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For playing music on Android, Google Play Music is really unmatched Are Google's First-Party Play Apps Any Good? Are Google's First-Party Play Apps Any Good? Google makes a lot of apps but are they actually worth using, or should you delete them and never look back? Read More . Its web version basically replaces iTunes, and its Android app acts like the iPhone’s Music app. You can play all your local music, stream music from Google, stream podcasts, and a lot more.

If you have an Android phone, you should at least give Play Music a chance. Let’s take a look at exactly what makes this app so great.

Download: Google Play Music (Free)

Streaming Music

Google Play Music is all about streaming music, and Google even has its own artificial intelligence that pays attention to what you like and dislike and tries to suggest similar things The New Google Play Music Knows You Secretly Love Nickelback The New Google Play Music Knows You Secretly Love Nickelback Google has given Google Play Music a bit of a makeover, and this one is more than skin deep. Machine learning means the new Google Play Music knows you better than you know yourself. Read More . It even takes into account things like the time and your location to suggest certain stations.

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For instance, if you’re at home around 6pm, it will suggest music for making dinner, ranging from Kitchen Dance Party to Country Comfort. The main screen is filled with these suggestions. Some are based on artists, playlists, or stations you’ve listened to recently, and I’ve generally found them to be useful in helping me find music I like.

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When you get started, Play Music should prompt you to choose some genres and artists so that it can better recommend music to you. Of course, this is just a starting point — it will continue to learn as you give thumbs up or thumbs down to different songs.

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If it doesn’t prompt you, though, or you skip it, you can always swipe in from the left, select Settings, and select Improve your recommendations. With your recommendations set, you should see relevant music displayed on your homepage. You can select any station to see what artists are on that station or to see similar stations.

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Actually playing a song will pull it up from the bottom of the screen. The currently playing song is always accessible along the bottom of the app, and you can swipe up to see it or swipe down to put it away at any time.

From the Now Playing screen, you can play the YouTube music video associated with the song (if it exists), view your current Now Playing playlist by tapping the music icon in the upper right, pause or play the song, skip to the next or the previous song, and give the song a thumbs up or thumbs down. The thumb system allows Play Music to better learn what kind of music you like.

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The Now Playing playlist is easy to modify. Just tap and hold to the left of any song (on the horizontal two-line icon) to change its location in the playlist. At any time, you can tap the three-dot icon to the right of any song, playlist, album, or artist to start a radio station based on it, add it to your queue or a playlist, and see other details about it.

The interface is always heavy on the graphics, emphasizing album art and providing a nice visual experience. The motion to pull up the music player from the bottom is intuitive and convenient. Plus, you can access tons of free music tuned to your preferences. What more could you ask for?

Other Features

Of course, Play Music isn’t just for streaming Google’s music — it can also be used for your own music! You can upload your music either through your desktop Chrome browser using the Play Music extension or you can use Google’s Music Manager on your desktop. You can upload up to 50,000 of your own songs, and then you’ll be able to stream them or download them to any of your devices.

Unfortunately, there’s no official way to download all your music at once for offline playback. You have to do it by album or playlist. Thankfully, we’ve found a bit of a workaround that involves creating giant playlists How To Download All Of Your Music From Google Play To Your Phone How To Download All Of Your Music From Google Play To Your Phone Do you really want to go through song by song or album by album and download all your music? Of course not. Thankfully, there's a quicker way. Read More of all your music.

Once you’ve got your own music downloaded, you can swipe in from the left of the app and select Downloaded only to use the app completely offline.

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There are a few other menus in Play Music, including one for New Releases, one for your local music called Music library, and one for Podcasts. Most popular podcasts are available on Play Music as well as iTunes, and the music player adjusts to allow you to skip forward or backward 30 seconds at a time in podcasts.

It’s not as versatile as other podcast apps The 8 Best Podcast Players for Android The 8 Best Podcast Players for Android Want to listen to podcasts on your Android phone or tablet? Let us show you which apps to use. Read More , but it gets the job done, and it’s nice having all your media consolidated in one place.

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You’ll also find a few other little features buried in the settings, like a basic equalizer 4 Equalizer Tools to Get The Best Out of Your Android Audio 4 Equalizer Tools to Get The Best Out of Your Android Audio Nearly every premium Android music app comes with a working equalizer (e.g., n7player, doubleTwist) and there are a few free music players with working equalizers as well (e.g., Shuttle Player, Rocket Player). However, if you... Read More , a sleep timer, and the ability to save all your downloaded music to an SD card rather than internal storage.

Paid Subscription

Have you been waiting for the catch this whole time? Well, here it is: There are ads.

Google is trying to sell you a service, which is why the music streaming options are so front and center — that’s the real money maker. If you want to stop being interrupted by audio ads every few minutes, you’ll have to shell out $9.99 for a Play Music subscription. That’s the same price as Spotify and Apple Music, but Google throws in an extra bonus: YouTube Red Is YouTube Red Worth the Money? 7 Things You Need to Consider Is YouTube Red Worth the Money? 7 Things You Need to Consider YouTube Red has made headlines, both good and bad, but is the $10-a-month subscription service actually worth the money? Here, we look at the facts, and draw some conclusions. Read More .

Every Play Music subscription includes a YouTube Red subscription and vice-versa, meaning that you also get ad-free YouTube videos, the ability to play YouTube videos in the background, and the ability to download YouTube videos offline.

There’s really a lot of value packed in that monthly $9.99 fee, but even if you don’t want it, the ads aren’t any more annoying than they are on the free version of Spotify.

What Do You Think of Play Music?

That’s about all there is to Google Play Music. It’s largely a music streaming app with a local music player and podcast player buried within it. If you’re simply looking for an offline music player, there might be better options The 15 Best Non-Streaming Android Music Player Apps in 2016 The 15 Best Non-Streaming Android Music Player Apps in 2016 Want to play local music on your Android device? One of these apps is going to work for you. Read More , but Play Music does its job well.

What do you think? Is Play Music the best music player on Android, or do you prefer another app? Let us know in the comments!

Originally written by Riley J. Dennis on November 20th, 2013.

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