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article imageGoogle Play Music now uses AI to guess what you want to listen to

By James Walker     Nov 14, 2016 in Technology
Google has announced a substantial overhaul of its Google Play Music streaming service. The company has rebuilt the app with a brighter, upbeat design and new features powered by machine learning. 'Personalised music' is now the core focus.
Google announced the new version of the app today. It will begin to rollout as an update on Android, iOS and the web in regions worldwide later this week. Google described the new app as a "fresh take" on music streaming that's more intelligent and easier to use.
The most noticeable change on opening the app will be the revamped home screen. The new design has been built from the ground-up to suit every user, creating the "ultimate personal DJ." Google uses artificial intelligence to populate the home screen with songs it thinks you'll want to hear. If you open the app while at work, it'll suggest a playlist of songs you frequently listen to while focusing. Alternatively, a set of more inspiring tracks might be played early in the morning.
The home screen isn't entirely reliant on AI. It's also honed by dedicated curators to ensure there's always fresh content available in the app. The AI is there to augment the experience, making it more personal, relatable and applicable to individual users. Human input will be present in all the recommendations made by the service.
Google has used the same context-aware tools that feature in its other apps to build Play Music. Because its AI already knows most users, it can begin to deliver personalised music suggestions as soon as the app is opened. The machine learning functionality is entirely optional and will be enabled on an opt-in basis. Google is anticipating that most users will benefit from the convenience it offers.
"When you opt in, we'll deliver personalized music based on where you are and why you are listening – relaxing at home, powering through at work, commuting, flying, exploring new cities, heading out on the town and everything in between," said Google. "Your workout music is front and center as you walk into the gym, a sunset soundtrack appears just as the sky goes pink, and tunes for focusing turn up at the library."
The new Play Music also comes with features that help to make it more accessible. While it's a streaming service at heart, Google recognises that not everyone can find a reliable internet connection during the day. To accommodate these offline scenarios, Play Music will automatically cache your favourite tracks and keep them available when the Internet isn't.
Once you've subscribed to the feature, a playlist of the songs you've listened to most recently will be generated. This will be automatically updated and stored for offline playback, keeping music available wherever you are. It avoids the disappointment of forgetting to download a new album or relying on an unstable mobile network.
The new app will begin to rollout across supported platforms in the coming days. It will be available in 62 countries worldwide with full support for the context-aware machine learning within. The app represents Google's growing ambitions in artificial intelligence, aiming to include the technology in all its products. In Play Music, it will be tasked with increasing convenience and reducing the gap between opening the app and starting playback.
"From parks to airports to bars, whether you're walking, biking, or driving, the right music makes any moment better," said Google. "With the new Google Play Music, we're here to help with the perfect soundtrack for the things you do every day. After all, the only thing better than finding the perfect music is the perfect music finding you."
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