Long rumored and finally accomplished: Google dropped its tortuously-named Google Play Music All Access app into the iOS store today, extending its subscription service to Apple mobile-device users. (The launch was announced by Google here.)
Pointless, you say, because Apple device users are loyal to iTunes? And furthermore because iTunes Radio, less than two months old, is a huge boulder crashing into the streaming music pond?
Those are good points. But the launch of iTunes Radio is a good reason, by itself, for Google to establish a competing benchmark in Apple’s operating system. Beyond that, distribution of streaming service is guided by the principle of ubiquity — be everywhere. If it doesn’t hurt to be there, be there.
Inside the app, you’ll find mostly identical features and layout as in the Android version, but with iOS 7 beautification. It is beautiful beautification, as in all the other music apps which have updated, and Google would do well to note its pleasing effect and upgrade Android’s aesthetics.
In our quick (for today) but intense examination, the iOS app lacks one major feature, which is sharing. We could not easily find a way to publicize our listens or favorites within a paid account. The apparent omission is all the more puzzling because Google Plus is available in the Apple store.
Some settings are different also, comparing Apple to Android; the Apple version is less informative and controllable. It lacks the Android EQ module, the user’s billing date, and download/streaming setting such as restricting bandwidth-consuming activity to WiFi.
Overall, the two app experiences are similar enough to make any Android user feel instantly at home with an Apple phone.
Will Apple reciprocate with an Android version of iTunes and iTunes Radio? If you’re not laughing out loud right now, you didn’t hear the cynicism of the question. Apple creates ferociously closed systems, and besides that governing principle, iTunes Radio is woven into the iTunes Store as a support system and purchase funnel. That brings up one other missing piece in Google’s iOS app: the Buy button, which in Android goes to the Google Play store. Google is evidently willing to separate streaming from buying, but Apple probably is not.