Last week, Google introduced its Google Play Music All Access streaming subscription service. Like its main competitors, Spotify and Rdio, the service costs $9.99 a month (or $7.99 if you sign up before June 30) and gives users access to its entire archive of music to stream. But the service is limited to desktop browsers and Android users, which is a bit of a bummer for those with iPhones and iPads who are only able to listen through mobile browsers or third-party applications. So, one developer took the unfortunate news into his own hands and made Google Play Music All Access available to the iOS masses.
James Clancey is the man behind the gMusic application for iOS. It originally debuted in 2011, when Google unveiled the original Music service. To date, there is no official Google Music client for iOS, so gMusic has served as one of the more popular applications to act as a workaround to this limitation. After last week’s Google I/O keynote, Clancey spent the weekend figuring out a way to make many of the Radio features in Google Play Music All Access available to the iPhone-toting crowd. Clancey had submitted the update to the iTunes App Store earlier this week, and on the Thursday the app was updated to include full support for Google Play All Access, including the ability to stream music directly from Google Play and create and save Radio stations.
When you start up the application, it will first ask you for your Google credentials. You’ll then be taken to a landing page showcasing your entire Google Music library. While gMusic’s interface is certainly user-friendly, anyone with improperly categorized, messy music libraries may find it a bit frustrating to use, especially if you sync podcasts into the cloud. Navigation can also be a bit confusing, but if you lose your place you can click back to the side to bring up the navigational pane.
The slightly messy navigation doesn’t take away from the functionality of the application. As you select a song to play, gMusic will pop up a little loading icon next to each song to indicate how much of the track has been buffered. And just like with the Google Music application on Android, users can start a new station from a song: hit the ellipses button for more options and then select Create Radio Station. The radio station won’t instantly start up, however; you’ll have to go back a step to the navigational shade and select Radio to go to the station you just created. Playlists work the same way, too, though they’ll populate with songs you already have available in your library.
If you want to search for new music to listen that that you don’t have currently synced or uploaded with Google Music, hit the “Web search” option to begin your query. You can search for artists, albums, and individual songs. Your music might get interrupted, however, as buffering can be a bit staggered in between songs. It’s not quite clear whether this is an issue with gMusic, Google’s servers, or the iPhone’s wireless connection. A few days ago, Paul Joyce, the product manager for Google Play Music, told Hypebot that “our system isn’t really built or optimized for third-party apps.” Our testing was done on an iPhone 4S connected only through Wi-Fi.
In addition to all that Google Play All Access Music has to offer, gMusic also includes Airplay support (which we were unfortunately unable to test because of a lack of compatible hardware) as well as lock-screen integration and offline support. The app will recall what you were listening to before you closed down the application, and it also supports streaming over 3G, though this was another feature we didn’t have the ability to test.
This isn’t an official Google application so it’s not expected to be without a few kinks. If anything, it should be more of a pull for Google to push out an official application for this service for those users that want it. We don’t know much about Google’s plans to bring Google Play Music All Access to the iOS platform, and the new features aren’t available through the mobile browser, but the real question may be whether or not Apple will bring its rumored forthcoming subscription music service to iOS before Google can make a compatible app.