As widely expected Google launched its Music beta today at the Google developer conference, I/O. Right now the service is US only and invitation only. Users can store 20,000 songs and the service is free (for the time being). By implication Google Music will become a paid-service at some point in the future.
No Music Store, Google Still Hopeful
There is no music store associated with the new Google Music beta. However Google made clear that it’s still trying to strike agreements with record labels and that it’s optimisitic that it will be able to do so in the future. Google made a point to say that Google Music is entirely legal, though it may not make everyone in the music industry happy.
For the time being users can upload their own music collections (up to 20,000 songs) and then stream those songs to their PCs and Android handsets. Users can also transfer music from iTunes. A nice secondary feature Google introduced for Music was a Pandora or Genius-like capability called “Instant Mix” that allows users to automatically create a playlist of similar or compatible songs.
Streaming Movies to PCs and Connected Devices
More of a surprise this morning was a streaming movie service for Android devices (smartphones, tablets) and PCs. It’s effectively an extension of the recently launched YouTube movie rental service. The same titles are available through both YouTube and the Android Market. Accordingly you can watch movies on your PC via the Android Market, YouTube or on Android tablets and smartphones.
One of the really nice features of both services, but especially movies is that users can “pin” movies and watch them when there’s no data connection (e.g., on a plane).
Google has launched two products that now directly compete with Netflix, Sonos, iTunes and Amazon’s services — not to mention Microsoft. The battle for the cloud and the living room is on.