YouTube Music is expanding upon its Offline Mixtape feature with a more thorough version it’s now calling “smart downloads.” When you enable smart downloads, the app will automatically download up to 500 songs that you’ll be able to listen to anywhere — whether or not you’ve got a data connection.
That selection includes the Offline Mixtape (a 100-song playlist based on your listening history) and “songs from your Liked Songs playlist and your other favorite playlists and albums.” You can set a limit for how much music smart downloads will pull down, and the process only happens at night and when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. YouTube gave me an example of what this might look like for the average user: “Offline Mixtape, Pop Hotlist, Summer 2019 playlist, Kacey Musgraves album.” So it’s enough to get you through a few hours of getting stuck without the ability to stream tunes.
I’m not sure who really needs an app to download so much music on its own. And I’m too much of a control freak to trust an algorithm to populate that list. Just because I was listening to something the other day doesn't mean that’s what I’ll want to hear on a flight or during my daily commute, so I’ll stick with manual.
But smart downloads might be useful if you tend to forget about saving music for offline listening until it’s too late. Other apps including Netflix are also moving into this lane; Netflix’s smart downloads can now save the next episode of whatever you’re watching so it’s ready to go right away, and it’ll automatically delete episodes you’ve already finished.
Unfortunately, YouTube is still unable to say exactly when it will migrate user libraries from Google Play Music over to YouTube Music. I asked a spokesperson for a status update on that this afternoon and have yet to hear back. Yesterday, I noticed that Google Play Music was updated to address a bug on iOS 13, so there must be enough people still using it to have made that fix a priority. We know that between the two services, Google has over 15 million paying subscribers. I can’t make the switch to YouTube Music until all my stuff shows up there, and I know there are other people in the same boat, so I’ll keep asking.