Google adds offline “radio” listening to All Access

google play logo convasAlthough not yet showing in the Google Play app store, it is widely if sporadically observed that the unfortunately-named Google Play Music All Access subscription service, version 5.4, adds offline access to “radio” stations. In this context, as in all subscription music services, “radio” means a streaming playlist. Google All Access provides house stations, and dynamically-generated streams based on a band or artist entered by the user.

Offline listening is a standard feature of jukebox-style services, provided to their subscription customers. Indeed, offline listening, in which tracks are stored in the phone or tablet, is an important feature attractions that drives free users to become paying users. Google All Access, like Rhapsody, is subscription-only; there is no ad-supported free plan as in Spotify or Rhapsody. So, with this 5.4 update, Google brings its feature set to parity with other subscription plans among interactive services. Many users will probably think, “Finally!”

Also included in the upgrade is device management. Google All Access can be deployed in 10 personal devices per account. Five years ago that would have been a generous allotment, but these days it’s easy to hit that ceiling. In the past, users had to go into the web app to deactivate an old device and add a new one. That doesn’t make sense in an increasingly mobile world, so Google’s addition of mobile device management is another point of relief to power users.

Brad Hill