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posted on 2020-10-15 18:44:00 .
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There’s not much time left for Google Play Music. We’ve known Google’s 9-year-old music service was on the way out, but this week Google has started to actually shut down parts of its cloud music service in the hopes of pushing people to YouTube Music.
The gradual shutdown started on Monday with the death of the Google Play Music Store, which previously let you purchase music for playback and download, as opposed to the all-you-can-eat rental services that dominate the music landscape today. Google’s Music store was a section of the Google Play Store, which now just shows a message saying the feature has been removed. Google is getting out of the business of selling music entirely and now only offers a rental service through YouTube Music.
The other big feature shutdown is music playback on Google Home and Nest Audio speakers. While the Google Music app still works and you can start a playback through Chromecast, you’re no longer able to start music by voice through Google Assistant devices. If you dig into the Google Assistant settings (that means opening the Google app on your phone, then hitting “More,” then “Settings,” then “Google Assistant,” “Services,” and finally “Music”) you’ll find that the “Google Play Music” option has completely disappeared. Now the only supported services for voice commands are YouTube Music, Pandora, Deezer, and Spotify.
Google was talking up a smooth transition from Google Play Music to YouTube Music, and while the initial transfer process will bring all your Google music to YouTube Music, the YouTube Music service isn’t anywhere near ready for prime time and is missing a host of features. Support for playing uploaded YouTube Music playlists started rolling out to the Google Assistant this month, but it still hasn’t hit everyone. I can’t start any music by voice now, even with YouTube Music selected in the settings. My speakers only tell me “I can’t do that here, but you can ask me to play it on one of your other devices.” There are similar reports on the YouTube Music subreddit.
Google Music is scheduled to completely shut down sometime this month. Right now, the only thing left is streaming via the smartphone app and the Google Music website.
Is Google Play next on the chopping block?
While there hasn’t been any formal announcement about the future of the Play Store, I think it’s time to start wondering if “selling everything” is still the vision for the app’s future. In Google’s original vision for the Play Store, it was a one-stop-shop to buy apps, games, books, movies, TV shows, and music. But now we’re seeing evidence that the Play Store is being parted out.
Besides losing the music store to YouTube Music, in the past few days, we’ve seen the “Movies and TV” store get duplicated in the new “Google TV” app. Google’s media apps have previously had seamless links to their own sections in the Play Store, but that’s not what’s happening here—Google TV launched with an entire duplicate store in the app’s codebase. On the Google Play Books front, Android Police recently spotted an experimental UI test for the Play Store that removed the “Books” section entirely. That leaves nothing but apps for the Play Store.
We might be on the path to an app-store-only version of the Google Play Store. It would certainly make navigating the app a lot easier, which currently is a nightmare to negotiate, with deep cascading sections for each wing of Google’s media empire. This would also be a chance to kill the terrible Google Play branding. We already lost Google Play Music to YouTube Music, and Google Play Movies and TV now totally lives in the “Google TV” app. That leaves the worst-branded item, Google Play Books, which could easily be Google Books, and then there’s only the Google Play Store left. The “Google Play Store” branding wouldn’t make much sense at this point, but would Google want to make obsolete the millions of printed posters, cards, and Web buttons that are out there?
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