Zombies, Run! — How to use Google Music (Final Edit)

Introduction

This page details how you can use Google Music to supplement your Zombies, Run! running experience, without having to download your music collection to your device. This page has been created using the Android version of the ZR app and this information here does not work with the iOS version. There may be an equivalent tool or app for iOS, but I have no intention of checking or writing up an article on such an app.

Disclaimer

I am NOT affiliated or connected to Bubblesoft (the gmusicfs developer), or Six to Start (the Zombie’s, Run! developers), this article is simply written by a fan for the fans. If you have any problems with the setup detailed below, drop me a comment so that others can see as well. If it is an app issue, then I’ll direct you to the relevant people. If it’s a problem I have experienced before (and I’ve used this setup for a long while), then I’ll assist if I can. Should many people be getting the same problem, I’ll add it to the article.

NOTICE

As of 18th July 2014, this document will no longer be updated. For more details and background, see this post.

Requirements

  1. A Rooted Android Device (as gmusicfs requires root access)
  2. Zombies, Run! 2 or Zombies, Run! 3 Installed (latest version is ZR3)
  3. A Google Account (to use Google Music)
  4. Music purchased and/or uploaded to Play Music
  5. One or more playlists setup on Play Music
  6. gmusicfs – at time of writing, the version is 1.0.13. The app is not available on Google Play any longer, so this link takes you to the XDA forum thread for gmusicfs. The unlocker is no longer required, and you will need to “sideload” the app, so you also need to tick the “Unknown Sources” option in your Android settings page

Instructions

NOTE: As of 16th April 2014, Zombies, Run! 3 is released. The screenshots (bar one) in this article were taken using Android Jelly Bean, Zombies, Run! 2 (NOT 3) and gmusicfs 1.0.12. As the expression goes – your mileage may vary.

If using gmusicfs with Zombies, Run! 3 please ensure you read the Caveats at the bottom of this article.

Here is an example of my “before” installation. You can see that the playlists available inside the ZR app and in Apollo are only a few: “Running” (which is my music collection specifically for runs, and they are local MP3s stored on my SD card), and “Favourites” (which are tracks automatically queued onto this playlist when I mark them as favorites) Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-36-36Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-36-57

Install the gmusicfs  application. You’ll get the gmusicfs icon. Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-40-14

Now, start the application. You will be prompted for superuser permissions (allow gmusicfs to use superuser) — your prompt maybe different depending on which superuser interface you are using (I’m using SuperSU, but it’s recommended you use the standard Superuser. Using non-standard Superuser often causes timing problems due to one superuser app having to approve the other.)

Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-42-09

You’ll be given a brief welcome screen. Click on OK, and you’ll see the main gmusicfs menu. Ignore the Beta message – I was testing a Beta version for the developer.Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-40-42 Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-40-54

Before you click anything on the main window, I strongly recommend you change a few settings. Click on the Settings tab and scroll down. Change “Append Mode” to “Album Name + Track Title”, and tick “Start on Boot”. Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-41-16 Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-41-30

Changing these settings means that gmusicfs will start up as soon as your homescreen starts, and the Append option means that when your music is listed or played, it will have “[gfs]” tagged after it. Here’s an example from one of my runs: Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-36-12

Now that you’ve set the settings, you can commence the sync. First, signin using your Google Account by clicking on the “Account” button. Depending on your configuration of your device, Google might ask you to authorise the app to use your account. If so, say yes.Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-42-38

gmusicfs will now connect, download your album collection’s metadata, then build the albums and set Android’s media engine to scan your collection. This will take a long time if you have a lot of music. For me, it took over 12 hours to sync 20,000+ tracks. It is at this stage where you will find out whether or not gmusicfs will work for you. The app doesn’t work with all ROMs and all kernels. Some kernels do not like gmusicfs and will generate an error like this (screenshot taken using Android KitKat and Unorom-based kernel):

Screenshot_2014-04-09-13-13-30

Otherwise, you’ll get output like this:Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-42-50Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-43-02Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-49-47 Screenshot_2013-09-07-12-57-29

Once the albums have been built, gmusicfs will download your playlists, mount the directory and start scanning (you’ll see the icon in the taskbar). Any tracks that fail or are unable to be scanned will be indicated after the scan completed (V1.0.13+ only)Screenshot_2013-09-07-14-42-48Screenshot_2013-09-07-14-43-07Screenshot_2013-09-07-16-32-48 Screenshot_2013-09-07-18-29-13

Once the synchronisation has finished, you can go into the Zombies, Run! app. When you access the available playlists, you’ll see both your local playlists, AND your Google Music Playlists. You can select any of your Google Music playlists now, and start the run.

IMPORTANT: For gmusicfs to work correctly, you must REMOUNT the library after starting the app. Usually the app does this by itself, but I usually prefer to do it manually. If you don’t do it manually, you may end up with 2-3 ZR audio clips playing back to back until gmusicfs realises and auto-remounts. The reason is ZR THINKS it is playing a track, but gmusicfs does not give it the data properly, leading ZR to think it’s a zero second length track, so it moves onto the next audio clip. To remount manually, once the ZR app starts the first audio, hold the HOME key and switch to gmusicfs. Click on “Remount”, and wait for the remount to complete. Then, press the HOME key again, and switch back to ZR, and start running. If all goes well, the run should start and you should start hearing your music being streamed from your Google Music collection. Android KitKat seems to do this fine by itself without manual intervention.

Screenshot_2013-09-07-18-30-45 Screenshot_2013-09-07-18-32-22

Caveats

  • Remember you are STREAMING audio, so if you have network connectivity problems during your run, ZR may (not necessarily WILL) see it as a playlist error, and stop playing music for the rest of the run.
  • If gmusicfs runs into an error during streaming, it may pop-up a toaster message. If you’re running, you won’t see this. Installing a screen reader can help.
  • gmusicfs is still buggy. Sometimes synchronisation will fail or only be partially successful. On version 1.0.13, gmusicfs will show the number of files it cannot scan. If this is not zero, then some of your playlists will fail to sync fully as Android doesn’t see the music files related to those playlists.
  • gmusicfs makes ZR laggy. To such a level that Android may think the app has hung and ask if you want to Force Close it. On Zombies, Run! 3, this affects the startup of the app. On Zombies, Run! 2, it tends to affect the playlist listing more.
  • On some versions of Android and custom ROMs (MIUI, CyanogenMod, Android Revolution, etc.) gmusicfs seems to cause instability in Android in general, sometimes causing random reboots. This is due the app not playing nicely with the kernel. If this happens for you, you will need to change your kernel and/or ROM.
  • gmusicfs MUST be cleaned up before uninstalling, or manually cleaned up afterwards. To clean up, you must do the following:
    1. In gmusicfs, unmount the directory
    2. Click “Cleanup”. This will remove the gmusicfs directory, the gmusicfs.meta directory (if it exists), and remove all references of your gmusicfs collection from the Android Media Storage
    3. For safety, also manually wipe the data of the Media Storage app. Do NOT do this step if you have non-gmusicfs playlists you want to keep (in my example, these would be the “Running” and “Favourites” playlists).
    4. If you are using version 1.0.13, you’ll be prompted to soft-reboot to clean up the stale entries. DON’T. Reboot manually.
    5. If you opted for the soft reboot, you’ll may get several FC errors on the Android Media Scanner. Click through a couple and if it keeps coming up, reboot again.
    6. Uninstall gmusicfs (and the unlocker if you have it installed)
    7. If you get random reboots after cleaning up and removing the app and unlocker, wipe the data from Media Storage, reboot, and then rebuild any playlists manually.
    8. If you have any media players, they may misbehave. Two examples are Apollo and Google Play Music. Wiping the data on the media player usually fixes this problem.
  • Users who have a large music collection such as myself, will have to wait a LONG time for synchronisation (from start to finish of an initial sync can take up to 12 hours.)
  • ZR will sometimes crash when trying to list playlists when gmusicfs is active.
  • Using gmusicfs can sometimes cause instability in other apps which use the Android Media Storage (Rocket Player, Apollo, etc.)
  • If using ZR3, be aware that the app is now more of a memory hog than before, and can force gmusicfs to unmount without you knowing. Probably not so much of an issue with higher-spec devices, but is an issue for older generation devices. Before using ZR3 and gmusicfs together, try to ensure you have everything else closed down. Use a task killer if you need to.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for this! I’ll be trying it out later today. I had pretty much given up on Zombies Run because I was too lazy to manually update my playlist, and all I wanted was for it to work with Google Music.

    About the manual cleanup part – does it take up a bunch of space on the SD card?

    Reply

    1. Not really – my collection of 20000+ tracks only took a few hundred MB of space on my SD Card. Considering the actual size of MP3s are in the GBs, this is a small space cost in comparison.

      Reply

  2. […] Zombies, Run! — How to use Google Music (Last Edit: 25th April 2014) […]

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  3. […] Zombies, Run! — How to use Google Music (Final Edit) […]

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