Google Music comes to iOS--as a Web app

Who needs a PC? If you house your music on Google's servers, now you can stream it straight to your iOS device, no app or iTunes required.

It may not be much to look at, but Google's browser-based Music Beta interface gets the music-streaming job done.
It may not be much to look at, but Google's browser-based Music Beta interface gets the music-streaming job done. Screenshot by Rick Broida

Google Music for iOS is here. Sort of.

Google's streaming service, a rival to Apple's forthcoming iCloud and Amazon's existing Cloud Player, already offered limited but functional streaming to iOS devices, but only via a clunky, hard-to-navigate version of its full-size Web interface.

Now, when you sign in to your Music Beta account on your iDevice, you'll find a mobile-browser-optimized interface. In other words, a Web app.

And a decent one, at that. A horizontally scrolling toolbar lets you browse your Google Music library by album, artist, song, playlist, and genre. There's also a search option.

On the other hand, the interface feels rather sluggish, and it lacks such basic play options as "shuffle all." Plus, the now-playing screen shows an album cover thumbnail, but not the album title. (The song title and artist are displayed.)

Meanwhile, the iPad version, if you can call it that, looks small and unoptimized, barely different than what you see on the iPhone.

For all its limitations, however, Google Music is arguably the single best way to stream your music library to your iOS device from the cloud. For now, anyway. (Amazon Cloud Player can do it as well, as outlined in my tutorial, but the interface is still mobile-unfriendly.)

It's also free for up to 20,000 songs. Apple's iCloud will almost certainly offer a better overall experience, but it comes with only 5GB of free storage--enough for about 1,000 songs, give or take.

What do you think of Google's offering? Good, or not quite good enough?

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