Google Music revamp focuses on music discovery

Alex Kidman 15 November 2016

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Google is using its AI smarts to promote contextually relevant tunes.

An increasingly marketed feature of many music services isn’t just the size of their respective music catalogs, but in the way that you discover the songs that they offer.

That’s because once you reach a certain critical mass the difference between 1,000,000 songs and 1,100,000 songs may not make that much difference, and also because the benefit of having a wide library of music is in discovering new tunes or artists that might suit your existing tastes.

Google is in the process of rolling out a revamped version of its Google Play Music service that will match in its existing playlists option with a lot more AI smarts. It’s not just a question of matching similar types of artists, but, according to the company’s announcement, mixing in "signals like location, activity, and the weather along with hand-picked playlists to personalise music for wherever you are and whenever you want tunes".

Which means, rather predictably, that the more you tell Google about your life, likes and locations, the more contextually relevant information it can feed into Google Play Music to deliver appropriate songs, whether that's high-intensity fare at the gym, lower paced music at home or, presumably, more sombre fare if it notices you’re in a funeral home. As with all other Google products, that information is also used across other Google services, including the choice of and way it presents advertising material to you.

The home screen for Google Play Music has been revamped to reflect the new discovery-centric features, and these also extend to offline play. Google’s claim is that the app will download a selection of music based on your recent listening habits so that even if you’re offline (say, for example, on a plane) you’ll still have music to listen to.

Google Play Music is a free download for Android and iOS, as well as being capable of playback on desktop devices through a browser, with subscription plans in Australia costing $11.99 per month, including access to YouTube Red.

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