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Google Play Music All Access review

Michael Sawh

By Michael Sawh



Our Score:


Google Play Music All Access – Performance

Google Play Music All Access is very easy to use once you get your head around the concept of having one big library of music. Each All Access section has the ability to choose between 'All Music' and music only stored on the device. If you don’t have it 'pinned' (Google's way of saying it's stored locally), or don't have streaming enabled over 3G or 4G the cover artwork is faded out and inaccessible.

As is the case with most streaming music services it’s probably a wise decision to go easy on streaming over a data connection to avoid biting substantially into the monthly data allowance.

Getting your own music on there is still a painful process, especially if you are willing to take advantage of the full 20,000 track cloud allocation. You can only upload music using the desktop manager, but at least purchased music doesn’t count towards that allocation. ‘Pinning’ music to a specific device is equally an arduous process. Single tracks can take a while to upload, some took as long as 10 minutes, making the chances of quickly bundling on some new music before leaving the house slim.

When you get to playing some music, streaming works quickly, but not necessarily instantly. Picking the Normal streaming quality serves up similar results to Spotify, of course this can fluctuate due to the reliance on having a good internet connection.

The Explore and Radio modes work better than most, picking out tracks and albums similar to our tastes. However, it’s low on any curated great playlists to help you discover new music.

One significant issue we did have was the drop in sound quality when pinning music already stored on a smartphone to the All Access app. Taking a track bought on the Amazon MP3 store and pinning it to All Access altered the audio quality making it sound distant and very murky.

It’s not bug-free either. On more than a few occasions error messages popped up claiming that there was no space left on our device to play and cache a radio station or playlist.

One advantage over some other streaming music services is the ability to use All Access on numerous devices (up to 10) at the same time. As long you are logged into your Google account you can listen to music on a tablet, smartphone and on the web without booting being booted out of any.

Should I buy Google Music All Access?

Google Play Music All Access offers a slick all-in-one solution for managing your music. If you like being able to access your music collection from any computer or Android smartphone/tablet you can. It lets you fill in the gaps in the music catalogue so you can avoid the dreadful tribute songs. If you still want to make playlists you can do that as well. If you love discovering new music, All Access does a good job of that too.

It’s not the perfect solution just yet though. You can still only upload music from a computer using the desktop manager and it’s not cross platform. There are still some bugs present and re-pinning music affecting the sound quality is an issue too. If social features mean a lot to you, the lack of Facebook and Twitter support is sure to frustrate.

Spotify along with its ad-free £9.99 and £4.99 monthly price plans still offers a free subscription albeit littered with ads and a maximum amount of hours to listen to a month. Streaming feels faster and more seamless on Spotify. Radio and Discover have improved and the dedicated apps make it feel more than just about building playlists these days. Spotify does only allow you to store 3,333 songs offline compared to Google’s 20,000 and you can only use the account on one device at a time.

If you are an Android user, it’s definitely worth trying out the 30 day trial to see whether Google Music All Access is the perfect fit. Google does a lot of things right with All Access and it’s actually cheaper if you opt in now.


Google Play Music All Access is a great way to unify all of your music all in one place. If you don't own an Android phone or tablet, it's worth waiting until cross platform support is added before subscribing.

Overall Score



August 13, 2013, 4:32 pm

You can't stream simultaneously on multiple devices, the previous device will get paused.

'Your Google Play Music account allows you to listen to music on up to ten devices through your account. Music from your Google Play account cannot be played simultaneously on more than one device at a time.'



August 13, 2013, 4:34 pm

One thing I have noticed with Play Music Android program (sorry, it takes a bit of explaining):

I have a load of MP3s saved to my SD card and have methodically added high-res album art to these files. I haven't bothered to add album art to my main music collection because my previous program of choice had a tiny album art picture and a purely text-based library manager. Music on my phone, however, is a more visually navigated experience so I wanted the art on show.

Anyway, when I uploaded everything to Play Music (I don't see the problem with Music Manager, personally, I just left it running in the background and it automatically adds anything new if detected) it also uploaded the low-res, missing or wrong art (again, because I didn't care about my base music)

The problem comes with when I log into Play Music on my smartphone. The first thing it does when it connects to the server is pull all the data and art from the Play Music server INCLUDING THE ART OF THE OFFLINE FILES! Thus lovely high-res album art gets overwritten by shoddy low-res or wrong art and there is no way to stop this!

So, my recommendation to everyone is this: Make sure that all your tags and album art are correct and high-res BEFORE you upload anything to the online locker! However methodical you are with your locally transferred MP3s, it will be overwritten from the online copy, which seems to always takes priority!


August 14, 2013, 10:29 am

I am a huge google fan in general, so I've been waiting for this. I admit that I prefer free streaming services (use torch music now), but I can't imagine google putting out a bad product. Time to buy in!

Kevin Smith

August 14, 2013, 11:50 am

Can you scrobble to Last.fm using this service?


August 14, 2013, 12:49 pm

Not on competitors OS. How is that a negative? Can we assume any Apple only reviews of software will include a negative of "Android not supported"?

As it's google, I'm assuming they'll put out an iOS app, but it seems a rather unfair critique even if they don't. The world doesn't revolve around iOS devices.

Michael Sawh

August 14, 2013, 1:59 pm

Hi BlackAle, interesting that Google states that on the Support page. I have on more than one occasion been able to run radio stations and play the same songs from the library on two separate devices (tablet and smartphone) at the same time without any pausing. Have you had a chance to give it a try yet?

Connor Mason

August 14, 2013, 6:21 pm

I am able to scrobble using the Last.fm Android app, but I haven't found an official way to scrobble using the web player

Kim Wong

August 15, 2013, 3:25 am

I agree with Michael, I've been able to stream from my computer and my phone simultaneously, even on the same network.


September 10, 2013, 10:23 am

A warning, particularly if you use the trial: when you cancel "Google Play Music All Access" make sure to do it from within your Google Wallet settings. The way described in the Online help does not work. If you have not received a cancellation mail, the service has not been cancelled.

Pete Coventry

September 11, 2013, 11:25 pm

The only other good thing about Spotify is that you can buy a months unlimited which goes to 2 weeks premium. You can then download songs and on the last day sync to get a new licence and then listen offline for 30 days.

So it's cheaper


October 10, 2013, 6:00 am

You can download a Web scrobbler for Chrome (and I assume other browsers too) which works great with online audio streaming sites. Works flawlessly with Google Play Music and YouTube.

James Darmody

November 5, 2013, 12:28 pm

No iOS support. Just like iTunes doesn't support Android then. Only the likes of Spotify seems to cover all the bases on that front.

No Twitter/Facebook support. Good - I don't need to share what I'm listening to with all and sundry. It's a very minor ommission in all honesty.

Can only upload from desktop. Whilst true, Google Music has loads of stuff on there, 95% of my music was already on all access. Personally I ensure my music collection isn't all stored on one mobile device, for a start it'd never fit, but secondly it's pretty bad practice. You want it stored on a cloud based system really, a NAS or something similar to that. Not on a mobile phone.

Thus I conclude that the above review is actually a bit on the poor side.

The true cons of Google AA Music are as follows:
- Sometimes it's hard to find songs that you know are on there! E.g. Searching for 'Coldplay Atlas' didn't bring back their latest song even thought it was there.
- Some albums don't feature all the songs (compliation albums), I'm guessing this is because of license reasons, but it's frustrating.
- Apparently you can't use Google Play vouchers to pay for your subscription, which is annoying, as it means there's no point in me asking for a few for Xmas.

- It does work on multiple devices at the same time, I've had it running on 4 devices at once !
- Good music selection that is constantly improving
- The offline storage option is brilliant, if I'm going abroad or on a plane I can download lots of music to keep me entertained for hours.

So as a subscriber to the service for a few months (I went for it at £7.99 p/m), I'd rate it as 8.5./10 for the above reasons. The uploading and Twitter/Fb cons as listed are irrelavent really.


January 31, 2014, 8:16 pm

I love this app, I use it all the time, never use my music player anymore. Any downloaded songs show up right away. 10/10!!

Caleb Wessels

May 16, 2014, 5:38 am

It seems to sometime's work and sometimes not for me ... It'll let both my boyfriend and I play on separate devices and then randomly pause them. Very frustrating, I would even be willing to pay an extra $2-3 a month to unlock another device.

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