Friday, 11 May 2012

Google Play Music Android app concerns

The Music app on my Android phone has recently updated to be Google Play Music, obviously as part of Google's rebranding of the Android Market as "Google Play" for selling movies, music, books and apps (or just movies, books and apps in Australia). The new look is fine, and it's much the same app, but what I don't like is the lack of control. Poking around the updated application I saw an old podcast that I had since deleted, so I went to delete it again. The app told me that this file had been "sideloaded", which is not a thing, as well as uploaded to Google Play Music, and only the "sideloaded" content would be deleted, if that was okay. I said "yes", mostly because I did really and truly want to delete it, but it got me worried for two reasons.

One, if I copy a podcast to my phone, will Google Play Music then use my very limited mobile data bandwidth to upload it to the server automatically? Two, where are all the settings and options? All I see when I select "Settings" from the menu are two options, one of which announces the app version and the other which lists the open source licenses associated with it. What I expected, at minimum, was an option to tell Google not to upload my files to any servers at all, and to only play music that I have already stored locally on my phone. I don't want any apps that decide for themselves to use my very tiny mobile data quota to copy huge files to servers at unspecified times, or to stream those files from the server instead of my local storage. I could use up my entire month's quota of data in four individual podcast episodes by accident without even knowing it if that happened.

It's probably in part because the Google Play Music store is not available in Australia that some of the features are disabled on my phone. Also, my searches for help online are hindered by the existence of a desktop Google Music app. And because the desktop app is only available in the USA right now, but the Android app is worldwide and intimately tied to the desktop and cloud services, we Android users outside the USA get a crippled app that does things we can't control. Maybe. It's still not entirely clear. I can't check the cloud services because they're not available in Australia, and I can't find any discussion specifically about the Android app.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - At least the website knows not to let me see the music side of things.
PPS - If only the Android app were as smart.


Anonymous said...

I live in El Salvador and actually I am using the google play streaming service, I think you just have to change your google account to point to the USA and you are done, it is a great service and 8GB for more things in my memory...

John said...

I've looked for ways to do this, and I can't find any. Google must determine where you live based on IP address rather than a user-specified preference. Either that or I just can't find it.