-download of music). If you haven’t tried the service, it is one of the better ones out there and you can try it free for 30-days to make up your mind on it.