If iTunes is the centre of the iOS/OSX sphere of influence, then Google Play is undoubtedly the centre of the Android sphere. But at one time, it was simply a music service along the lines of the iTunes store, but it offered so much more than Apple did: it allowed users to upload a copy of their MP3 library to Google’s servers for streaming music to Android devices or through a browser.
Now, I have quite an extensive library full of rather obscure recordings and eclectic variety, so this came as a huge boon to someone like me. Pandora, Spotify, and Slacker could only go so far with their curated playlists full of repetitive tracks and limited playback options. For years, I’ve been looking for a solution to curate my music library for portable playback (“the Cloud” wasn’t quite a thing yet), and the only option available to me was the $300 iPod Classic (which has since been discontinued), a hefty price to pay for a dedicated device.
My biggest timesuck with Google Play’s music service has been cleaning my MP3 library. 30+ years of collected recordings tends to produce a few duplicate tracks now and again (many of which were songs pulled from Napster that I have since legitimately acquired by purchasing the full album). Granted, you are not required to take such meticulous care of your library, but I tend to be a little obsessive over cataloging, and I like everything to be just so. After several weeks dedicated to cleaning ID3 tags, eliminating duplicates, and filling in missing artwork, I was finally able to upload a clean version of my library: over 18,000 individual tracks! Google allows a whopping 50k tracks to be stored in your account, and the best part is that they will automagically replace your MP3 with the highest quality version available to them for streaming!
Now, I keep everything on a thumb drive organised locally via iTunes, then I upload a copy to Google Play for streaming to my devices: it sure beats the hell outta syncing and charging a separate iPod, I can guarantee that!