After a whole year of waiting, Google has finally announced its cloud music service, Music Beta by Google. Product Manager at Google, Paul Joyce, unveiled the service during this morning’s keynote at Google I/O in San Francisco. While everything we heard about the service last night turned out to be true, Google shed some light on how the whole thing will work.
The service will initially be invitation-only and available just for those in the U.S. When talking about pricing, Google promised that the service will be free, at least for the beta period.
If you manage to get an invitation, Music Beta by Google will allow you to store 20,000 of your songs on Google’s servers. You’ll be able to do this by using a small piece of software that’ll upload the music files stored on your hard drive. This tool will also let you upload all the playlists that you have on iTunes or Windows Media Player.
The service will then sync — via the cloud — your songs and playlists across all Android phones and tablets you own. Additionally, users will be able to listen to their music files using the very slick-looking Music web app. The web app will also allow you to easily create a playlist based on one song. Google calls this feature InstantMix, and believes it’s a “truly ingenious” feature — an obvious poke at Apple’s iTunes Genius feature.
Once you’re on your Android device, Music will constantly sync your music with the cloud. Making any changes you make appear almost immediately on the Music web app — and vice versa. The Android app will keep a cache of the songs you listen to most, for those times when you don’t have an Internet connection. If you want to download a specific song or album, you’ll able to “pin” them and the app will save them to your Android device.
While Music Beta by Google shows promise, there are currently two big features missing from it. One of them is being able to buy songs and the other one is recognizing which songs you already own so you don’t have to upload them.
Both of these features require Google to strike a deal with record labels. But like we heard yesterday, record companies are not interested in what Google is offering them. Instead, they’re trying to impose terms that are “unreasonable and unsustainable.” That usually means that they want to milk consumers as much as possible with high prices, and DRM-protection. For a company like Google — best-known for its free products — this is unacceptable.
Even though the service has some shortcomings, we’re glad Google has decided to go ahead and release it once and for all. Hopefully, record companies will realize this is the way forward and sign a deal with Google in the near future.