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Google Play Music subscription opens in India with machine learning powering contextual playlists

Given that Google already knows so much about its users, recommendations could get more sophisticated the more one uses the service — at Rs 89 a month, for early subscribers

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Apr 6, 2017 02:05:38 PM IST
Updated: Apr 6, 2017 02:50:23 PM IST

Google Play Music subscription opens in India with machine learning powering contextual playlists
Image: Shutterstock

Google has launched in India a subscription option for its music service, Google Play Music, which promises to tap the search giant’s machine-learning tech to learn as you play and offer up context-sensitive music.

The streaming service is available not only on devices running Android software but also on the web and on Apple’s iOS devices, for an introductory discounted fee of Rs 89 per month if one signs up within the next 45 days, Google said in a press release on Thursday. Data charges, which you pay your broadband service provider, are your own, of course.

“To make the experience deeply personalised, we’ve plugged into Google's understanding of context and machine learning to recommend the right music at the right moment based on each listener's preference, place and activity,” Elias Roman, lead product manager for Google Play Music, said in the press release.

That claim is probably true, given how much Google already knows about its users, and with India being a predominantly Android market.

Google’s streaming service takes on a similar, costlier, service from Apple, which has been available in India as well for a few months shy of two years now. The comparable Apple Music subscription costs Rs 120 a month, and is also available on Android.

India, where consumers are loath to pay subscriptions, does have some 30 million to 50 million households that might be interested. And the ad-free radio experience, with unlimited skips, could be tempting, especially in the car in traffic snarls, when ad-dependent free FM radio channels might be bombarding one with more noise and less music.

Google Play Music subscription opens in India with machine learning powering contextual playlists

Such options will increasingly become viable, as the cost of 4G data in India comes down. As also with ride-hailing services providing in-cab cellular broadband built into the cost of the ride and the option to plug one’s own playlist into the cab’s music system.

Google is offering some 40 million Indian and international tracks — the Play Store said 35 million when this writer just signed up — in many local Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, the major south Indian languages and English.

One other feature that will make Google Play Music attractive is that subcribers can download their music to listen offline, where there aren’t data connections available. Life for standalone music streaming services such as Saavn and Hungama, will probably become a tad more difficult now.

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