Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Google Play Music heads to the UK and Europe

Alex Masters/The Independent

Google Play Music is a free music service that allows you to upload a maximum of 20,000 songs to your Google account, with no cost or advertising whatsoever. You can then stream your music collection to any compatible Android device or web browser. It’s effectively a cloud-based locker for your music, making it possible to access your entire music collection from anywhere in the world, provided you have a reliable internet connection.

So if you want to upload your own music collection to the cloud for listening on the go, then Google Play is the best option available to date. I’ve been using it since it launched in the US last November, and aside from the odd glitch (hey, it’s beta), it has been incredibly reliable and offers a seamless native experience on Android. My only issue with the service so far has been the name.

Originally it was just called ‘Google Music’, but it was later changed to ‘Google Play Music’, and also referred to as ‘Music on Google Play’, which makes it very easy to confuse it with the Google Play store. Naturally, everyone still calls it Google Music, but that’s not its official name. If it’s not broken, why try to fix it?

Google Play will scan and match your music collection, similar to what Apple provides with its ‘iTunes Match’ product. The only difference is Google will provide the same functionality completely free of charge, whereas Apple will charge you £22 a year for the privilege. Any DRM-free songs found in your library that match content within the Google Play catalogue will instantly become available in your Google Play account, saving you the trouble of uploading all the audio files yourself. Not to mention saving you a ton of internet bandwidth in the process.

This is a brand new feature to Google Play. So new in fact, that US users will have to wait a little while longer before music matching becomes available, despite the fact that they had Google Play first. I spent weeks uploading my music collection, so count yourselves lucky!

Free storage for up to 20,000 songs is more than enough space for the majority of music lovers, making Google Play Music a very enticing service, especially if you’re an Android user. The Google Play Music app for Android is a highly polished, well thought out application, with versions optimised for both smartphone and tablet devices.

Unfortunately for users with extremely large libraries, there is currently no way to increase Google Play’s 20,000 song limit. Although, now that Google are expanding the service to locations outside of the US, we may see additional storage options roll out in the near future. Possibly integrated into Google’s cloud storage plans, whereby users can purchase additional cloud space at monthly rates for services like Google Drive, Picasa and GMail.

For the hardcore music collectors out there, a high capacity MP3 player may still be the best, and most affordable solution for storing music collections significantly larger than 20,000 songs. Cloud storage is great, but investing in large amounts of server space can be very costly. In a statement on the official Google blog the company says: “We’re now working with all of the major record labels globally, and all the major U.S. magazine publishers, as well as many independent labels, artists and publishers”.

Google have also announced a deal with Warner Music Group to bring their full music catalogue to the Google Play store over the coming months. Now that all the major labels are on board, Google finally have a mature music service to promote to their users, ready to challenge both Apple and Amazon’s dominance of the online music market.

Google Play Music will become available for users in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain on November 13th via, to correspond with the launch of Google’s flagshipNexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 10 tablet.

No comments:

Post a Comment