Google Play Music Gets a New Look

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This screen hasn’t undergone much of a transformation. It looks very much like the old user interface, with the familiar grid of cards. The “…” button has been moved to the top right corner of the album art. Unfortunately, this can make it harder to find. The new search field is available at the top of the screen. It has the same behavior of disappearing when scrolling, but reappearing with a flick.

Unfortunately, the “hamburger” button is absent from the search field. Instead, a back button takes its place on the left side of the search field. Given that users can move back by swiping the screen, a dedicated back button is superfluous. It would be much better if the “hamburger” button was available. As it stands, users must still go back to the Home screen in order to launch the main menu. If you’ve really drilled down far into the user interface, you may have to hit the back button several times to get back to Home.

Recommended New Releases Redesign

A new design for the Recommended New Releases screen brings it closer to the Home screen aesthetic. Although it features the familiar grid of cards design, the background color is influenced by the featured new release at the top. With a dark background color, this has the effect of minimizing the card’s shadows. The screen offers the same search field look and behavior, with a back button on the left.

I have to say, the Recommended New Releases feature has improved a lot. I am now seeing new releases that are suited to my tastes. It seems that the new Google Play Music update accompanies some tweaks on the back-end that have improved recommendations.

Other recommendation screens have taken on the same look as Recommended New Releases. For example, if you tap on a recommended artist on the Home screen, it will take you to a screen with a background inherited from the artist’s artwork. The cards are still a major user interface element on these recommendation and artist radio detail screens.

Predictive Recommendation Screens Redesign

The predictive recommendations screens are unique to Google Play Music. They take advantage of Google’s unique ability to analyze user behavior. For example, if it is raining in your location, you may be offered “music for a rainy day”.

The predictive recommendation screens have undergone a different makeover. The list of categories is no longer available at the top of the screen. Users are now presented with a much simpler interface. Categories of playlists for a certain mood, activity or condition are grouped into rectangles. Each rectangle displays thumbnails of album cover art that comprise the playlist, along with a brief description. This improved user interface is cleaner and more efficient than its predecessor. It saves the user from drilling down one more level to play music.

Google Play Music’s Interface is Better

Without a doubt, Google Play Music’s redesign is an improvement. The Home screen has undergone the most significant transformation, making it easier to get a few recommendations. Sometimes less is more, which seems to be the case with the redesign. Users are no longer overwhelmed with too many choices on a small screen. We’re not forced to scroll an almost endless list of musical possibilities. I think both Apple and Spotify could learn something from this example. (continue…)

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