The latest test build of Google Music for Android was leaked a few days ago by an employee at Verizon. You can get the application here if you don't have it already. The app includes several improvements and UI tweaks; I will take you through them all now.
Firstly, the UI has had a makeover to fit in with the latest version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It has a blue glow and minimal design to allow for easy navigation. The main screen when you load the application is laid out in tabs - these being Recent, Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists and Genres which is pretty much standard for a mobile music player. In the lists of each of these tabs are different arrows; block arrows on the right of entries and thin arrows on the left. The arrows on the right appear in most list entries and allow you to see further options for the item, acting much like a long press. The thin arrows on the left, seen when viewing artists and genres, allow you to expand the entry to see albums listed under it.
When playing a song, you will be taken to the 'Now Playing' screen. At first, from this screen you can see album artwork, the song title, artist and album and backward, play/pause and forward buttons. These provide the basic functionalities of the player. On this screen, you will notice there is a thin arrow pointed upwards which, when clicked, shows a less graphic and more information-centric view. Note that this can also be done by tapping on the album artwork. In this second view, you have the additional options to 'like' or 'dislike' a song, shop for the artist via the block arrow, scroll through the song, shuffle and repeat.
Throughout the whole application, the search button and Now Playing field are present. By clicking on the search button you can quickly find songs, artists and albums - it is a universal search. Clicking the Now Playing field, represented by the album artwork, song title and artist, will take you back to the Now Playing screen.
That's it for portrait, now let's flip our phones!
The UI in landscape mode is very attractive and much more graphical. In the Recent tab, songs are stacked and ready for you to flick through them as in version 3.x of the application. To change the tab, click the button in the top right with the block arrow in it. This view still seems to be under development as the menus are in the style of the old application.
The albums tab has been redesigned and is now much smoother. Albums can be browsed by flicking through or by dragging the blue scroll-bar at the bottom of the screen which lets you more accurately find a specific album. Clicking on album artwork in this view will take you to a standard list of the songs in the selected album and clicking the text will bring up the long-press menu.
Top tip: Try pinching, as if you are zooming, in the Album tab in landscape mode and see what happens.
The Artists tab in landscape is much the same as the Album tab, but with one difference; if you tap on stacked album artwork in this view, the stack will expand to show you all albums by the artist you selected. This is extremely smooth - smoother than any other application of its kind. The Songs tab in landscape is rather disappointing - just a simple yet practical list - but do bear in mind that this is by no means a final release so this may change.
The Playlists landscape tab is much like Artists. It functions in the same way; when playlists are selected, you will be taken to a list view of all the songs in that playlist. It does exactly what it should do; allows you to quickly access previously categorised songs.
The Genres tab is like the Albums tab. It is just as flowing and allows stacks to be expanded to show all of the albums in that stack.Thus far, you cannot edit genres or any song information for that matter. You will have to edit them in your browser in Google Music or on your computer if you aren't lucky enough to live in the US.
Well, that is a lot for just one application, but this leak does tell us more than just this. The leak was reportedly provided by a Verizon employee which means the Nexus Prime - Google and Samsung's latest Android smartphone which will be the first to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich - will probably be found on this network. This means a 4G model is a given which will put the device up there with the iPhone 4S. What's more, the version and build number (4.0.x.xxx) of the application could tell us that Ice Cream Sandwich will be Android 4.0 not 2.4.
Google and Samsung postponed the Unpacked event, at which the Nexus Prime was going to be officially announced which could be because of some last minute tweaking in light of the iPhone 4S's release or other legal matters with Apple. What I will say is that the device Google and Samsung produce will surely be mind-blowing. It will feature what I believe will be the best mobile software on the market and will probably leave a trail of competitors behind it wondering where they went wrong.