Six months ago during Google I/O, Paul Joyce unveiled the beta of Google Music. Today at a special event in Los Angeles, the full Google Music service was launched. The service isn't just shrugging off the beta monicker however, but adding a ton of new features and forms of integration between Music, Plus and Market.
We knew the Music Beta had been pretty popular, but were still surprised to hear that since the service began, it has had close to a million participants uploading their content, playing on average 2.5 hours a day! :o
Other than the removal of the beta tag, what's changed?
One of the most significant changes, isn't. Originally billed as being free "for a limited time" we fully expected details of pricing today, but instead it seems they've had a bit of a change of heart. The great news is the caveat is gone entirely, anyone signing up for a Google Music account gets storage for up to 20,000 tracks at no charge. Awesome! :D
Other cloud services think you have to pay for music you already own.
The service is still currently only available to users within the US (boo!), but if you were to use some of the info in Paul's guide you might just be able to find a way around that :lol:
The music manager serves as the connector between your existing music library and the Google cloud. Available for Windows, mac and linux it monitors your collection and uploads new content automatically. Rather than just scraping the filesystem however, Music Manager is able to interact directly with apps such as iTunes and Windows Media Player to upload metadata and other information such as play counts. It's a great idea as it means the way you interact with media at your home machines once you make the shift to cloud doesn't necessarily need to change.
Depending on the size of your collection and connection speed, it could take a while for your content to upload. Thankfully Music Manager gives you the option to throttle your upload rates to ensure it doesn't eat all of your bandwidth.
One thing that appears to be absent is any kind of music matching, other services such as iTunes match will fingerprint the track being uploaded and can skip the entire upload if the service already has a master copy. We've seen suggestion elsewhere that this is present in the release product, but can't find anything official which confirms it.
It was about time Google got into the music store market and today was that day. As a new tab in Android market on both the app and website, they're now offering content from the likes of Sony Music, EMI, Universal and a broad range of independent labels.
In addition to the browsing by content, genre, popularity and artist, Google have staff curating the various sections and featuring content they hope will be of interest. Content bought in the new store is automatically delivered to your Music account and can be downloaded locally either via the desktop Music Manager application or through the browser interface as a 320kbps MP3.
Independent artists can register with the Artists Hub, a process similar to that which app developers have been following to publish their apps and can publish their work directly for a nominal registration fee ($25).
Any content purchased through market can be shared with friends through Plus and played once in its entirety for free, straight from the sharing post.
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The Android app has seen a bit of a visual overhaul since the last beta release. It's both restyled to match the new visuals in Ice Cream Sandwich and considerably snappier than previous betas.
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So, overall Google Music and the new store is looking great, it's just a pity that for now it remains restricted (at least officially) to US shores. Fingers crossed that's going to change in 2012.
Source: Google Music
File: Updated Music APK