Sony Music Unlimited, the all-you-can-hear music subscription service that represents Sony's answer to Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody and so on, added a crucial new feature to its Android app on Thursday: the ability to store music on an Android smartphone or tablet so that music fans can play it back without using a WiFi or wireless data connection.
We say "crucial" for a number of reasons - among them that cellphone providers are capping the amount of data you can stream each month (here's how AT&T's "unlimited" plans stack up, for example). Offline playback is also key for planes, subways, highways, and other places people like to listen to music but have a hard time streaming it. It also saves your battery, because the music only has to travel from your phone's or tablet's local memory to your earphones, instead of through your phone's power-hungry WiFi or cellular radio.
In essence, it lets you take full advantage of the economics of a streaming service without sacrificing the convenience of downloads.
Our initial focus for the Music Unlimited service was to use our advantages of having great ‘living room' products such as the PlayStation 3 and Bravia Internet Connected TVs to create a great in-home music experience. We accomplished that - evident by our one-million-plus active user base. However, we always knew that music mobility is a key part of our consumers' lives and that having music available when they are not connected - on planes, on road trips - is an important part of the experience. So, in response to our customers' wishes for offline playback, we wanted to make sure we came out with this feature as quickly as possible.
Sony Music Unlimited streams music to the home devices he mentions, as well as the Sony Music Unlimited app for Android and Android tablets, all from the same account, free for up to 30 days. The update that adds this offline playback feature rolls out today.