Earlier this week, Google appears to have mistakenly allowed a Tech from 10 blogger access to an unreleased version of Android Market, and with it, a taste of the cloud-based Android Music 3.0 app Google has been “dogfooding,” to use its unappetizing term for the testing of internal products.
Out of all of the leaked screenshots, the one to the right tells us the most about what Google has in store for music fans on the Android platform. These settings reveal that Google’s Android Music 3.0 app will manage the playback of cloud-based vs. local content in a variety of powerful ways.
Let’s start with that top setting — the one that’s cut off — which we take to read “Hide unavailable music.” This one means that customers with limited wireless data plans (i.e. most people) can disable the ability to play music from either their music locker or the rumored Google Music streaming service.
Fans will apparently be able to build playlists containing both local and cloud-based songs, making the latter invisible when away from Wi-Fi, so as not to rack up big streaming bills. This is an important feature because wireless data limits pose a major issue for cloud-based media services: You don’t want to use up your whole month of wireless data on, say, a single road trip.
The second one down, “Cache music,” creates ephemeral copies of whatever you’re listening to so that you can access the last few songs again if you’re on the subway or airplane. We’ve seen this feature before, and it works nicely as a way to ensure that you bring a little piece of the cloud with you in the event that you lose connectivity.
Moving on down the list, we see two options for “Stream music via Wi-Fi only” and “Download via Wi-Fi only.” We love these ones, because they mean you can set Google’s music app to stream or download whenever you’re connected to the internet through a local network. This might not seem like a big deal, but the advantage is that you’ll be able to set this once and then forget it, and the app will behave as it should as you connect and disconnect from local networks without you having to toggle these settings within the app each and every time.
“Download queue” reinforces what we already know, assuming these screenshots aren’t just a well-crafted hoax that hoodwinked the tech press this week (which we doubt, from the looks of them): that Android Music 3.0 will have the ability to download multiple songs, one after the other, onto the device. Apple has yet to add that feature to any of its iOS devices, so score +1 for Google.
However, nowhere among the leaked screenshots did we see a single social feature. You can play music (obviously), manage playlists, and stream or download from the cloud depending on your connection, but basically, you’re on your lonesome.
Now that Google has taken the extreme, likely-Facebook-inspired measure of tying every single employee’s yearly bonus to the success of social features across the Google ecosystem, you can bet their last dollar that Google’s dogfood-eating hordes are busy as can be integrating social features into Google Android Music 3.0, which could delay the app further behind Amazon’s surprise entry into cloud-based music — already a cause for concern from both Apple and Google.
In case any Googlers are reading this now, here are some great ideas/potential acquisition targets for making music apps more social.