YouTube Music as a service actually launched all the way back in November of 2015. Sure, it wasn’t exactly the same thing it is today, but the bones of the music streaming service from Google have technically been around for nearly 4 years. Four years. Somehow in that vast amount of time, Google has still not figured out how to get its own, self-made streaming protocol to work with it on the web, and it’s getting ridiculous at this point.
To be a tad more fair, Google didn’t begin leveraging YouTube Music as the Google Play Music replacement until a little over a year ago. I’ll be honest, when YouTube Music first showed up on the scene in 2015, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. Deeply entrenched in Google’s main music service at that time, I didn’t really understand the need for it at all. Once the re-vamp and re-launch of the service happened in May of 2018, however, the writing on the wall started coming into focus. Google was ready to make YouTube Music its streaming music service of choice and I mentally began the process of considering the switch from Google Play Music over to YouTube Music.
As I launched the web version, I have to admit I enjoyed the interface. Sure, there was an album here and there that I listened to on Play Music that wasn’t yet on YouTube Music, but those things take time and I knew my switch wouldn’t be happening for a little while. Some of those missing songs were my first reason to hold off, but my biggest issue back then was a missing feature that was honestly a tad incomprehensible: there was no built-in cast ability.
Wait, what? A Google-made streaming service based on the video service that kicked off Chromecast to begin with didn’t have a way to cast?? What sense did that make? Sure, the Android app does fine, but in my daily workflow, I have Google Play Music’s web player up on my desktop and utilize my Chromebook’s much larger battery to handle music playback. It saves me from having to constantly pick my phone up and mess with music. Instead, I just bring up the player on my desktop when I need to change or adjust something.
Trying this same workflow with YouTube Music wasn’t working like that and the only way I could cast anything from that interface was to cast my entire tab and, if you’ve tried doing that for music, you understand why that’s simply not a reasonable workaround on a daily basis. Between my songs not being there and the inability to cast from the web player, I was out and I didn’t give YouTube Music a look for quite some time.
How Are Things Now?
Regardless of my early annoyances, it seems Google is slated to eventually replace Play Music and all its features with YouTube Music. We don’t have a firm timeline, but as new features continue showing up for YouTube Music and Play Music sits basically unchanged, it is becoming clearer every day that we’re not very far from the change. Google promises you uploaded music, playlists, etc. will all migrate over when the change does happen, so that is a comforting thought.
With all that in mind, I decided to give YouTube Music another go just the other day. The updates to both the app and the web player are noticeable, the music library is far better, and the user experience is very good. So good, in fact, that I think Google is actually making a wise move leveraging YouTube in any way it can. As cool as Stadia is going to be, a massive part of the draw will be the way it seamlessly integrates with YouTube. This is Google making moves and decisions based on one of its most popular properties and it makes total sense.
But what about that good old Chromecast feature? Surely they’ve added this by now, right? Surely the company who created the Chromecast and YouTube and has supported YouTube on Chromecast since day 1 has gotten around to adding Chromecast support to its new music service, right?
Wrong. Still, as of today, the YouTube Music app on the web has no ability to cast a music session. How is that even remotely possible? This is a YouTube property for heaven’s sake!! YouTube has been leveraging Chromecast since the very first day it was even a thing and you, Google, are telling me that “it’s on the roadmap” for YouTube Music?
Oh, and that post and reply was nearly a year ago! We’re fans of Google and their services around here – we really are – but this is one of the most ridiculous oversights I’ve ever seen. This would be the same as Apple releasing Apple Music and telling customers that it still hasn’t sorted out how you’ll be able to use that service on Apple TV or HomePod. If that happened, we’d mock Apple to no end and question if they even knew what they were doing. I feel that way with YouTube Music right now. I want to move over to the new service, start getting things the way I want them, and get used to using it on a daily basis.
But I need cast functionality from the browser and I don’t think that is too big of an ask, here. Sure, I can put the Android app on my Chromebook, but I’d rather use a web app basically any day over installing one. Plus, the YouTube Music web interface is beautiful and very nice to navigate, so why would I want to use a phone app instead? This is simply an oversight that needs to be corrected if Google wants people to take YouTube Music seriously. As two of Google’s largest properties, seeing YouTube Music and Chromecast not working perfectly together just seems wrong and I sincerely hope they fix it sooner rather than later.