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Summary:

Once the Google Music store in the Android Market went live, I decided to use all the Apple products I love but to replace iTunes Match and iTunes Music Store with Google Music, both for shopping for playback. Here’s how it went.

Android GoogleWeb gMusic

Once the Google Music store in the Android Market went live, I made my first Android Market music purchase. Not from an Android device and not from a Chrome browser but from Safari running on my iPhone. Then I decided to use all the Apple products I love but to replace iTunes Match and iTunes Music Store with Google Music. Here’s how it went.

Shopping Android’s Music Market from mobile Safari

One great thing about Google’s cloud strategy is that it is primarily browser-based. While this has many shortcomings when it comes to offline access, bandwidth and overall performance, it means I can access the Android Market for Music directly from Safari running on my iOS devices.

Unfortunately, I get sent to the full desktop site, which is less than ideal but still usable. Luckily the Android Market is set up to use Google Payments (makes sense), which I have had set up for some time now. While I was able to complete the transaction despite navigation issues, it was not a process I’m eager to repeat.

From Google Music in the cloud to Apple TV in the living room

One of the most convenient features of the iTunes experience is that no matter where you purchase your music, it will be instantly available on any iOS, Mac or Windows device with iCloud. I hoped that Google Music might be able to replicate that experience, so first I wanted to see if I could get music to play back on my Apple TV.

At first I thought it would be as easy as using Google’s Music Player in Safari to stream directly to my Apple TV using AirPlay. Unfortunately this didn’t work. The way Google has implemented its mobile web player seems to have inhibited my ability to use AirPlay on mobile Safari.

Instead, I decided to route music through iTunes first. I had already been uploading music from my Mac into Google’s Music Player in the cloud, so I assumed that it would be just as easy to download music, and it was. Google has updated its Music Manager on Macs to download purchased music as well as upload your preexisting music library. Once the album was on my Mac, I imported the music into iTunes, but I had to do this manually. It seems as if Google could have learned a thing or two from Amazon in this regard, as purchases from Amazon’s MP3 store can be automatically added to my iTunes library without any manual intervention. Once the music was in iTunes, I was all set to play back on my Apple TV via AirPlay.

Listening to Google Music on an iOS device

It took quite some time before the music I purchased was viewable via the mobile web version of the Google Music Player on my iPhone. What surprised me was that unlike in the web player, the music was almost instantly accessible when using Google’s Music service through the native iOS app gMusic.

GMusic is actually a great player: The interface is almost identical to that of the native Android music player, and it is very similar to Apple’s own Music App. The best part is that gPlus fully supports multitasking playback as well as AirPlay directly from your iOS device. If you are looking to switch from iTunes to Google for buying music and all you care about is playing it back on your iPhone, then this is the app to get.

Overall experience: not a better mousetrap

I don’t think that I will be abandoning iTunes anytime soon for Google’s new Music Store. That’s not surprising, since iTunes is tied so closely to iOS and Mac devices, but what is surprising is that to do exactly the same thing using an Android smartphone leaves you with a very similar experience.

What this experiment indicates to me is that Google thinks the smartphone is the central locus of most people’s music lives. Over the past ten years, Apple has expanded the reaches of its iTunes experience through iPod docks, car kits and AirPlay to help spread your music to anywhere you could hope to listen, and Google has a ways to go before it can match that level of maturity.

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Apple contrapositive or negative in this case. Apple has 1 data center with no redundancy.

    Well thanks for leaving that out, lol. Chalkie Walkie Talkies probably could care less. Time will tell about the iChalkie device.

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  2. It’s not about Apple’s UI for which they win hands down, it’s about playing by Apple’s rules in Apple’s world. Like many “visionaries”, jobs was a megalomaniac. Open standards are the only standards a customer should accept.

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  3. You mention a lot of things that are not quite correct, for example importing music, you choose which folders you want gm to upload, and select the option if you always want it to upload if new files are added, that’s simple synchronization – in fact when you first install google music on your desktop/notebook it asks you if you want to sync itunes at first start. your problem with the android market is, you didn’t go to google’s mobile version, would of solved your problems, not sure why your web version of gm didn’t show instant updates, i’ve been a beta tester from the beginning, problem with your apple tv is that apple has propriearized all of there creations, good luck with any apple invention, that’s the power of open source, so your airplay problem isn’t googles fault. Gmusic vs Googles Music App, googles if far much richer and better .. I know google republished its gmail for iphone today so shortyly you should see google music in your itunes store app selection..

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  4. You mention a lot of things that are not quite correct, for example importing music, you choose which folders you want gm to upload, and select the option if you always want it to upload if new files are added, that’s simple synchronization – in fact when you first install google music on your desktop/notebook it asks you if you want to sync itunes at first start. your problem with the android market is, you didn’t go to google’s mobile version, would of solved your problems, not sure why your web version of gm didn’t show instant updates, i’ve been a beta tester from the beginning, problem with your apple tv is that apple has propriearized all of there creations, good luck with any apple invention, that’s the power of open source, so your airplay problem isn’t googles fault. Gmusic vs Googles Music App, googles if far much richer and better .. I know google republished its gmail for iphone today so shortyly you should see google music in your itunes store app selection..

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  5. FYI, any program can automatically add music to iTunes. Copy the file into C:\Users\Name\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically add to iTunes. The next time the program is opened it will be imported into iTunes. Not sure if you could just make shortcuts to the original files to save space temporarily or not.

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    1. That is a one way ticket. I also use the same directory to upload to Google. It may be that I need to find a different music player on Mac, and just use Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil to get to the AppleTV, as I have done with Spotify in the past. http://goo.gl/Lm2EA

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  6. This article is very disjointed. It points out how the Google Music to iOS experience isn’t the same as the iTunes to iOS experience. This should be a given, even from someone who uses neither.

    The weird part comes in where the author suggests that the same problems exist in the Google Music to Android experience. It doesn’t, but the author is perfectly happy to claim so without giving any evidence other than an anecdotal story.

    It could also be said that the iTunes to Android experience isn’t smooth either, but I’m sure the author would blame this on Android rather than on iTunes.

    Perhaps this is where the world is today.

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    1. Using a Samsung Charge I found the experience the same on iOS as on Android. I especially liked gMusic on iOS and felt it was as good or better than the Google Music App on Android. I have always been looking for better ways to use Google’s services from my iOS devices. http://goo.gl/gXAHV

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  7. Google music is nice

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  8. Apple has not spread itunes to all of the devices that I want to listen. How do I listen to itunes music on my Android phone? The real question is not people leaving itunes for Google Music. The question now is which service to use with non-Apple products? Personally I get music from both Amazon and Google and it all resides on Google Music.

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    1. I do really like Amazon’s Music service, and find that it fits into Apple’s hardware ecosystem better than Google’s Music service. IIS also has a native iOS App for Amazon that will hopefully be back in the App Store soon.

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  9. GASP! You mean to tell me that Google Music doesn’t work as well on iOS devices as it does on Android devices that it was developed for?? Who woulda thunk?!

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  10. it hurt reading that….what a pain in the assssss. who wants to go to safari to buy music anyway.

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    1. I do prefer Amazons native App on iOS to purchase music over Googles browser based music store experience.

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