I’ve sat on this for over a week because I wanted to be sure this exit was not simply a bug, and after repeated testing, it seems to be a permanent situation for now. At this point, you can’t install the YouTube Music on a Chromebook via the Google Play Store. While there is a clear path forward, here, this is an odd move for Google without a clear solution for end users wanting to use YouTube Music while things get sorted.
The web app works great and the interface is pretty good, too, but at the end of the day, there are tons of Chromebook users who lean on Android apps for things like this, and they may or may not know where to look for their music at this point. After all, for some time, Google has pre-installed the YouTube Music app on Chromebooks out of the box and now it is simply gone. Again, you can simply use music.youtube.com to listen from a very competent web player, but there are key pieces missing from the experience.
Most importantly, there’s still no official cast functionality available on the web. I’ve ranted many times about this and there is no excuse for this missing functionality whatsoever in a Google-made, YouTube property. I mean, can you imagine YouTube TV on the web without a cast option?And before anyone recommends casting a browser tab as a solution, just know that this method offers the user a defunct volume control of smart speakers and cannot play back music without constant interruption from notification sounds (even with my volume muted and my notifications turned to silent). Nevermind the fact that the cast session dies the moment your Chromebook lid shuts down.
Additionally, the web version of YouTube Music won’t let me stay in the logged-in account when I open up YouTube proper. For YouTube, we clearly deal in our creator account and in YouTube Music, I’m in my personal account. About 60 seconds after switching accounts in YouTube, my YouTube Music playback stops and there’s an error informing me that I’ve switched accounts. This never occurred when I had access to the admittedly-janky Android app.
A PWA replacement could be inbound
My guess is a proper PWA replacement is on the way via the Play Store soon. Just like YouTube TV, Twitter and Google News, I could see Google replacing the Android app for YouTube Music with a direct install of the very-solid PWA of YouTube Music. Adding the cast button in the UI would solve most of the gripes I have with YouTube Music on the web, so that should be a relatively simple addition. After that, the web app is nearly ready to fully replace the Android app on Chromebooks and would make a lot of sense being delivered in this way.
For now, however, you need to navigate to the URL to use YouTube Music on a Chromebook and we don’t know how long it will be this way. While I understand the move to replace Android apps with PWAs for Chromebook users, I don’t understand there being a gap in availability. Sure, some users will know how to navigate this for now, but many won’t. With YouTube Music already causing stress and unrest with its forced arrival and replacement of Google Play Music, this is simply a bad look. Hopefully Google either rolls out the PWA in the Play Store soon or simply puts the YouTube Music app back in place in the interim.