When I bought my Galaxy Nexus, I was knew I had to handle three features my iPhone 4 does well on my new phone.
- Access to my music library in a convenient way.
- I can't live without my podcasts (which I listen to more than music)
- Up-to-date, high-quality apps.
I'll speak of #1 in this post, and maybe cover #2 in a later post.
Google Music covers my music needs but isn't the perfect solution. First and foremost, my biggest two issues essentially revolve around one major issue: the music upload process. My first attempt at Google Music involved uploading my old music library (not my lossless library) and it literally took days to upload many gigabytes of data.
Once uploaded, I quickly ran into a problem; since this was such an old library, put together with many different rippers, the ID3 tags were not universally filled in correctly. This causes issues with searching for an artist or trying to play a complete album -- most tracks are sorted by album artist (rather than artist, as some albums can have tracks with multiple artists) and this becomes a problem when expanding out to 12,000+ tracks. The second manifestation of this problem comes from trying to fix this ID3 general issue. Yes, the web interface provides a way to edit a single track ID3 tag, it has no way (that I can decipher) to edit multiple tracks at once. Furthermore, the Google Music Uploader app provided by Google doesn't update any ID3 information in the cloud should you edit it locally on your computer.
Fixing this situation was done in a rather heavy handed way. I deleted my entire library in the cloud and did massive overhaul of my library at home. I had re-ripped everything I still had on CD to lossless for my home server, so that was a good place to start. Since Google Music doesn't provide a native music library app, I used iTunes by using several "Smart Playlists" to find tracks with missing album artwork, album artist, and other fields not correctly filled in through the ripper. After several days, I was much happier with the state of everything, I re-uploaded my library. All my Apple Lossless was converted to mp3 (I'd rather have lower quality mp3s in the cloud, streaming to my devices anyway) and life was semi-good.
I then signed up for iTunes Match, a service that really shows Google Music to be a generation behind in cloud music services. Using iTunes Match, I imported in a lot of my old music -- music that I didn't have a lossless version of for many reasons. iTunes would then match it to versions on the server, flag that my iTunes account owned it and using more Smart Playlists, I could then find which tracks were matched and delete my local version, to later download a 256kbps AAC version. Granted, this cost me $25 a year, but it is money well spent for all those features.
Then, Google Music became involved again, uploading these new tracks and I quickly found out that I needed to do yet more library maintenance. Once again, since my local changes weren't also replicated in the Google Music cloud, I had to delete my library and re-upload. During all of this, I had to keep track of my ISP bandwidth usage as I am only allowed 250GB/month and uploading my library twice and downloading it once in 256kbps form quickly ate into that bandwidth cap. I actually ended up timing it so I could span two months worth of bandwidth to cover everything.
Since I now had to re-upload a third time to Google Music, I figured I would be smarter about it. Since all my lossless music is on my Mac server, I decided the best course of action would be to only install the Google Music Uploader on my MacBook Pro where I also run iTunes, subscribed to my iTunes Match, of course. Once it was installed, I had it simply watch my iTunes media directory for music and upload anything it sees there. Using iTunes Match, I could then download music selectively as I wanted to hear it on my laptop and it would automatically show up in my Google Music cloud library.
Even the Google Music store is really good, maybe even the best of the online store experiences. They regularly run specials, albums for $3-$4 and all of it is in 320kbps, the highest bit rate of any of the online stores. Upon buying, you can then share the album with anyone in your circles on Google+, something my friends and family have used and enjoyed to great effect.
Overall, I really like Google Music, it just suffers from a lot of the same problems a lot of Google services suffer from... there are just times where a rich client experience is a much better implementation. Additionally, if Google would just solve the local to cloud sync issue, the whole problem would go away.