Announced earlier this month, I’ve been playing around with the Google Music Beta for the past week. (The Google Music beta is far more stable than Google Wave and I received my invite much sooner too.) Overall, the concept is something I’m interested in as I’ve been looking at different software that allows me to stream music and video from my computer to my phone or other computers.
The unfortunate problem with the concept, which is the same as the Amazon Cloud Player until you get down to specifics, is that connectivity is assumed. Are you always going to have a fast enough connection to get to your files? Moving these files to the cloud just means I don’t have to leave my computer on at home but it doesn’t fix the problem of my work having limited bandwidth or my phone not always connecting to 3G with a strong enough signal. Music Beta offers caching of files in an offline mode to combat some of that but it still doesn’t seem to be the ubiquitous Internet that’s really needed for this application of “the Cloud” to fly.
It is annoying to keep your music in different locations, so Google is solving one problem. Playlists don’t work so easily when you’re synchronizing across devices or network locations. Music beta will solve one problem by serving as the master location for your music.
Upon accepting the invitation and proceeding to the registration page using your Google account, you’ll have to accept the terms of service and privacy agreements. In exchange for signing up, you can get free music packs added to your account. They cover a variety of genres so you should be able to find something worth adding.
After this step, you’ll be at your Library. You can create playlists or stream single songs through your browser.
You can then download the Music Manager in order to copy your music up to the server. One neat feature is that it allows you to determine how much bandwidth is consumed during the process of uploading songs to the server. Right now, you can add up to 20,000 songs to the Google Music servers.
You can also find the Android app in the Android Market, an updated version of the Music app that will allow you to start streaming your music on the go.
The Google Music Help pages help answer a lot of the questions that naturally arise with this new US-only service.
Can Music beta play DRM files? Here are the supported file types.
What are the system requirements?
The usefulness of the Music Beta service, especially when compared to Amazon’s Cloud Player or other alternatives that pop up like Apple’s coming iCloud, will depend on the business model that is revealed later into the beta. Will there be costs or ads later on down the road? Can you increase the number of songs you can store for a greater cost? Will it survive lawsuits from the RIAA?