I have a lot of music. I have a lot of CDs and I have all of them stored on my iMac. Along with those, I have just as many CDs that I’ve downloaded from iTunes over the years. I have about 1,000 albums all told. I also have a 32 GB iPhone 4. I have crammed as much music as I can on it, but at best, it can only hold about 100 of my albums. I therefore miss out on playing a lot of my music and that’s really bothered me. So call me late to the party, but I recently came across Google Music at play.google.com. It’s a free cloud-based service that imitates iTunes in many ways and is probably viewed as a direct competitor to Apple. Strangely, though, when you sign up with your Google account, you have to enter a credit card number, but it goes on to charge you $0. I’m not sure what the meaning behind that is, and I really don’t like it, but for the time being I guess it’s acceptable. Some of the benefits of Google Music are obvious. You can listen to all of your music any time you want anywhere you want, as long as you have an Internet connection or access to “the cloud.” Unlike Amazon, which I understand doesn’t have much storage capacity, Google Music allows for storage of up to 20,000 songs. Friends, that’s a lot of songs. After I opened my account, I then told the app on my web browser to start uploading all of my albums from iTunes, and it started doing just that. I was surprised to find I only had about 11,000 songs, so I could probably have 1,800 albums before getting close to Google’s limit. That was a pleasant surprise. It took the better part of a day to upload everything, and to my minor frustration, it didn’t actually upload all of my albums. It missed about 50 of them, give or take. I don’t know why. It also on occasion showed different album covers than what iTunes shows for cover art, but quite often Google Music got it right when iTunes got it wrong. Interesting.
Now, the real reason for opening up my new account … I had to get an iPhone app for Google Music so I could listen to all of my albums on my iPhone. Exciting! To my disappointment, however, there aren’t many Google Music app choices in the iTunes store. I counted about four, although I guess I could have missed one somewhere. I’ve downloaded these four and want to report here what my reactions are to them. They’re mixed and I’m not entirely satisfied with any one of them.
First, I downloaded GoMusic. It seemed easy enough to use. As was the case with all four apps, I had to enter my Google name and password and it downloaded my entire library to the app. Surprisingly, it didn’t take very long at all to download close to 11,000 songs to any of these apps. At first I was pleased with GoMusic. Until it started doing something which I found both annoying and inexplicable — it would cut off songs before they were over. Why? And not on every one either. No rhyme or reason to it. I became annoyed, so I looked for another one.
Next, I downloaded gMusic. gMusic seemed pretty cool. It has an easy menu, from which you can choose playlists, artists, songs, albums, genres, etc. Pretty exhaustive. And thankfully, this one didn’t cut songs off at the end! Good, right? Wrong. After using it for several hours, which really drained my battery, it stopped working. Just froze. Don’t know why. I was disappointed, because there really weren’t too many more choices out there.
Next I downloaded an aesthetically pleasing one called Melodies. It too seemed promising. Like the others, you can choose from playlists, artists, songs, albums, and more. One feature I found enjoyable was beside each of the albums was a miniature icon of the album. The others just had lists. I thought this was cool. I started using it extensively, but to my bitter disappointment found that, like GoMusic, it cuts off various songs before they end. It’s really distracting when that happens.
Finally, today I’ve tried yet another: Blackbird. Blackbird had uneven reviews on iTunes, with many people talking about its glitches and crashes. However, when it worked, people seemed pretty happy with it. This one took the longest to download my Google Music library, but it wasn’t too bad. One feature I really like about this one is it includes your cloud-based Google Music AND any music you have stored on your iPhone’s iPod. Since I have a number of albums on my phone that never got uploaded to Google Music, this was a big plus, having both. However, Blackbird is not without the aforementioned glitches. You can choose from playlists, artists, albums, and songs like the others, but when I choose “Albums,” nothing happens. They simply don’t appear. So I have to choose from artists or songs in alphabetical order, which is okay I suppose, but not ideal. I would like to have a working Album feature. Also, to my immense irritation, this app also cuts some songs off prematurely. It seems that three of these four apps do that and I have no idea why.
Google Music seems like a pretty good service, and if you’re an iPhone owner, you’ll need one of these apps. I hope I’ve given some insight into what they’re like. There really isn’t a lot separating them from each other, but I think I’ve decided to go with Blackbird because of the fact that it draws from my Google Music account and my phone’s iPod. I really like that. This way, I can delete albums from my phone that are in my Google Music account and upload albums that never made it into my Google Music account. Best of both worlds. I think I’ve given up on GoMusic, while if gMusic worked, I’d use it the most. Melodies is attractive, but ultimately lacking. Download some of these for your iPhone and let me know what you think. Cheers!
EDIT: 5:40 PM
OK, less than 30 minutes after writing this review, Blackbird stopped playing mid-song and crashed. Upon opening it, I have no songs in my library there anymore. There are no songs, artists, or albums. WTF? Man, these four apps SUCK!!! I guess I’ll go back to using Melodies and living with having the ends of my songs cut off. *sigh*