In June Google launched the beta of their long rumored music service called appropriately enough “Music Beta by Google.” At launch Google provided a desktop web app and an Android app to work with the service, but did not provide an iOS app. Today Google released a new HTML5-based mobile web app version that works very well in mobile Safari on iPhones, iPod Touches, and the iPad.
Given the kerfuffle around the Google Voice app, not to mention Apple’s content purchase policies, I can understand Google’s hesitancy investing time developing an iOS app. Developing a rich web app based on HTML5 makes a lot of sense because Google can make it available to iOS users without obtaining Apple’s approval or having to provide a cut to Apple if Google starts to sell music some time down the road.
Google has done an excellent job in developing the mobile web version of Music, and I think this app really shows off the power of HTML5 for producing web apps that are nearly identical to native smartphone apps. The mobile web version of Music, which works equally well on Android, looks and functions just like the Android app, although it does have a few limitations. You can’t pin music for offline us in the web app, nor can you add a track to a playlist.
What you can do, however, is browse your music catalog and play music in the same way as you can using the Android app. You can also play music in the background while running other apps on the device, as well as with another browser window open.
In order to use the Google Music beta on your device you will need a subscription to the service, which is current available by invite only, although invites are now a little easier to come by than earlier this summer. If you have access to the service you can open music.google.com in Mobile Safari to play your music.