Google Play Music can store music at bitrates that most outside of the audiophile crowd will find at least acceptable, and now a new update brings a few new quality choices when streaming over a cellular connection or Wi-Fi. A new option called "Always High" is available, which will stream music in high quality no matter what the network conditions are like. This option is available on cellular and Wi-Fi connections, where previously, using Wi-Fi meant that users had no choice of streaming quality, and could only stream in the highest quality no matter how good or bad the Wi-Fi network at hand was. Wi-Fi users can also choose to stream music in lower qualities, as of this update. Finally, all of the quality options are also available for downloads.
While these new options being available mean that audio snobs on cellular networks can now choose to stream the highest possible quality files no matter how their network conditions are, this does not increase the overall quality that the Play Music app can store and play music in; it's still capped at 320 kilobytes per second, and non-MP3 files that are imported, regardless of bitrate, will be re-encoded as 256 kilobyte per second MP3 files. Content played locally using Google Play Music will, as before, remain unaffected by in-app content quality settings.
This update comes on the heels of another update to the app that allowed users to quickly jump back to songs that they had played recently. While this update had been makings its way out to some users on a testing basis, the official Play Music app update to version number 7.5 brings the quality choice changes to all users. This means that if you can run Google Play Music, you can use these new quality options, regardless of your device or Android version. The update is currently live in the Play Store for all users, so if you don't receive an update to this new version and don't see the latest update available in the Play Store, as with any other app update, try rebooting your device, uninstalling and reinstalling the app, or both.