Google Play Music All Access Hands On: Better Than Spotify?

google play music main

Google is going after Spotify with its new Google Play Music All Access service, which lets you listen to favorite tunes, create personalized radio stations, skip an infinite number of songs and get recommendations based on your musical tastes. The service is available now for a free 30-day trial. It will cost $9.99 a month, but if you sign up before June 30th for a trial, you will only pay $7.99 a month. So how is the service? We went hands — and ears — on to find out.

Installing Google Play Music All Access on your phone or tablet, is as easy as downloading the app. In the top left corner is a menu button that opens a drop down box from which you can access  the Listen Now page, My Library, Playlists, Radio and Explore.

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The app’s default home screen is the Listen Now page, which features a two column list of cards for each album your recently added to your Library. At the top of the screen is a single card that spans across the two columns displaying the last song to which you listened. 

home screen

Tapping the options button in the top right corner of each card lets you start a radio station based on the song you’re hearing or the album from which it came. This same options button lets you add the album to your queue, keep it on your device or add it to your playlist.  You can also open a new page with all songs by that artist, which are already saved on your phone.

Tapping anywhere on a card gives you a list of all of the songs you’ve download from a particular album. From here you can listen to either a single song, start a radio station based on the album or a song and add the album or a song to your queue or playlist.Music Play All Access (3)

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From the My Library menu, you can choose from — you guessed it — any song in your Library folder. Songs are broken down into categories including Genre, Artists, Albums and Songs, each of which you can swipe between via taps at the top of the screen. The Playlists page gives you access to all of your saved playlists created both in the Google Play Music All Access mobile and desktop apps.

my library

Radio allows you to create and search for new radio stations based on your favorite artists, songs and albums. In a move clearly inspired by Pandora, within a radio station you can thumbs up or thumbs down a song, which helps make the app smarter. You can add songs from stations to your library, save them to a playlist or save your station’s current queue.

google radio

It’s important to note that when you add a song to your library, you aren’t actually purchasing it. So if you want to listen to it outside of Google Play Music All Access, you’ll have to purchase it from the Google Play store. Unlike Spotify, you can also scroll through the list of upcoming songs in your station, remove them from the queue, share them or buy them. 

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If you’re looking for something new to rock out to, you can check out the Explore section to browse musical genres, recommended albums, featured playlists, top albums and top songs, as well as new albums.

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Overall, navigating the app was easy, thanks to its intuitive design. If you’re used to using something along the lines of Spotify, you’ll have no problem using Google Music Play All Access. Whether or not Google’s service is better than Spotify is up for debate.

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Sure you can skip an infinite number of songs, but unlike Spotify, there’s no free listening option. The truth is, Spotify offers most of the features being made available through Google Play Music All Access. Most of the music we searched for was available across both services, with the exception of Metallica, which was only available in Spotify. And while both services let you share your favorite songs with your friends, Google Play Music All Access only lets you share songs via Google+, while Spotify lets you share songs via Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler.

Basically, if you’re already invested in Spotify, there doesn’t appear to be much of an incentive to switch over to Google’s service, particularly if you’re a cross platform user who has an Android phone and an iPad. 

Will you switch to Google’s offering?

Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
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  1. Jeremy Says:

    Unlike Spotify, Google Music Android app will go into landscape without any hacks, and I can import otherwise unavailable songs into it. Win to Google…no contest.

  2. che Says:

    As a Linux User spotify treats me like a citizen 2. degree with no official support and only via propertiary, closed and bad maintained Software. Google let me embrace their full potential under every Platform that has a Webbrowser.

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