Three months after acquiring streaming music service Songza, Google Play Music has finally learned some new tricks.
Today Google announced that it’s rolling out an updated version of its Google Play Music “All Access” service with Google’s new material design, better song recommendations, and an improved “lean back” experience to complement its library of over 30 million on-demand tracks.
Undoubtedly the biggest change in this update is the improved recommendation features, many of which are borrowed (or improved upon) from Songza, which help to curate playlists of songs based on your mood, location, the weather, activity, and more. These Songza features — as well as the “concierge” recommendation feature that tries to predict your mood with a mix of songs — are available in the updated All Access, with 65 music experts crafting thousands of new playlists for you every day.
However, All Access is a bit different from Songza in how you’re able to grab those playlists and interact with them. You can search for one using nearly any set of criteria via the search box at the top of the Google Play Music home page. And while every music mix is curated based on a variety of factors, you can always refresh a playlist you aren’t feeling to get a fresh set of songs without having to change your search criteria. Google Play Music also lets you reorder the tracks within a playlist to fit your needs, or download them for offline listening if you plan to be in an area with a spotty Internet connection.
On top of those recommendations, there are also some suggestions based on what you’ve already told the service you like by clicking a “thumbs up” button on a song or artist. These appear as part of a revamped “Listen Now” experience, which will let you create a station from one of the songs displayed. (You can also do this on any track within a playlist.) And while I’ve yet to play with the updated service, this does seem like a pretty nice balance between actively seeking music and just letting it play in the background (aka “leaning back”).
“Songza has always been really good at the lean back [experience], so we tried to bring that to Google Play Music without calling it out,” said Songza founder and Google Play project manager Elias Roman in an interview with VentureBeat. “So if you want to ‘lean forward,’ we can accommodate.”
“But there aren’t two kinds of people — those that sit back to let the music play… and those that are constantly engaged in discovering new stuff — just one. We didn’t want people to tell the difference,” he said, adding that Google Play Music is attempting to be a complete streaming music that involves less work and provides more entertainment regardless of how much you engage with it.
The updated Google Play Music concierge feature is only available to those who subscribe to the $10 monthly All Access service, but the new Listen Now feature will be available starting today to everyone with a Google Play Music account across 45 countries where the service is available.