Google revealed their Google Music service yesterday at an event held in L.A., bringing a slew of new features to the service that was in Beta for the last three months.
Users will still use the Music Manager application to upload music to the "web locker" for streaming on Android devices and streaming through the web app for iOS devices. Users will still be limited to 20,000 songs, but that upload limit is free, and a lot of songs for the average user. For music hoarders like myself, it's a sliver of a much larger pie. Also, Google Music is now fully integrated with the Android Market music store. All music purchased in the Android Market automatically shows up in the Music app.
Thus far Google has nearly 8 million songs available from Sony, EMI, Universal and reportedly 1,000 different indie labels. Songs will cost $.99 or $1.29, and all are 320kbs. Standard Apple pricing, but still not as broad a selection. The big questions for iOS users is it worth switching from iTunes with its Match service or Spotify or any other music solution? No, no it's not.
Google Music is a fantastic addition for Android users who have been longing for a decent native Google solution, but for everyone else there are too many limitations as of now. Currently uploading songs to Google Music is incredible slow. One user claimed it took nearly an hour to finish uploading 22 of the 160 songs he queued. That's another complaint, users can only point the Music Manager to a specific folder for uploading music. Unless all your music is in the same folder it's going to be a tedious process of searching and uploading. Things would be much simpler if Music Manager simply scanned your entire hard drive for music then uploaded. Apple's iTunes Match solution allows users to forgo the entire uploading experience, but it also means users are limited to songs available on Apple's servers. I guess that's what iCloud is for.
The Web Interface for Google Music is fast, clean and functional. For iOS users it offers a nice hold over before the promised native iOS app is available. Users can make playlists, organize music on the home screen by artist, song, album or genre and this is all automatically determined by Google Music. All your usual playback controls like shuffle, loop, pause, skip, play, and volume controls are available at the bottom of the browser screen.
Google Music does attempt to implement and interesting sharing option via Google+. Users can share a song with a friend via Google+ and the user the song is shared with can listen to it one time through for free. However, the songs that can be shared are limited to songs purchased via the Android Market. A very Apple-esque move if you ask me.
Google Music is a competent offering by Google, but it lacks the ease of use of iTunes Match, and as a pure cloud music experience it isn't as quick as Amazon's offering. For Android users who want a free, native, and functional cloud based music solution this is it. For iOS users and others who are invested in other streaming and cloud based solutions, Google doesn't offer much incentive to switch.