Sigh. Another day, another YouTube Music shortcoming. I’m trying. I really am. I’m trying my best to move my music habits over to YouTube Music as the impending death of Google Play Music only continues to draw nearer. The library migration worked quite well, honestly, and after that process was completed, I really felt like things were on track for me to stop running into frustrations with the new music app from Google. With five (yes, five) years of development under their belt, I really thought the YouTube Music team would have the basics all buttoned up by now, but I keep running into new problems that make me more willing to give Spotify my money every day.
Bluetooth issues in my car display
First up, I’ve had a consistent issue with YouTube Music showing no info whatsoever on my car’s built-in stereo during music playback. The audio comes through and I can do all the normal controls you’d expect, but no song, album or artist info show up on the dash. For reference, I have a 2016 Honda HRV and no other music service I’ve ever used has struggled to do this quite-routine duty.
Searching the internet for answers I shouldn’t have to be looking for, I did come across quite a few others having the exact same issue. Did I say a few? I meant hundreds. Hundreds of users who have no Bluetooth info being displayed on their vehicle’s stereo due to some oddball choice that was made for YouTube Music to use Bluetooth AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) version 1.3 instead of 1.4. Most phones run version 1.4, so using 1.3 breaks compatibility. Why? Who knows, but it doesn’t work for many, many users at this point and the thread on Google’s support page is dated from December of 2019. If you’re hoping it will be solved before Google Play Music starts dying around the world next month, well, it’s not looking good.
Gapless playback finally added, but not for cast sessions
Late last year, YouTube Music fixed a missing feature that has been a part of other music services for years: gapless playback. This feature does exactly what it sounds like and delivers up the next track in a playlist without a pause in between. While not a huge deal in a mixed-bag style playlist, having gaps during the playback of a cohesive album makes things feel disjointed and a bit broken. Not all albums are like this, but many are created with the intention that one song flows seamlessly to the next. YouTube Music was lacking this and fixed it.
Well, they halfway fixed it. For a company owned by Google, it sure feels like they forget to include Chromecast functionality at an alarming rate. Yes, gapless playback was fixed for YouTube Music in the app, but that fix conveniently forgets to address playback to a cast speaker or Chromecast. Why? Again, I can only shrug my shoulders at this one. If you think about it, having a smooth, pause-free playback experience is arguably more important when casting your music to a more-public playback medium like a speaker or television. When fixing this issue in the app, why not address it with Chromecast too? Sigh.
Still no Chromecast abilities from the web player
Look, I’ve harped on this one for well over a year and I’m not going to do it again. I’ll link a couple of the articles here and here where I’ve discussed this prior, but it still baffles me that a Google-owned entity can’t bother to include a cast button in the web version of their service. Let’s all remember that YouTube was the first service to support Chromecast in the beginning and now, in 2020, the music version of that same service can’t seem to figure out how to add a very routine button to its web interface. In no version of reality is Google incapable of doing this: it is either neglect or very poor decision making at this point, and neither are a good look.
Weighing your options
I wanted to stick to wireless issues for this post, but it needs to be said that there are problems with odd suggestions, my still-missing recents playlist, and the way the service mixes my YouTube recents with my YouTube Music recents (infuriating). These issues are based on my usage and opinions, though, and aren’t exactly bugs or broken functionality. I bring them up only to highlight that after all these years, YouTube Music is still a fundamentally flawed music service that is replacing a very good, very sturdy service in Google Play Music. I’ll miss the latter greatly when it goes and, if things don’t start to turn around quick for YouTube Music, I might be giving Spotify a look as a more well-rounded option to replace the perfectly-fine music service I’ve relied on for nearly a decade.