Tech

YouTube may have won the streaming game with its new app

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Dave Fawbert
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Ta-ra Tidal, so long Spotify, adios Apple Music, push off Pandora - the big boy is well and truly in town.

Industry experts are predicting that a new YouTube Music app, launched in the US last night, could rise up and win the music streaming game in the near future.

Firstly though, for those of you starting to get confused by the varieties of Google music streaming services on offer - you're not alone. The new announcement means that we now have YouTube, YouTube Red, Google Play Music, YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Music.

To quickly decode that - YouTube is the free everything-video service you know and love, YouTube Red is the subscription service which removes ads and enables offline viewing, Google Play Music is the existing audio-only competitor to Spotify and the rest, and YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Music aim to separate YouTube's three main areas of content into their own space.

So what does it offer?

Firstly, it's a standalone app, available in the US on iOS and Android, with a clear focus on the music content available on YouTube. It is, apparently, the culmination of a year's worth of learning from Music Key, a beta music subscription service which was offered to selected 'heavy music listeners'.

You can play videos, there are 'radio stations' which provide music based on your tastes, the primary one being 'My station', which sets you off listening to a combination of songs YouTube knows you like, and what it thinks you will like - you can choose more, or less 'variety' depending on how you're feeling - this is the most powerful feature that the company appears to think will work best.

Meanwhile, there's a Trending tab, and new music playlists such as 'The Daily 40' or 'On the Rise', taken from looking at the YouTube community at large. Crucially, for YouTube Red subscribers, you can also not bother with the video if you don't want to, flattening the service down to audio-only - perfect for background use, or for running and similar activities. You can also take that audio-only offline (you can do the same with video if you need, though obviously that's more data).

There's also a cool feature called the offline mixtape - again, for YouTube Red subscribers - tell the app how much space you want to give it, and it'll create a playlist as long as it can with songs it thinks you will like - it's refreshed daily, so you can be on the cutting edge as hits make their way through.

The big draw, of course, is that, with access to YouTube's enormous content, you've got live videos, fan videos, remixes and unofficial covers are all available - meaning that its breath of content is bigger than Spotify and the rest.

However, questions still remain - you can't currently create your own playlists beyond liking videos and the app remembering that and prioritising them, and (we assume) there's still the danger of hearing lower-quality versions, rather than the official masters that you're guaranteed on other streaming services.

So, it's probably not perfect - but YouTube is already effectively number one in the streaming game overall, due to its enormous user base, so this is bound to be huge news.

It still looks like Google Play Music is the more 'straightforward' option if you don't want Spotify or Google Music, but the potential winner could be a combination of the two - Google Play Music when you want to control your listening in a traditional manner, and YouTube Music when you want videos and a little fun; naturally, you get both of these when you subscribe to YouTube Red.

So, we await its arrival in the UK with interest; until now, watch the nice-but-pointless video which supposedly 'introduces' YouTube Music. Hey, at least it's got the Chemical Brothers as the soundtrack.

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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