Google Magnifies New Music
By Yoni Gross. August 18, 2011, 11:23 AM CDT
Music Beta by Google is one of my favorite solutions for mobile music, because it has a great set of features for listening to your music collection on the go when your storage is limited. Unfortunately, Google leaves users with no way of finding any music they don’t already own. There’s no Pandora-style randomization, no Spotify-style shared playlists, not even Amazon-style purchasing. You get only what you bring to the table yourself.
Yesterday, Google launched the first step in solving this issue, and they’re calling it Magnifier. It’s extremely limited right now. You get a seemingly random collection of sections with free music. There’s a Song of the Day and Antenna, which is three songs by an artist of the week. You also get a Spotlight Feature, with two songs, but we don’t know how often that rotates yet. There are also a couple of Video Features, which are interviews with the artists along with a song or two.
Every post includes a small article about the artist. That means you get a pretty good idea of what you’re looking at before you add the tracks to your library. Which is good, because Magnifier doesn’t give you any way to actually hear the song before you add it. It does, however, offer to take you straight to the song in your music library, so you can listen to it immediately and then remove it if you don’t like it. A bit cumbersome, but it works. There’s also no good mechanism for seeing Magnifier from a mobile device, which is Music Beta’s key function. You can go to Magnifier from your phone’s browser, but you don’t even get a mobile version of the page, so it’s not a great experience. After a song is in your library, you get full access to it in the Music Beta Android app, including offline caching, but adding songs in the first place is clearly meant to be a desktop experience.
Magnifier also has an archive section, which right now looks like the list of music Google offers for free when you first sign up for a Music Beta account. There’s an interesting collection there, but unfortunately, you can only add entire genres of the archive to your library, not individual songs or artists. I guess that’s not a bad way to make your InTune headphones a better fit to your collection, but it’s a strange way to build a library.
Google is trying hard to add some value to Music Beta in the face of some pretty tough competition. Music discovery could be a strong piece of the puzzle to add, but I don’t think a glorified blog is really going to get the job done.
About Yoni Gross
Avid tech enthusiast and Android fanboy, Yoni is the author of the monthly column Voice of Objectivity. He also writes the occasional companion column Voice of Subjectivity, for when he disagrees with himself.