There's good news for fans of Google Play Music, the search giant's answer to iTunes and Spotify.
An updated version of Google Play Music Desktop Player, a third-party app, launched this weekend for Mac and Linux, bringing a much better listening experience to users who might otherwise be stuck with a less-than-perfect web streaming interface. The player also works on Windows, which was the only platform it worked on previously.
Without the app, you have to open a tab in your web browser to listen to Google Play Music, which can lead to problems.
If you're like us, you might have a more than a dozen other tabs open, which can make it irritating to mouse over to Google Play Music when you want to skip a song. The buttons on your keyboard corresponding to media -- like the play and forward keys -- won't work on the site without a Chrome extension like Streamkeys. And sometimes you want to listen to music without having a web browser open, like if you're working on a paper or playing a game.
Google Play Music Desktop Player solves all of those problems.
While it basically runs the website within a standalone program, it allows you to use your media keys to navigate tracks by default.
It also takes up a lot less memory than your Google Chrome browser is likely to, so your computer should run a bit smoother than it would if you listened to Google Play Music the traditional way.
The desktop player also lets you change its color theme, and it offers voice controls, custom hotkeys, a "mini-player" to take up less screen real estate and compatibility with the music social network Last.fm.
In fairness, it's not the first desktop player to offer these features. Radiant Player, for example, has allowed you to access similar functionality for Google Play Music on Mac since 2014. We found that the new Google Play Music Desktop Player was a bit more straightforward, so you might prefer it, though both are good.
If you haven't tried Google Play Music before, give it a whirl: In addition to letting you buy music or upload your own library, it also offers custom radio stations like "Ambient Music For Studying" and "Cleaning the House." Google Play Music replaced the beloved Songza app in December, but Songza's so-perfect-it's-scary mixes live on.