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Playing with Google Music Beta

The hot new thing online recently has been cloud music players. For those not in the know, this essentially means being able to listen to music you own over the Internet.

Amazon was first out the gate with their cloud player, followed by Google, with Apple reportedly soon to come.

While in beta, Google Music is invitation only. You can apply for your own Google Music Beta invitation here.

I just got my invite to Google Music Beta today, so here are a few initial thoughts:

  • Unlike Amazon, Google is offering a nice selection of popular songs for free to get people into the service.
  • One thing that allows Google to do that is that you can't download songs once they're uploaded. However, it's playable on Android phones and tablets, and you can also select songs on your device to play back later when you're offline. It also automatically caches recently played songs.
  • It took a little futzing, but you can listen to music from Google Music Beta on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Much like Apple's iTunes, you can create automated mixes based on one song from your collection, as well as creating traditional playlists.
  • It's got a higher cap for free storage than Amazon, topping out at 20,000 songs. However, Amazon provides storage for any music bought through Amazon's MP3 store for free.
  • It's also got a built in rating system to let it know which songs you like and which you don't. Unlike iTunes' 5 star system, it's a bit simpler: thumbs up or thumbs down.
  • It's been a little buggier for me than Amazon's cloud player so far, with more frequent buffering issues.
  • However, while very similar to Amazon's cloud player, I found the Google interface a bit easier to use.

In the future, Google says it plans to sell music through the service as well, but they've yet to work out a deal with the record labels. The initial plans for the service also included Google being able to scan your hard drive for music you own and automatically letting you listen to those songs online, rather than having to upload them, but the record labels didn't allow that to happen yet. Reports indicate that Apple's service will allow this, but will also not be a free service, unlike Google and Amazon (well, with Amazon, for the first 2,000 song/5 gigabyte chunk of songs).

Watch Google's official introduction of the service:

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