My Google Music Beta invite arrived today!

Not sure how many people are getting these at this point, so maybe it’s not that cool, but I’m pretty stoked to have received a Google Music beta invite.

So far the process has been fairly simple. There was a button in the invite email that took me to the webpage. From there it asked me if I’d like to select various genre’s of music that I like, and it would allow me to play many new songs, etc. for free. I assume this is some kind of sampler/marketing opportunity and they’ll encourage me to buy songs to continue listening to songs I like.

From there it had me download and install the Music Manager software to my computer. That process included telling it where all my music is stored (iTunes in my case) and putting in my Google Account username and password. It also asked if I would like to automatically add new songs to my Google Music library, when I added them to my iTunes library. I selected yes. Then it scanned iTunes to find all my music.

Once that was complete, it took me to the Google Music webplayer (the main player), where I could listen to the few songs uploaded from my library (it’s uploading more as I write this), as well as the free music based on my selection early in the process.

I’d already installed the Android app just to see if it was an improvement on the default Android music player, and it is! I played with it a week ago, and really liked it, just pulling songs I’d already loaded on my phone. Now we’ll see how well it works streaming my music off the new service.

Wireless Syncing of Music & Photos to Android

I take Wednesday’s as my day off. That’s because I can set my own schedule and roads, stores, attractions, etc. are all less busy on Wed., than on Sat. when everyone else is off. So yesterday I spent my morning trying to figure out the best way to transfer music, pictures, and media between my Android phone (Droid X) and computer, wirelessly. I only have one sync/charging cable (though I could easily get another since it’s just micro-USB), and didn’t want to keep taking it between the bedroom and office.

1 Bad, 1 Okay

I tried a couple free solutions. Android WiFi Manager was horribly slow, and well, just clunky in general. WiFi File Explorer is pretty cool in that there’s no desktop software to install. Basically your phone just serves up a webpage that you can access from any browser on the same network, then use it to view, download, or delete files on your phone. It’s a handy app to have if you think you’ll ever want to transfer stuff from your phone to a friends computer. There’s also a pro version ($1.25) that allows you to upload files to the phone.

I kept WiFi File Explorer on my phone, but wanted a better option, since it didn’t preview files easily (so I could know which pictures to download and/or delete) and it only allowed uploading (pro version) of 1 file at a time, unless you zipped them all first, then unzipped them on the phone, making it an untenable option for putting music from iTunes on my phone.

Dreaded doubleTwist

With a sigh of frustration, I finally tried the hated doubleTwist. I’ve used it before, only to have it freeze and crash constantly, besides being slow, and not having hardly any good features. However, things have changed somewhat, and I was pleased to find it working somewhat better now. It’s still on the slow side, even on my new and quite fast desktop, but now will sync with iTunes every time you start it up (if you set the option). That means I can still use iTunes to play music on my computer (I like features like Genius and smart playlists that dT doesn’t have), but dT will sync those changes whenever I open it. The new doubleTwist Player app for Android works quite well, and will probably be my main music app from here on out.

Audiobook Dilema

The same major shortcoming appears in doubleTwist as almost any app/sync software for Android: no Audiobook support. I like to listen to audiobooks. It allows me to do necessary things (like exercise or drive) while still engaging my brain. My solution thus far has been to copy the files to a unique folder on my phone’s SD card, then use MortPlayer to listen to them. Works great, but takes more work than it needs to. Why can’t someone just setup a solution like iTunes/iPod where those files are treated differently (spot is saved, etc.)?

doubleTwist Android Apps

doubleTwist Player has an add-on app called AirSync that is $4.99, but lets you sync your phone over WiFi. This is what I was looking for. Turns out its super simple to use. You buy and install the app then just type in the code you’re given, into the doubleTwist software on your computer. Then you can choose to auto-sync your library, or just drag and drop to and from the phone. The software will even give you thumbnails of images, video, and song titles, etc, so you can tell what you want to transfer or delete. I set mine to just sync various music playlists, then I can drag and drop images or video I want on or off my phone. doubleTwist also loads up all the pictures and video in your personal folders on your computer, so you can quickly browse those and upload to your phone. It seems its trying to be an all-in-one media manager, but still has a long way to go before it really starts replacing things like iTunes or Picasa. However, its a great way to sync wirelessly (or wired for that matter), as long as all you want to send/receive is pictures, video, or music.

Final Notes

Tip: plugin your phone the first time you sync, even if its just to a wall outlet while using AirSync, because the screen has to be on for AirSync to work. That means it’ll drain your battery quicker, and the first sync usually takes a while, if you’re transferring lots of music/files like I did.

Note: if you only want to sync music, iSyncr is a great app ($2.99) that syncs your Android phone with iTunes. Plus it has a nice add-on app called iSyncr WiFi Add-On for 99-cents, that adds WiFi capability. I’ve never used the WiFi part, but there are free versions of both for you to try out.