Google has added a flurry of new features to its YouTube Music recently to prepare it to replace Google Play Music, which will be sent to live on a farm with Google Reader, Inbox by Gmail, and other sunsetted Google products by the end of the year.
The latest comes in the form of Suggestions, which leverages machine learning to suggest songs to add to Playlists based on your listening habits or contents of your existing playlists. The feature is rolling out to users on a limited basis.
We're lucky to have a device that has access to the new feature. Here's how it works.
Step 1: Update YouTube Music
While this appears to be a server-side update, it's a good practice to update your app in order to get the latest features. For now, it appears to be an Android exclusive feature, but it should make its way to iPhones eventually.
- Play Store Link: YouTube Music (free)
Step 2: Start a New Playlist or Edit an Existing One
The feature works with your personal playlists, not those curated or auto-generated by YouTube Music (although, I've learned that saved mixes transferred from Google Play Music are now considered playlists that I created). So, navigate to Library and tap the Playlists section. You can start from scratch by tapping "New playlist" or select one of your existing collections.
Step 3: Add Suggested Songs
If you're building a new playlist, you'll find the Suggestions list below the Add a song button. In my test playlist, suggestions were similar to what I'd find in the Your Mix playlist, so this is a good option for building a fresh playlist that reflects your recent tastes and preferences.
If you're adding to an existing playlist, you'll likely need to scroll down to find the Suggestions section. In my limited testing, I found that the suggested songs aligned with the content already in the mix.
To add a suggested song, tap the icon to the right of it on the list. Don't tap the song title, as that will start a mix based on that song instead. Repeat for as many songs as you'd like to add; once you've scrolled to the bottom of the list, you can then hit refresh for a new list of AI-curated songs. Once you're done, scroll back up to play or shuffle.
Also, there appears to be a 20-song cap on existing playlists for Suggestions to appear. As luck would have it, I actually have playlists with 20 and 21 songs each that illustrate the limitations. As you can see in my previous examples, the playlists with 20 or fewer songs provide Suggestions, while the 21-song playlist below does not include Suggestions at the bottom.
Music streaming is a relatively competitive field, so Google will need unique features to stand out against Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music and retain previous Google Play Music subscribers. The Suggestions feature is just one differentiator that can help YouTube Music distinguish itself. Another one is Collaboration, which allows you to invite others to contribute to playlists, which we're keeping an eye out for.
Hopefully, Google has even more tricks up its sleeve to further enhance YouTube Music. Perhaps an upload tool in the app? Or a full-screen widget like Google Play Music that expands the album art?
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